A Good Friend Knows Their Panic Stations

| AB, Canada | Friendly | May 24, 2017

I have severe panic attacks, but am trying to learn to cope with them and to do some small things by myself. Stores trigger them badly, so I normally stay with my parents, but decide to try and see if I can manage a very quick stop by myself. I leave my parents in the car and go into the store, intending to simply cross the store, grab the item I need, pay, and go back to the car.

I get across the store and get the item I need but as I’m waiting to pay, I can feel an attack coming on. I manage to pay quickly and ask where the bathroom is. As soon as the assistant tells me, I hightail it to the bathroom and lock myself in one of the stalls, just before the attack hits fully. It’s the first time I’ve had an attack in a public place when I’ve been alone, so the panic part is even worse than normal, and I can’t do much except sit on the toilet and rock back and forth, crying.

Eventually, I manage to think that I should contact someone, but there’s no-one I can think of to contact, since I rarely feel able to talk to anyone about it. Then I remember my best friend has Skype, so I send him a message asking for help. He proceeds to talk me through the early stages of the attack, before bombarding me with a plethora of images of sloths (my favourite animal) to distract me until finally, the attack wears off and I manage to get home safely.

It’s terrifying having a panic attack, worse knowing you can’t talk to most people you know, but if you have one best friend who’s like a brother to you and will drop everything to Google sloth pictures when he should be working? You’re blessed.

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  • Courtney

    You have an awesomely amazing best friend! For a person with anxiety
    disorders and panic attacks, having someone you can trust who will drop
    everything to help you during a bad time is priceless… my best friend
    is similar – I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and whenever I
    was having an anxiety attack, if I was alone at home he would talk to
    me on the phone and send me pictures of kittens (I love kittens), and if
    we were in a public setting and having an attack, he’d quickly bundle me
    off to as private a corner as we could find and talk me through it.
    Friends like that are awesome.

    • Scot MrSpellcheck Rogers

      Both you and the OP sound like you have amazing male best friends. Step back and see if you both have not put these guys into the friend-zone. 😉 I would bet that at least one of these situations would turn in to a long term relationship if you let it. Baby steps, but go for it, both of you. 😉

      • Mara Jade

        Seriously, shut up with the friend-zone bullshit.

      • AThornAmongRoses

        Seriously, someone talks about having a best friend who’s male, and you immediately jump to, “You owe it to him to let him date you/sleep with you!”, which is all this ‘friend-zone’ shit is.

      • Courtney

        1. The whole concept of the “Friend Zone” is repugnant. The idea that a man and a woman cannot be friends unless they are sleeping together, and that somehow a woman ‘owes’ it to a man to have sex with him if he is nice to her is insulting to both men and women. You appear to have a very low opinion of your own male gender if you think men are incapable of having meaningful non-sexual relationships with women.

        2. And I cannot say this enough: women are NOT mindless machines that a man can drop ‘kindness coins’ into until sex falls out – we do not owe it to you to have sex with you.

        3. I am married, and my best friend (who is, yes, a man) was the Best Man for my husband at my wedding. My best friend is more like a protective older brother to me than anything else, he sees me as a sister who needs protecting rather than a ‘potential sexual conquest’ and he would be just as offended as I am by the whole “friend zone’ concept here.

        4. I feel sorry for you though, if you are incapable of seeing women as anything more than potential conquests. You’re missing out on potentially fulfilling friendships that way.

      • Isa Frostborn

        Go away.

      • Nicola Biswell

        Definitely no friendzone here 🙂 He’s happily engaged, and asked me to help him work out the proposal XD We’ve never been more than that, and as far as I’m aware, are both perfectly happy that way. (OP here)

    • Katrin Schirmer

      my best friend will drive to my house if i’m having issues at home if its at all possible for her to do so, and she lives 30 minutes away. shes also one of the few people who can keep me calm in public just by being there with me. i really don’t know what i would do without her.

