Let’s talk about panic disorders and anxiety. I, in no way claim to be an expert on the subject, so don’t take my word as gospel– not that I expect any of you would. But I have had my fair share of panic and anxiety attacks in the past. And they are the worst. Anyone who has ever had a panic attack will probably say the same.
The difficult part about it, is that often there is little logic behind a panic attack. Sometimes the triggers are seemingly tiny incidents and other times they are not so tiny. Regardless the panic, anxiety and difficulty of the situation are very real.
Recently, I witnessed a couple of people having panic attacks and it’s a whole other world being on the flip side of it. Because I know what it feels like to not be able to breathe, feel like the world is ending, screaming, crying, the inability to form sentences and describe how you’re really feeling, coupled with the inexplicable hardship of it all, I knew what not to do.
So, I knew not to yell at the person having the attack. I knew not to tell them to calm down. I knew not to hang up on them or slam a door on them. I knew not to shame them or guilt them. I knew not to laugh at them or call them names.
But the issue is, I didn’t know what TO DO. I know in the past, when I have had my anxiety attacks that very little made me feel better. I could tell you what made me feel worse, but I also couldn’t tell you what made me feel better. I feel as though there is very little comfort you can give someone experiencing a panic or anxiety attack, other than listening. And after listening to someone you care about in such pain, your instinct is to say everything will be alright, but the fact of the matter is, when you are under attack by your nerves and anxiety, it doesn’t feel like everything will be ok. And telling someone everything will be alright is belittling, patronizing and silly because you don’t know if everything will be alright. We have no way of knowing what to expect tomorrow.
My panic attacks were very embarrassing for me, which only made the panic worse. I knew to let it go as soon at the attack passed and let the person get on with their day.
I’ve learned to listen and let it pass, but I really do wish there was more I could do. I wish I could hug the person and take all the panic away.
Peace and Pistachios,