If you have never experienced a panic attack, you may wonder how you could ever help your loved one. It is difficult when you do not understand what we need and sometimes it is just as hard for us to tell you. Here, then, are some suggestions from our members in their own words, as well as some insight as to what we may be experiencing.
1. If we go somewhere, please give me the control to be there
or to leave. I will stay longer when I feel more in control and not helpless.
2. Accept that this is part of me for now. It will change the more I feel I have control of my environment and feel comfortable adapting to what is going on around me.
3. DO NOT PRESSURE ME with your silent or expressed anger or annoyance because we might have to leave. That only makes it more difficult for me next time.
4. Understand that I do not want to have this and I must find my path out of it my way.
5. Give me SUPPPORT, LOVE and ACCEPTANCE.
Just be there for me. Let me move at my own pace but keep me moving and please don't force me into anything I don't want to do. Make sure I know that I have a way out. Keep me in the present and distract me with conversation. Re-assure me that everything is ok. Ask me if there's anything you can do to make me more comfortable. Reimnd me to start by doing simple tasks and then work up to more difficult ones. Don't get mad, angry, or upset with me if Ican't do something. Make sure I am feeling good before going out and practicing, not hungry, tired etc. If I can't do something, let me know that it was a good try and that next time I will do even better.
Although you may not be able to relate to what I am going through, please don't tell me to "just snap out of it." Boy, I sure would if I could. Realize that when I am going through a panic attack, everything seems out of control so do not put any demands on me. Tell me that although you may not know exactly what I'm experiencing, you are there for me and you realize that it must be very difficult. Don't try to psychoanalyze me to figure out why I may be feeling panicky
A way to help is to be sensitive to me and not judgemental. It is a real and unpleasant feeling and telling me "to get a grip" is not the answer. No one chooses to be like this- it is exhausting, debilitating and not so easy to overcome. Patience is the key for anyone who wants to help someone with PD. Just get educated, learn the tools and time will heal.
Be understanding of the moment when panic does take place. Be there for me and pitch in to help me ride the moment out. Whether it be exiting, holding my hand, talking me down, or whatever it takes. Stay with the moment and do not desert me. Sometimes, just being there by my side even in silence does help. Your presence can simply be my "security blanket" in overcoming that terrible moment!
First and foremost: TRY TO UNDERSTAND! Then, try to reassure me and whatever you do, don't miminize what I am feeling. To me, it is VERY REAL!
Reassure me that I am OK and you are there for me. Touch me gently, sometimes someone touching me brings me back to reality. Encourage me for ANY ACCOMPLISHMENT, no matter how small it may seem to you...it's a LOT for me. Positive reinforcement helps give me the strength to conquer the fear and builds self esteem and reassures me that I WILL overcome this disorder. People who are not supportive or think it's all in our head should be AVOIDED. These people HURT us and stunt our growth. I have tried to stay away from NEGATIVE people. If they don't understand and accept me for the person I am, then it's not worth bothering with them.
Be patient. Don't get mad at me.Talk to me- it helps get my mind off of the panic. The main thing is be supportive. It means a lot.
Advise them to get cognitive therapy. The MEDS help but the fear of the fear can be the worst. That's where I have the toughest time. All the WHAT IF'S etc.
Know as much as you can about this disorder if you really want to help me. Lead me through things that are difficult for me, small steps at a time. Let me know that you understand what I need and let me lead the way. Don't ever try to make me stay at or in a place that is uncomfortable for me- help me get to my safe place. The next time, I will feel more at ease because you have shown you are dependable and do not want to force me into something that I am not ready to do. Soon, you will see how much your effort is helping me, a person can actually change a person's life with knowledge, understanding and kindness.
First of all, you need to be educated on PD.
Talk to me and assure me that you will not force me into anything I don't want to do and that you will take me to my safe place if need be.Just conversation- laughter would be great. Help me get involved with something- like focusing on something else. For me, I need to hear sounds and laughter but the most important thing for me is to have someone to talk to who understands and we can just talk through this.
The best thing others can do to help us is just be there for
us and listen to us.
Don't criticize what we have to say or what we feel associated with panic and make us sound like a weak human being.
"The Color of Ink".
This is one of the strongest tools, in my opinion, to help me through panic. And by this I mean just TALK to me, about anything or nothing at all. Talk about the clouds, the grass I am standing on, the light across from me, THE COLOR OF INK. Talk about the different colors ink comes in nowadays. These little calm thoughts send me messages that I am ok and that life is calm. Ink comes in many colors and we can even name them- very calm talk about nothing at all and I am under control.
When I am with a panic friend, I rub their back lightly if they allow this, tell them they are ok, and ramble until they once again find their strong focus.
Make me smile, make me laugh, always remember panic cannot exist when a person is laughing.
1. Ask me questions.
2. Try to understand that I am not "crazy". This is a chemical imbalance in the brain It can be controlled by medications and positive strides.
3. Don't treat me any diffferently once you know about the panic.
4. Don't force me to go someplace I feel very uncomfortable about going. Do not suprise me by doing it anyhow.
5. If I leave early, please try to understand. Don't bad mouth me behind my back and then let me hear about it later.
Try and find something that distracts me. Start talking about other things. Be supportive, listen to what I am saying. We all need different things- all of us have different things that help us. Encourage me in my successes and buoy me up when I feel like I've had a failure. If they have tools, help them remember them, and even help them use them. Try to have them concentrate on breathing and trying to relax their bodies.
STAY WITH ME!
Do not leave me- talk to me, touch me, rub my back, and reassure me. Just keep talking about anything so that I have to concentrate on your talking and can try to ignore the panic. Know the tools for controlling panic attacks and remind me of some ideas I can use.
You can make a world of difference in the life of someone you love by trying to understand panic disorder and in learning what you can do to help us. Your support is a critical link in our recovery.
If you would like more information on how to support your loved ones, please email us for help.
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