Do you ever watch a film and there’s an unexpected hot person and just
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:
- Stay with us and keep calm.
The last thing we need when we’re panicking, is to have someone else panicking with us.
- Offer medicine if we usually take it during an attack.
You might have to ask whether or not we take medicine- heck, some might not; but please, ask. It really helps.
- Move us to a quiet place.
We need time to think, to breathe. Being surrounded by people isn’t going to help.
- Don’t make assumptions about what we need. Ask.
We’ll tell you what we need. Sometimes; you may have to ask- but never assume.
- Speak to us in short, simple sentences.
- Be predictable. Avoid surprises.
- Help slow our breathing by breathing us or by counting slowly to 10.
As odd as it sounds, it works.WHAT YOU SHOULDN’T DO:
1. Say, “You have nothing to be panicked about.”
We know. We know. We know. And because we know we have nothing to be panicked about, we panic even more. When I realize that my anxiety is unfounded, I panic even more because then I feel like I’m not in touch with reality. It’s unsettling. Scary.
Most of the time, a panic attack is irrational. Sometimes they stem from circumstances — a certain couch triggers a bad memory or being on an airplane makes you claustrophobic or a break up causes you to flip your lid — but mostly, the reasons I’m panicking are complex, hard to articulate or simply, unknown. I could tell myself all day that I have no reason to be having a panic attack and I would still be panicking. Sometimes, because I’m a perfectionist, I become even more overwhelmed when I think my behaviour is “unacceptable” (as I often believe it is when I’m panicking). I know it’s all in my mind, but my mind can be a pretty dark and scary place when it gets going.
Alternate suggestion: Say, “I understand you’re upset. It is okay. You have a right to be upset and I am here to help.”
2. Say, “Calm down.”
This reminds me of a MadTV sketch where Bob Newhart plays a therapist who tells his patients to simply “Stop it!” whenever they express anxiety or fear. As a sketch, it’s funny. In real life, it’s one of the worst things you can do to someone having a panic attack. When someone tells me to “stop panicking” or to “calm down,” I just think, “Oh, okay. I haven’t tried that one. Hold on, let me get out a pen and paper and jot that down, you jerk.”
Instead of taking action so that they do relax, simply telling a panicking person to “calm down” or “stop it” does nothing. No-thing.
Alternate suggestion: The best thing to do is to listen and support. In order to calm them down without the generalities, counting helps.
3. Say, “I’m just going to leave you alone for a minute.”
Being left alone while panicking makes my heart race even harder. The last thing I want is to be left by myself with my troubled brain. Many of my panic attacks spark from over-thinking and it’s helpful to have another person with me, not only for medical reasons (in case I pass out or need water) but also it’s helpful to have another person around to force me to think about something other than the noise in my head.
Alternate suggestion: It sometimes helps me if the person I’m with distracts me by telling me a story or sings to me. I need to get out of my own head and think about something other than my own panic.
4. Say, “You’re overreacting.”
Here’s the thing: I’m not. Panic attacks might be in my head, but I’m in actual physical pain. If you’d cut open your leg, no one would be telling you you’re overreacting. It’s a common trope in mental health to diminish the feelings or experience of someone suffering from anxiety or panic because there’s no visible physical ailment and because there’s no discernible reason for the person to be having such a strong fear reaction.
The worst thing you can tell someone who is panicking is that they are overreacting.
Alternate suggestion: Treat a panic attack like any other medical emergency. Listen to what the person is telling you. Get them water if they need it. It helps me if someone rubs my back a little. If you’re in over your head, don’t hesitate to call 911 (or whatever the emergency services number is where you are). But please, take the person seriously. Mental health deserves the same respect as physical health.
This post is important!
One of my girls at camp had a pain-induced panic attack during lunchtime and if it weren’t for posts like this that I see on Tumblr, I might have done something wrong or not known what to do. But because I’d read posts like these, I was able to keep her calm enough that the camp nurse could get her medication to help her and take over when I had to leave to take care of the rest of my cabin.
These are the things they should have told you and made you believe while growing up…
You can take down armies with your gaze
Even though that may make the knees of boys buckle
Don’t you dare dim that fucking fire in your eyes.
It is passion.
It is life.
It is survival.
Intelligence is going to be your sharpest weapon—
Too often have we been told that our beauty
Will bear us with fruitful gifts and perfect men;
You can’t take beauty to the grave.
And they can scar your face and your body
And throw words at you that burn like the acid
That creeped up your esophagus when you swore
That beauty was worth shaking legs
And hollow bones.
Let the sun kiss your skin—
Even if it’s in places
That mother always kept buttoned up
Because father always said
You were meant to be a lady.
Being a lady doesn’t mean
Lace and lipstick—
Don’t be fooled by magazine covers
Convincing you that your worth lies in the seems
Of Chanel bags and Jimmy Choo’s.
My goodness, Laugh.
Laugh until your ribs creek and you can feel your lungs
Broken hearts are only healed by
Puppies and candlelit nights
With books you’ve put off reading
In order to spend time
With boys and girls
Who tangle themselves in sheets and bodies
In hopes of ridding themselves
Of self loathing.
And it’s okay if sometimes
You sleep next to hearts
You shouldn’t dare touch
As long as you are prepared for consequences.
Because not everyone you love
Is obligated to love you—
That love doesn’t mean
Sheets that reek
Of cigars and car grease
Or lips that are raw
From taking in the other persons soul
Even if it was for but a few moments
And despite all of the fairytales—
Love isn’t the only thing
That makes life worth living.
I just know I saw a few screen caps a bit back.