Utah Family Therapy

Panic Attack, Anxiety 14 Hours, 2 Rattlesnakes, Bruised and Cut – Focus On Something Else

My first Panic Attack. A couple of years ago, my cousins were visiting from out of town for the Summer. They asked if I would like to go hiking with them, and of course, I enthusiastically said yes! I love hiking, being in the mountains, and being with family. Before the hike, my cousins explained that it would be a short hike that would maybe take a couple of hours. Continue reading to see how I had to focus on other things to survive.

Once I got to the mountain to meet them, I asked:

“Where’s the trail to hike up?” One of my cousins laughed and said,

“We don’t hike on trails; we make our own trails!”

I was immediately filled with regret and fear. (Don’t get me wrong, I love an adventure, but I like safe experiences ;))


We set off on our adventure early in the morning climbing up the face of the mountain without trails. We zig-zagged our way up because it was so steep. At one point, there was a mile of bush that was knee-deep that we had to go through to get to the top.

Tearing Into My Skin

I was not prepared for this weed-whacking adventure at all! I had worn Capri leggings and my old running shoes. As we were climbing making our way through the bushes, my legs got utterly shredded. Every step I took I felt them tearing into my skin – it was not the pleasant hiking experience that I was hoping for.

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Once we made it to the top of the mountain, I felt a tiny bit of relief and accomplishment. I thought “YAY! This experience is finally almost over!!” The only problem was, to go down, we would either have to go through this slicing brush again or find a new way to get down. I was not excited about going through the bushes, and once again, I was filled with dread.

Jumping to Conclusions and Worst Case Scenario – Panic Attack!

Like many, I struggle with anxiety. I often jump to conclusions, and the conclusions that I jump to are usually the worst-case scenario situations!

My head started spiraling at the top of the mountain. I thought,

“My cousins have no idea what we are doing or where we are going! They are going to lead me off a cliff!”

These thoughts eventually lead to,

“I’m going to die on this Mountain, and I’ll never see my child again!”

Which lead to a massive panic attack at the top of the mountain.

It took me a long time to get out of that panic state, but with the help from my cousins, we began the descent. We went down a different way than we went up, and it was terrifying to me. It was steep, rocky, and it seemed like it would take years to get to the bottom of that mountain!

On our way down, I kept looking way into the distance at how much further we still had to go. I would get overwhelmed with how far away the bottom of the mountain was. Again, the panic would set in, and we would have to stop. I told my cousins quite a few times,

“Just leave me here, and eventually I’ll make it down!”

They didn’t buy it.

Focus on Something Else – Look-sees

One of my cousins decided that it would be best if I focused on what she called a “look-sees.” These look-sees would be a tree, a rock, or another object that was at a closer distance than I knew I could get down to. Once we made it to one look-see, we could make it to another look-see and so forth. These little look-sees made it possible for me to get down the mountain.



Changing my focus helped me to make it down the mountain, just like managing anxiety.

Fourteen hours later, two rattle-snake encounters, bruised and cut legs, and with the help from incredibly patient cousins, we finally made it to a trail at the bottom of the mountain! I remember feeling so grateful; I wanted to kiss the ground!

We had finally made it to a point where I could have hope that we would make it home. When thinking back on this adventure, I think of all the things I learned along the journey. This experience taught me about gratitude, connection, and endurance.

I was grateful for every little look-see, to change the focus, we found because I knew it would get me closer to the bottom, back home, and with my son. Sometimes I think we get so wrapped up worrying about the future we forget to be grateful for the little things that help us get to where we want to be.

Life is a journey.

My therapist and some close friends have been excellent at empowering me to find my look-see moments in life that have gotten me to where I am now.

Lastly, on the way down the Mountain, I was irrational, angry, and resentful with my cousins. I said awful things to them while we were climbing down. I blamed them for taking me on this miserable adventure. Despite the terrible things I said to them, they continued to help me.

Often, when hard times arise, we build walls to protect us by either blaming, picking arguments, or shutting down. These walls are built to protect us, but in the long run, do they protect us or do they do more harm?

If my cousins didn’t see past my walls, would I have made it down the mountain? Or would they have just left me?

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