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. Weknow. 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 outa 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.
so here’s a fun story about this movie. guess who loves this movie? me! i do! i love this movie. i love this movie so much that when i was in the 7th grade and i saw “first wives club 2” on pay per view i was like: HELL YEAH!! FIRST WIVES CLUB TWO!! NO ONE TOLD ME THERE WAS A SEQUEL!!!
here’s the synopsis for first wives club 2:
disgruntled first wives take their ex-husbands’ new lovers under their wing.
sounds great, right? awesome viewing material for a precocious 11-year-old.
so i buy this movie, and like, three minutes into it i’m starting to feel suspicious?? like it’s really low quality and my girls are nowhere in sight?? how come none of the first wives are the same?? how come they’re alone in a bedroom with mood lighting?? why is she taking off her shirt?? why are they both taking off their shirts?? WHY ARE THEY—
here’s what i did not know about first wives club 2:
- it is a lesbian porno of no relation to the beloved 1996 classic.
so of course i, horrified that i’ve accidentally bought porn on my family’s account (and in that state of panic that kids work themselves into whenever anything regarding sex is mentioned), quickly shut off the TV and go upstairs and watch an episode of veggie tales to like, cleanse my soul and apologize to jesus, and that’s that.
EXCEPT, OF COURSE:
- you have to pay for pay per view.
so the end of the month comes and i have completely put this incident out of my mind, haha, i accidentally bought porn, how funny, TELL NO ONE. right? and i’m sitting at a nice dinner with my mother, my stepfather, and my very religious aunt deb, and we’re just talking about farm things, whatever, when suddenly my mother puts her fork down and says, “okay, there’s something we need to discuss. as a family.”
- AS A FAMILY.
and i’m like, running through a list of people i know who could conceivably be dead, and fantasizing about my mother announcing that she’s going to buy me My Own Computer Just Because U Earned It Kiddo, and she pulls out a piece of paper that says DIRECTV across the top. and i’m like: OH NO.
"i received the tv bill today," my mother said, and i was like, shoveling potatoes into my mouth as fast as i could because i knew that when i went to PORN PRISON they weren’t going to feed me this kind of quality starch. "does anybody want to tell me who purchased the pornography?"
as a reminder, a quick table survey:
- my mother, surprised and disappointed by the porn bill (innocent)
- my stepfather, a grumbly old cowboy who just wants to sing along to kenny chesney and watch the hunt for red october (innocent)
- my aunt deb, a super religious catholic whose best friend is a nun named Sister Placid (innocent)
- me, the 11-year-old with a mouthful of potatoes who definitely purchased the lesbian pornography
my mother said, “i’m not going to ask again.”
my aunt looked at my stepdad. my stepdad looked at my aunt. NOBODY LOOKED AT ME, THE 11-YEAR-OLD WITH A MOUTHFUL OF POTATOES WHO DEFINITELY PURCHASED THE LESBIAN PORNOGRAPHY.
my mother shook her head and put the bill down. “this was incredibly inappropriate,” she said. “skip, deb, whoever. buy that shit on your own time. i’m not paying for it. what if molly had seen it?”
- WHAT IF MOLLY HAD SEEN IT?
"don’t expose my kid to that crap."
- MY KID
- TO THAT CRAP
"if you want to watch porn, fine, but do it in private and don’t expect me to pay for it. i can’t believe one of you did that in the living room."
- I CAN’T BELIEVE ONE OF YOU DID THAT
- IN THE LIVING ROOM
but molly, why didn’t you own up to it and explain that it was an accident?
- are you fucking kidding
- i did not want to go to porn prison
the fun conclusion to this story is that i never owned up to it, which means that there are 3 people in the world who have not solved the mystery of the lesbian porn. a quick survey:
- my mother, who lives every day wondering whose porn she paid for
- my stepfather, who probably wishes he knew less about his wife’s sister’s porn preferences
- my aunt, who probably wishes she knew less about her sister’s husband’s porn preferences
but molly, why don’t you own up to it now, with the safety of time and distance and the knowledge that porn prison isn’t real?
- are you fucking kidding
- this is the best thing i’ve ever done
rebloging self for Molly, who gave me the best laugh all night and you all need to read it and laugh
I actually had trouble reading this to my boyfriend because I kept dissolving into a weepinG, laughing puddle
chuck e cheeses full real name is charles entertainment cheese and honestly i feel appalled and lied to
the airplane scene is truly iconic.