      • Courtney

        Best friends like that are awesome. Sounds like your friend is a fantastic person! 🙂

        • Katrin Schirmer

          yeah. i’m lucky to have her. shes been looking out for me ever since i met her in high school. and she has a list of skills and knowledge that makes her really useful for apocalypse planning, so we have a lot of fun conversations about what we would do should society crumble. lol

    • Balentay

      My best friend has anxiety and where we don’t out very often together (I have mobility issues) whenever it’s just the two of us out and about I’m more than happy to do stuff like go out in my pajamas so people pay attention to me and not him, get our ordered food (at a restaurant) to go before it arrives at our table, go up to the counter to get more napkins, approach employees at stores with our questions, or get him the fuck out of there when he needs it. Often times I can’t always tell when he’s having an attack, especially somewhere on the bus but he always lets me know when he’s starting to get uncomfortable or needs support. On the bus as I mentioned we’ll sit together and he’ll either lean on me or press his leg against mine to ground himself while he listens to music.

  • Max

    Why is this here? Seems more like NAH…

    • Larthan Delaponte

      While you’re right, sometimes it’s nice to break up the monotony of ‘yeah these people are dicks’ to remind you that sometimes, people are decent. Sometimes.

      • Taco

        But your forgetting that some of us hate these innocent stories….. I get it” there is some good” i don’t care though

    • Sjerrie van Londen

      I think they recently merged all the “Not Always…” sites.

      • saiga123

        But it’s still tagged as ‘Friendly’, not ‘Hopeless’.

    • VillyJean

      I’m guessing it was submitted here because it was about her friend. I doubt they move stories around to different categories than the ones they were submitted to.

      • Megan

        They’ve done that with at least one of my submissions that I can remember seeing (and only by chance). It was about a customer who was hitting on me. I submitted it to NAR, and they put it in the Romantic one. *gag*

        • VillyJean

          Well that’s just silly.

  • randomnessdoubled

    Not judging, just genuinely confused. OP’s parents, who presumably know about the panic attacks, are sat waiting in a car outside. But instead of going back out to the car, OP decides to hide in a bathroom instead? (Which I realise is probably due to the panic attack clouding any or all logical thinking.) And then, instead of calling said parents, OP calls a friend. And at no point the parents come looking for OP, after what (I’m guessing) must be a disproportionate amount of time gone for what OP was attempting to do.
    (I’m not doubting this happened or judging OP for what happened. If the parents hadn’t been mentioned, I wouldn’t have any issue with it. It’s simply the parents mention and then lack of subsequent role that’s confusing me.)

    • DragonEmpress

      The panic probably made OP forget. I’ve never had a real panic attack, but when I do panic, often logic and memory go out the window.

    • Catherine Stone

      I’ve had panic attacks like that. Your brain shuts down and you focus on getting somewhere safe. Some place that locks, like a bathroom, is somewhere I’d run. I’d probably call my best friend too. She does a much better job of calming me back down than my folks would.

      • randomnessdoubled

        That’s what I’d figured but as I have no experiences (personal or otherwise) with panic attacks, I just wasn’t sure.

    • Jackie Fauxe

      Maybe the parents don’t have cell phones?

      Also, it kinda reads like the OP stays with their parents in the car while someone else does shopping. Maybe the OP’s parents have issues of their own?

      • Celoptra

        um how can it read like that. the Op CLEAR said the parents were LEFT IN THE CAR. and the OP was the one who did her shopping.

        • Jackie Fauxe

          “Stores trigger them badly, so I normally stay with my parents”

          I was meant usually, not during this story.

          • VillyJean

            I think OP meant that she stays with them while they shop.

            I’m agoraphobic and basically the only way I can stave off panic attacks is by having something to focus on. It is best if I have someONE to focus on. So I stay close to my boyfriend and stay focused on him. It also helps knowing that he knows the signs of me starting to lose my shit and knows what to do to help calm me before it gets too bad.

          • Nic

            The “them” in that sentence is OP’s anxiety attacks, not the parents.

          • Jackie Fauxe

            Yes, I’m aware of that. Thank you, though.

            I was referring to the fact that it doesn’t say where the OP stays with their parents. It’s entirely possible it’s in the store, but, since the parents weren’t called to help, it’s possible that the parents normally stay in the car too.

          • Nic

            I really don’t think that fits – if all three of them normally stayed in the car, there would be no-one to go shopping. It’s far simpler: the OP normally stays with her parents while they all go around the store.

            She’s said further down in the comments that she couldn’t call her parents to help because they don’t have mobiles, and she headed for the loos instead of her parents in the car park simply because it was closer.

          • Jackie Fauxe

            I offered it as an interpretation, same as I did with guessing that maybe her parents didn’t have cell phones. I also wondered if maybe someone else usually did the shopping for them.

