Friday, January 18, 2008

De nouveau, nous sommes faits payer notre maladie...

5,100 hits into Caveat lector, I've sometimes forgotten why I created this blog, but now it's time to rectify that. I recently watched a program about panic disorder and agoraphobia...these are things I live with, and while I feel I have made great strides in combating these afflictions, I sometimes feel that people in my life, especially those I am around most often and in some cases, those closest to me do not or cannot understand what it means to suffer from panic disorder. This is especially true if the panic attack effects them in any way or causes them to be inconvenienced. Most often, they take it personally and tend to escalate things from not great to really fucking bad...and then wonder why I have panic attacks.

Panic Disorder is the medical term for a psychiatric condition characterized by recurring panic attacks in combination with significant behavioral change with sometimes ongoing worry about the implications or concern about having other attacks.

Panic Disorder sufferers usually have a series of intense episodes of extreme anxiety, known as panic attacks. These attacks typically last 10 minutes, but can be as short-lived as 1–5 minutes. However, attacks can wax and wane for a period of hours—one panic attack rolling into another. They may vary in intensity and specific symptoms of panic over the duration (i.e. rapid heartbeat, perspiration, dizziness, dyspnea, trembling, psychological experience of uncontrollable fear, etc.). Some individuals deal with these events on a regular basis—sometimes daily or weekly. The outward symptoms of a panic attack often cause negative social experiences (i.e. embarrassment, social stigma, social isolation, etc.). However, experienced sufferers can often have intense panic attacks with very little outward manifestations of the attack occurring. As many as 36% of all individuals with Panic Disorder also have agoraphobia.

I am in the 36%.

While watching the aforementioned program, I was especially drawn toward the topic of when panic attacks started for the people in the documentary. In watching, listening and learning...I was able to narrow down what may have caused the onset of my own...although for 1) I pretty much knew anyway and 2) it's not going to change anything so why should I dwell on it...

One of the things that was mentioned but not really focused on was the fact that so many people get shunned and made fun of or are just plain doubted when it comes to this mental illness and it's effects. Often times if you are the least bit sociable, they will say "you don't have that" thinking they may know better. Others, as mentioned before, want to doubt your affliction because if they broke down and admitted that person in their life has something going on that they can't control, they may have to actually "work" at being there for that person...and that's just a little too much to ask in some cases...especially in romantic situations. Tell people you are addicted to drugs...they will sympathize and try to help you cope, but god help you if it's a mental illness.

I've read blog after blog, case study after case study of how mental illness, due to ignorance and people just thinking "they know better", is mocked, misunderstood and typically made much worse by the very people that a person with a panic disorder needs the most. Relative, Friend, romantic want to help them understand? Talk to them...explain...but don't go in not knowing what to say...describe your situation, but know what you are talking about and be ready to answer questions. They may try to make you feel like you are making excuses...but the ones who love you, REALLY love you, will want to understand and will be there for you. They won't carry you...but they will help you with the burden, and sometimes...that's all you got.

I hope this helps someone...either one of you who suffers from this fucked up illness...or maybe one of you who knows or suspects someone in your life does and find out more...try to be helpful...because a lot of's just feeling like someone understands that can make all the difference in the world.
Once again, we're made to pay for our illness...


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