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To the Supervisor Who Saw Me Have a Public Panic Attack


I told you I was being put on medication a month and a half ago, and you were so accommodating. I warned you I might have side effects, and you told me it was fine and if I needed five, to just tell you. Thank you.

Three weeks ago, I started a new medication. I woke up in the morning hardly able to focus. It was a big weekend at work — a double discount weekend — and I’d agreed to an all-day shift. When I called in sick because I was spacing out and could barely walk, let alone drive, you said it was fine, and if I felt up to it, I could make up the hours tomorrow. This job is my only income. I felt so embarrassed about having the day off.

Today, you were on lunch when I started shaking and hyperventilating and the tightness in my chest caused me to walk out of the back door on a line full of customers, and sit outside, riding out the panic attack. When I came back in, served two more customers and immediately started crying, another staff member suggested I should go see you about going home. 

When I got to the staff room, my face bright red with embarrassment and wet with tears, my voice shaking so much I could barely speak, you told me it was OK. You took me to a side office and sat me down and told me it was OK again. You told me to stay in there until I felt I could drive, and then take myself home.

Those words in that moment meant the world to me. I had never had a panic attack in public before, nor one that lasted more than 10 minutes, let alone the 30 or so this one was. I was scared, I was embarrassed, I was sure I was going to lose my job, but you were compassionate and kind. I can’t thank you enough.

Sincerely,

A grateful colleague

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