Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Maybe It Is Just Me?...

I hated Spanish class in high school. I love the language. I love the idea of learning a new culture. I however, hated this particular class with everything in my soul. It was right after lunch and the teacher knew that I sucked at foreign languages (dyslexia) and so he would call on me to say things in Spanish...which was always wrong. The kids would laugh, the teacher would laugh....I would feel totally embarrassed. What's worse, was this was the one class I had panic attacks in. I would go sit down at my desk, start to shake, and end up bolting from the class in sheer panic mode. I got sneers and snide remarks from other students They had no idea what was wrong with me, but clearly there was something off. It was mortifying and yet I kept going back day after day after day....I rather not recall those painful days of high school and yet I often wonder what others think when they see someone freak out in that manner.

I was reading this weird little blurb last night about what to say to people that are having a panic attack and it kinda made me laugh a bit. Not that it wasn't a nice article. It meant well, but some of it was rather silly. To me anyway. It said things like "let them know you are there for them". That is a nice sentiment, but I don't need to know you are there for me in that moment. I know you care but you being "there for me" doesn't resolve my anxiety in any way while I am in the middle of the attack. It does make me feel better afterwards though.

There were several more sayings like this but the worst one for me, was "ask them what they need". Listen, during a full on raging panic attack it is all I can do to concentrate on my own breathing. I don't want to hyperventilate and pass out. So, the last thing I want or even can do at that moment is to hold a conversation and tell you what I need. What I need is to breathe.

Maybe it is just me, I prefer to have my panic attacks in seclusion. If I have one in public (God forbid) then I go somewhere private so I can get control of it. I can not talk during one. I can not handle being touched during one. I can not deal with other outside stimuli at all. And the thought of anyone watching me break down like that, even family or loved ones, is mortifying to me. I am not a science experiment and I don't want to be stared at like one.

Unfortunately, having an anxiety disorder means that I do have panic attacks and I have had to learn to accept that I may get triggered and have one at any point in time. Most of the time, I can talk myself down out of one. But there are the big ones that hit me out of nowhere and I am left having to pick up the pieces when it is done. So, I am wondering if I am the only one.....How do you respond to panic attacks and do you find being told people are there for you or asking what you need in the middle of one helpful? And if you see someone having a panic attack and you don't suffer from them, what do you think when you see one?

Neurotic Nelly


  1. I agree, if you're in the middle of a panic attack, having people gather around you saying, "I'm here for you! What can I do to help?" doesn't do much. I guess it would be better for supportive people to ask those questions ahead of time, like, "I know you have panic attacks. If you were having one, what would be the most helpful thing for me to do?" It might be to just tell others to leave you alone and give you some privacy, to keep others from going after you if you run out of the room. I think sometimes when people see someone having a panic attack they might think the person is having an asthma attack or a seizure and needs medical help or assistance.

  2. Angel, that is a very good point. It may appear that way to others especially if a person's panic attack makes the hyperventilate like mine do.