Series: Where in Krav Maga Do We Cover Courage During Anxiety Attacks?

Lesson One: Fight Like Hell

Life is scary. Global warming. Automation. Ground-fighting. Government shutdown. Turning thirty-three and not being married and a best-selling author. All things that keep me up at night.

Life with social anxiety just makes it worse. Because not only do I have to agonize over the mistakes of the world, but I have to agonize over my mistakes as well. And nothing can make me feel worse than my brain endlessly chewing over my words and finding some way to make me feel like I am the greatest social catastrophe since Typhoid Mary.

Today, I really felt like a screw-up. My amazing and caring teacher seemed exasperated with me, even though I rationally knew it was his normal tone of voice. I projected my own mental insecurities onto his words. I felt overwhelmed by the lesson and I felt completely demoralized by closing my eyes and freezing up with fear every time my opponent took me to the ground. My brain was loudly reminding me that to quote Rebecca Bunch, my fellow neurotic Jewish lawyer, I was a “horrible, stupid, dumb and ugly, fat and stupid, simple self-hating bitch!” (Thank you, Rachel Bloom, for that awesome song)

But I didn’t run away. I melted down a bit, had a very difficult conversation with my blessedly patient teacher. I then had the most grueling private coaching session of the last six months. I wanted to faint midway but I stayed the course.

Yes, I could still feel my brain insulting me the entire time. Yes, I could feel myself regret every word and feel like a misfit. I felt the stabs of fear in everything I did. My anxiety crashed against me, choking me and dragging me under and choking the life out of me.

Freak. Weirdo. Stupid. Worthless. Clumsy.

Everyone hates you. Everyone is laughing at you.

I can’t believe you said that, how could anyone be so idiotic?

I felt every single blow, but my training also kicked in, forcing me to keep fighting. It was the first lesson of Krav Maga. When faced with an opponent that felt bigger and stronger, fight like your life depends on it, because it does.

I’m sad to admit, this picture sums up my mental state.

Opponents want to assert control. Whether it’s a guy at a bar who grabs me, or my brain driving me into a panic attack, both work to make me feel helpless.

If I’m attacked externally, my training tells me to smash and strike and get myself home safely.

So it is only logical that when I’m attacked internally, I need to fight the demons inside me by staying right where I am and refusing to let them overwhelm me into giving up.

Yes, it’s terrifying and painful, and I long to give in. I’m exhausted by this constant battle. I just know that everything depends on me refusing to give up, and standing my ground and fighting for what matters to me.

Anxiety may be a fight only I can see, and cause wounds only I can feel, but I know that every time I walk off the mat sweaty and exhausted after completing a lesson that forced me to face my fears, I’m the victor.

I know I’ll have to battle again and again, but I will not surrender control over my life.

I will fight like my quality of life depends on it, because it does.

And I believe, someday I will win.

Writer, lawyer, Kravist, friend

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