Tuesday, October 16, 2018

HOW I HELPED BY PETER MARSHALL

Another article from Peter about how he has helped me deal with my anxiety - I hope this helps those who need it as much as his first article did! (Thank you from both of us for the lovely responses to his previous post!) 

When Bobbi asked me to write about how I helped her deal with her panic attacks, I was a little worried. I’m hesitant to write this, as I am not a medical professional in any way; I simply tried to help the person I love overcome something that held her hostage day after day. So I want to say that if you do have panic attacks, do not think that what I am suggesting will fix it instantly. Helping Bobbi get over her panic attacks took almost every day of a year and a half of talking with her, and even now she still gets anxious. If you do suffer from panic attacks, please read the advice of actual medical professionals and charities. The UK’s mental health services are absolute rubbish at the moment, through no fault of those medical professionals that try to help others, they just cannot afford to. Be wary of services like “BetterHelp” that do not require professional councillors, (I have provided links about this at the end). There are two useful links below, one to the charity Mind and one to the NHS website. These are professional organisations that can help you and are in a much better position to give advice and support than me. You are not alone if you have panic attacks, and there are people who can help you.

I can’t remember when I saw Bobbi first have a panic attack. I know that it was probably at my halls accommodation in my first year of university, when she started shaking slightly and crying uncontrollably. I don’t remember what it was that set her anxieties off, and I don’t remember what I said to help relax her. What I do remember is how they continued, and how I tried to help her. The panic attacks were much worse in first year, with them happening more than once daily at their worst. Like many people who have panic attacks, some of hers occurred out of the blue and had no apparent cause. However, the main reasons for Bobbi’s panic attacks were worrying about people close to her like her family and myself. Because of Bobbi’s paranoia, she would often make illogical assumptions as to whether or not myself or a member of her family were safe in a certain situation when she could not contact them or get hold of them. It’s hard to explain this fully to someone who does not understand the reasons behind her worrying and how trapped she could sometimes feel due to these destructive and detrimental thoughts. 

So, when she started having panic attacks, I tried to help with logical leaps. I walked her through what she was worrying about and why she didn’t need to worry about it. I told her to take deep breaths to help her relax, and that she needed to try and tell herself that things would be okay. I tried to get her to walk through what was happening. I would say to her that she needed to just keep going over the more likely scenarios in her head and tell her self that she was wrong to think something bad had happened. It didn’t always, if ever really, work on the day of the panic attack. Simply saying that something was very unlikely didn’t convince her on the day. It was more a gradual progression, by which Bobbi began to process her worries and anxieties on a level that didn’t catastrophise it as much. 

I sat with Bobbi through a lot of panic attacks, holding her hand, breathing with her, pacing with her, telling her why it would be okay. Every time I did, I was right. Even though she still worries and is still anxious, she has coping mechanisms she has picked up both from me, and that she has developed herself, to control it. Make sure you talk to someone you trust if you need help with your panic attacks, bottling it up and hiding her feelings made it worse for Bobbi. Try to talk to a qualified councillor if you can, try to get help from friends and relatives. If you are a partner of someone who has panic attacks, please try to be understanding if you are not already. I know that it is a lot of emotional labour to help people through struggles, so please don’t feel like that burden is wholly yours to bear. Don’t leave them, or yourself, alone. 

Be sure to look after yourselves.

P x 
  
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