Curing Anxiety

In my early thirties I had panic attacks.  Suddenly and inexplicably my heart would race, my throat grow tight and my mind fill with catastrophic thoughts.  My doctor prescribed Xanax.

“If you take this, you won’t feel anxiety — and even if you do, you won’t care.”
“But I don’t want drugs.  I want a cure.”
“Well, if you really want a cure, I’d need to know precisely what we’re dealing with.  You’d need to tell me the exact order in which the symptoms occur when you have an attack.  Does your breath get short before or after your heart starts racing?  And so on.  Bring me that information, and we’ll cure you.”

So I waited eagerly for the next attack — and it didn’t come.  Finally, one day in the grocery store, I felt the beginnings of panic, and instantly I focused:  Is it my heart or my breath?  My gut or my thoughts?  But then nothing happened.

When I went back to the doctor:

“I haven’t had an attack since my last visit.”
“Well, pay attention if you do.  If we get that information, you’ll be cured.”