The worst feeling in the world is trying to hold back a panic attack in public. It is stigma’s fault.
Yes, that assumption you made ages ago still haunts my mind…
“you’re being silly ”
” calm down”
“why are you crying, stop crying”
“she’s an attention seeker”
“she started having a panic attack she’s so weird”
“no one speaks to her because of her anxiety”
All of these would have been said to someone with anxiety, whether its about them or another person. It hurts. We move on, days, months, years go on yet the memory of how you view us is still there and haunts our mind.
- While we are having a panic attack remind us that we are ok, that we look fine/normal. The one way I calm down during a panic attack is by asking the person around me if i look ok. That way I can ensure its a panic attack. The funny thing is that people assume that because you’ve been through it once its easy to identify again when it comes. But that feeling that comes is too scary to defeat, even if I’ve been through it everyday, it is a horrible feeling that terrifies me every time it comes.
- Keep distracting the person. When I feel my anxiety increasing I feel the need to talk to someone about anything, or I’ll beg someone to go out with me even if its just for a walk. That 30 minutes of distraction with a person can change my mood and make me forget about what was making me anxious. So next time someone you know is/may be suffering with anxiety, just take a few minutes out of tour time to help them overcome some distorted thoughts.
- BE YOURSELF. Yes you reading this, thank you so much. After writing my first blogpost about anxiety in Jeddah I was afraid to come back to London to see some of the closest people to me. You might be thinking why? Well because I didn’t know how they would react to my confession which was something very big for me, I didn’t know if they would treat me differently, I was afraid they’d distance themselves, or always bring it up. Instead I thank each of my family members/friends reading this for being yourself and always being there for me despite my tired, lazy, moody self.
- Make plans with them. Doing this will help the person look forward to what the future holds instead of fear the future because they don’t know what to do.
- Be organised. The most stressful things for me is last minute plans or a last minute change of plans. Try as much as you can to stay to schedule or remind the person that if anything does change its OK. It might be so normal to you to change the plan for example not going to a Arab restaurant but going to a Chinese one, but that can spark a couple of haunting thoughts in the persons brain. Just remind them its normal to change plans and doesn’t mean that something bad will happen if unexpected plans happen.
- DON’T tell me to calm down during a panic attack, its the worst thing ever, I wish I could calm down but my brain isn’t letting me.
- DON’T force me to stop having a panic attack because people are looking at me. Let them look at me!
- DON’T tell me I’m exaggerating for overthinking, just say it in a nicer way, just remind me not to believe all my thoughts. Thats it.
- DON’T get frustrated. Remember, alongside anxiety being thought related, they’re also chemical related. The thing is we really do know that fears shouldn’t bother us, we really do know that its our thoughts, but as hard as we try we can’t stop and expecting us to use logic to control their anxiety is extremely difficult, if not impossible.
- DON’T bring up our anxiety, DON’T tease us/joke about it. We may seem fine but that is a sensitive spot to touch on.
- DON’T tell us it’s not a big deal. Telling us that what we are feeling anxious about isn’t a big deal can actually make our anxiety worse. Instead help us look at the positive side and not make us feel guilty for our emotions.
- DON’T assume I have a reason for why I’m crying. Sometimes I can have haunting thoughts one day and avoid a panic attack yet a few days later this feelings come out as tears randomly. Most of the time I don’t have a reason for crying but it just makes me feel so much better.
- DON’T make us feel self-conscious.
- When we cry don’t make a big deal out of it – as well as wanting to be around people, sometimes we need our alone time.