Updated: Sep 23, 2020
Anxiety disorders can come in all shapes and sizes. Anxiety can show its ugly face at the wrong times. Examples: Friends BB&Q, movie theater, family/friends gathering, need I say more? People like me who have panic attacks want to feel that we’re being heard because our minds are racing 100 mph when it arrives. You know the expressions “When it rains it pours” well that’s how we feel when we’re flooded with emotions during a panic attack. We crave to feel supportive, not humiliated. It’s bad enough when a person has these episodes outside their home. The feeling of embarrassment and being a ’Debbie downer ’ comes to play. Believe me.
I have learned through the few months of experiencing this myself is that people do mean well when suggesting advice. Yet not many individuals know what to do when they see a friend, a loved one, family member, experience this disorder. It’s hard to advise someone when you don’t know much about it. I once spoke to a psychotherapist in the ER (yes, the ER—I have spent much time in there because my symptoms weren’t well managed). I’ll save that for another blog entry but she mentioned that “anxiety is normal and it’s a healthy emotion. It keeps us safe and motivates us.” “It becomes a problem when it’s over the top and affects your day-to-day life.” Furthermore, here’s how to talk and be supportive.
1. What can I do to help you?
2. Let’s go to a quieter place or go for a walk.
3. Stay with the person and keep calm.
4. Offer medicine if the person usually takes it during an attack.
5. Speak to the person in short, simple sentences.
6. Help slow the person’s breathing by breathing with him or her slowly to the count of 10.