Woman’s List To Help Her Boyfriend Understand Her Anxiety And Panic Attacks Is Perfection

There’s still a lot of stigma surrounding mental illness—particularly anxiety and panic attacks. Many people insist they aren’t real disorders, dismissing those who suffer from them with the too-often repeated phrase, “it’s all in your head.”

While mental illness is a difficult subject to talk about to begin with, this pervasive attitude about panic attacks makes it even harder for those dealing with the attacks to talk about them. But that’s not stopping BuzzFeed’s Kelsey Darragh from opening up about how she combats her own panic and anxiety disorder.

When Kelsey’s boyfriend, who does not have the disorder, asked Kelsey how he can aid her when she’s in the throes of an attack, she put pen to paper and jotted down a list of all the things he can do to help her get through it.

Now, she’s shared the list online to help others who struggle with the same thing and those who want to help them.

Kelsey’s list of 15 realistic things you can do to help a loved one through a panic attack

1. Know that I am scared and won’t be able to explain why, so please don’t freak out or be annoyed with me.

2. Find my meds if they’re nearby and make sure I take it.

3. Breathing exercises are going to frustrate me but they are vital. Try and get me to sync my breathing with yours.

4. Make gentle suggestions of things we could do together to distract my panic. (Don’t tell me what I need/should do—and listen when I say no to something).

5. For dissociative panic= remind me that this has happened before and this too shall pass! It always does, but it’s scary AF when it’s happening, so maybe tell me some fun facts about me or our life together that will make me smile or laugh.

6. Sips of water can be helpful but don’t tell me I need to eat or drink because, trust me, I feel like I’m going to vomit.

7. Keep breathing with me!

8. If we can leave where we are – take me home!

9. Please be really really nice to me. I’m not feeling like myself and I’m embarrassed. Feeling guilty already for putting you through this so please don’t get frustrated with me.

10. Sometimes a really big, loose, long hug will make me feel safe.

11. Helping me breathe will be hard but so key!

12. If it’s really bad – call my mum or sister or BFF on the phone for me!

13. Tell me not to fight it – rather, let it pass through me. The more I try to control it [or for you to try and control it] the worse it will be. 

14. Empathize with me! You may not get it, but you get me!

15. Once it passes (like hours later), open up a dialogue with me about it. How’d you do? What can we do next time? 

Twitter was genuinely thankful for the tips:

They were also very supportive of Kelsey:

And noted her boyfriend’s willingness to help:

Some commenters, who suffer from similar attacks, shared tricks and techniques that help them get through it:

If you need help dealing with an anxiety or panic attack, or you’d just like to learn more about the disorder, call the Panic Disorder Information Hotline at 1-800-64-PANIC (72642).

H/T: indy100, Twitter


Written by Vanessa Nix Anthony

Vanessa is a freelance-flame-haired-word-ninja-for-hire with a passion for storytelling. Her writing has been featured in The Oregonian, Baltimore Magazine, Oregonlive, KPTV, Metro Parent, and Trulia, among others. She’s the author of the Amazon title, “In Less than a Year,” and her successful Portland-based copywriting agency, The Portland Writer has been helping businesses tell their brand’s unique stories for over a decade. When she’s not writing, cooking, or making magical worlds out of cardboard for her son, Vanessa is hard at work illustrating her forthcoming children’s books or belting out karaoke to favorite 80s or Disney villains tunes. TWITTER: @nessnix, INSTA: @nessnixtony