OK, I’ll not panic. The end.
Are you kidding?! Do you think I would choose to be hyperventilating at 03:57 am if I had a magic panic on/off switch? And don’t tell me to calm down. Don’t make me angry. I’ll turn green, burst out of my pyjamas then demand you drag me and my rapidly expiring body into A & E.
Tell me it’s a panic attack. Tell me it will run its course. Acknowledge how terrifying it is. Remind me it can’t kill me. Show me cute kitten videos on YouTube. Anything. Just…
DON’T TELL ME TO CALM DOWN!
Like I’m not! Don’t get me wrong, mid panic attack I’m not much use. But then if you’re struck down with the Norovirus and your head’s lolling over the netty you’re not much use either. Does that make you a weak person? I think not.
‘You’ll make yourself ill with worry’
You don’t say! Twenty odd years of medical records peppered with ‘patient appeared anxious’, ‘patient offered beta blockers’, ‘patient convinced her throat is closing up’. Do you not think I am already ill!? I’m sorry I don’t have an image of a fracture or a luminous black and orange skin rash. But I will not request a lobotomy just to prove that an illness exists inside my head.
‘You’re not good with illness are you?’
Erm. Yes, actually. When I know what I’m dealing with. My 17 year old pneumonia-riddled pleuritic lungs did not stop me donning high heels and a 90s shift dress from Bay Trading Co, hitting the Blue Lamp pub and snogging my ill-suited, long-haired, over-friendly teenage boyfriend. Sadly.
It’s the unknown I can’t deal with, not the diagnosis, not the pain and not the 90-Marlboro Red-a-day hack. What if it’s a rare 1:1,000,000 progressive disease that causes your lungs to explode out of your chest and makes you spontaneously combust?
Oh, it’s pneumonia. Cool. I’ll go clubbing.
(Sorry mum, I realise that meant an extra week of phlegmy convalescing on the sofa).
‘Have a drink.’
Yeah, because delaying the inevitable, multiplying it by about a thousand and letting it loose with the added complication of a blood sugar plummet and booze-induced amnesia is really going to help. Cup of Yorkshire’s finest will do nicely thank you very much.
But we know you’re only trying to help – and once we’re out of the panic zone, we will still thank you for it 🙂
If you want to read more about my experience of Generalised Anxiety Disorder, stigma and stereotypes, you can order my book, A Series of Unfortunate Stereotypes here (for UK orders) and here (for US orders).