            I do think all of my guesses fit within what was presented. At the time, she hadn’t posted and clarified what did happen–that she usually goes in with her parents and hadn’t called them because they don’t have cell phones.

    • Vulpis

      I’m more concerned that the parents didn’t come to check on her when she took an inordinate amount of time in the store…

      • godzillahomer

        maybe they were about to when she came out or they did, but either they noticed her bestie was helping her or were not mentioned in the story

        point is, I doubt we have the full picture here

    • Nicola Biswell

      Actually, I can answer the issues there, as I was the OP.
      The reason I didn’t go outside was because it was a shorter distance to the bathroom, and I knew it would be safer to be in a quiet place than to be trying to cross a parking lot while having a panic attack.
      I didn’t call my parents because they don’t have mobile phones, and even if they did, I couldn’t have called them because I was on a roaming plan and couldn’t have afforded it, but I had a data allowance, so could use Skype to talk to my friend.
      My parents didn’t come in to look for me because they knew I wanted to try and do it by myself, and it would have been counter-productive to come check on me as it would just stress me out about not being able to do things and possibly trigger an attack even if I wasn’t about to have one

      • Li

        My sister has severe anxiety and has developed agoraphobia as a result. I know exactly how that catch-22 works, (trying to help yet not make things worse), and it sucks. *hugs* It seems like you’ve got a lot of support.

  • BitDreamer

    To the OP – there are Android apps that might help. I don’t know anything about them, but a quick look in Play Store shows a few.

    • Vulpis

      …I get the mental image of the OP having a app that puts a big friendly ‘Panic Attack’ button on the phone, that slideshows sloths when pressed.

      • wizelda

        I would so download that app!

  • sacke5

    To NAR crew. This story has come up twice since I started clicking on Previous Story. So you still have something to fix.

    • Aku

      I noticed, too. Same story, same location, different tags and URLs. Still a few kinks to iron out, I guess.

  • Natasha

    I feel like OP should be talking to her doctor about these panic attacks. When they start to interfere with doing the most basic of tasks, then you need to seek therapy and medication. Good on the friend for helping OP, but at some point, they aren’t going to be there to talk you down.

    • Agent Tarter

      The OP is probably already doing so if he/she’s been slowly trying to push limits, like handling short trips to the store alone. Even with the best of therapy and medication, it’s by no means an instant process.

    • Isa Frostborn

      Why do you assume they aren’t? Symptoms don’t just magically go away as soon as you start therapy.

  • Celoptra

    So guys what does a person do if they don’t own a cellphone or they do own a cellphone but it wouldn’t have (fancy features-like sending pictures or text) and they have a panic attack? My parents don’t want me (despite being a YA) to go out on my own since they’re concerned about me having my own panic attacks (We call them meltdowns).

    • godzillahomer

      don’t own cellphone, try and manage with various exercises, like deep calming breaths or similar

      own cellphone, call a friend for help, either talk you out of the panic attack or come get you

      but any preventions like these would never be a one size fits all measure

    • Megan

      One thing that really helps me when I fixate on something (which can lead to a panic attack) is to visualize a stop sign and say “Stop! Stop!” over and over in my head. If you do own a cell phone, call someone who will help you. But what calms one person isn’t necessarily going to calm another. For me, it’s having someone there to repeatedly say “It’s ok, everything’s ok” until I stop having the attack.

      It’s definitely something you need to work on consciously. I wish you success, and hope that you will be able to get it under control at least to the point you can go out alone.

    • Nicola Biswell

      If I don’t have mine, I have a little stuffed sloth that my friend gave me, and told me that it would ‘protect me’, as well as a fidget cube and a few other little things like a coloring book. Just knowing I have all that with me now helps a lot, even if it did add weight to my bag

    • Nic

      I don’t have panic attacks myself, but I did hear that giving yourself a mental task to concentrate on (e.g. counting to ten out of sequence, counting backwards in a foreign language, figuring out how many tiles are in the toilet cubicle…) can help to derail the panic attack.

    • wizelda

      Deep breathing is the only thing that works for me (in through the nose, out through the mouth). We’ll, not really “works”, keeps it under control. I have a mild benzo that works just fine, but I don’t want to overuse it, due to the addiction-thing, so I usually try to postpone taking it and do breathing exercises (there are apps for that too).

  • Truly a good friend 🙂