To My Roommate Who's Witnessing My Anxiety Attack


I know this probably wasn’t what you were hoping to come home to today. I know you may not want to see me this way. And trust me, I don’t want to be this way.

I notice your expressions of shock and concern. I see that you want to do something, that you want to help, but maybe you don’t know what to do. You might think it’s best if you just leave me alone, but I actually need you more than ever right now. So here’s what you can do:

Let me know I am safe. There is a profound disconnect occurring between my brain and body right now. I feel as though there is a very real, very imminent threat to my safety that is not grounded in reality. All logic has gone by the wayside, and my thoughts are racing at a million miles an hour. Let me know the contrary is true, that I am safe and OK. Help bring me back to reality before my thoughts consume me.

Hold me. I’m not saying this because I am desperate for your affection, I say this because it works. Studies have actually shown sustained physical contact can help slow biological rhythms. So if I’m panicking, hold me. Don’t let go until I come back to reality.

Just talk. I am desperate for anything to distract me from all the noise in my head. I may not be able to hold a conversation with you, but please keep talking. Tell me about your day, or find a funny story to chat about. It helps more than you might think.

Ask me if I’ve taken my medicine. Chances are I neglected to think about the benzodiazepines I have for emergency situations like this. Ask me if I’ve taken my meds, and if not, where to locate them. It also may be a good idea to grab a paper bag in case I hyperventilate before they have a chance to work.

Just be as understanding as you can. I know it can be hard to wrap your mind around this. I know you may not understand why this is happening or why I am this way. I don’t understand why I am this way. I know it can be easy to jump to conclusions, and I don’t blame you for that. Just, if you can, try to be empathetic.

Know that this will pass. And let me know that, too. This is only temporary, and everything will be OK.

Thank you for being here.

Image via Thinkstock.

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