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3 Ways Panic Attacks Can Hurt Your Relationships

Every person handles stress differently. Too much stress can take a toll on you physically and mentally. Your heart races and your chest feels like someone drop-kicked you.  It’s often mistaken as a heart attack , but you’re not dying (although it feels like it). Panic attacks are more common than most think – often targeting women. Those who suffer from panic disorder finds discomfort in social settings and high-pressure situations. Relationships with friends and family suffer as panic attacks isolates an individual.

1. You’re too cautious

People suffering from Panic attacks work endlessly to avoid a panic episode. For instance, resisting confrontation when defending yourself is necessary. Family disputes bring up memories or uncomfortable subjects which can escalate panicky feelings – this is a burden for someone with panic disorder. The concept of arguing takes on a new meaning and becomes life-altering. The simplest debates can flare up panic and cause fear of rejection. Panic attacks alienates a person from ever discussing a great concern to a family member which threatens honesty from those relationships.

Breathe…they’re just family

Don’t be afraid to talk to your family – they’ll still be around (if they truly love you). Be yourself and don’t hold back your feelings. The panic attacks will worsen if you refrain from speaking your mind. There are times I over think a family member’s reaction over something I say or do. But I’m a grown ass woman, every decision I make I have to deal with. If it causes friction (I kind of don’t give a crap if it does), we can talk about it, so my attacks don’t take over me.

Express what makes you uncomfortable

Family members might not be keen to the idea of walking-on-eggshells for you. Family relationships are relax and unfiltered. So when you decide to express what flares up your panic attack, illustrate what your attacks feel and look like. If your family experience what exactly happens, they’ll likely understand what your triggers are. And if a family member still acts like a douchebag to you, tell them your panic attacks make you do crazy things to people who are jerks (ok, leave the last line out) – just ignore that person and breathe.

2. Your boyfriend/girlfriend is freaked out

Emotions are hard to conceptualize – having a mental disorder makes it ten times difficult. No one enjoys a toxic relationship. Self-esteem and abandonment issues can easily develop panic disorder. The thought of your significant other leaving you or not sharing similar feelings can heighten panic and cause your lover to freak out. It’s hard being with someone who doesn’t understand your feelings, and talking to them maybe wasted effort (unless they’re awesome). Social outings with mutual friends might feel overwhelming or a simple night out for a movie sounds scary if you have panic attacks. Your partner will likely feel lost on what to do for you.

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Communication is vital

A romantic relationship is dead without communication. If you can’t break down to your lover why you have panic attacks, questions on rather this person is really meant for you should be asked. Otherwise, conduct an intimate conversation with your partner – tell them you feel the walls closing in sometimes and breathing is difficult. Express the impact panic disorder has on your mind and how important a support system is for you.

Alone time is ok

You’re not a shitty partner for asking for alone time. It’s perfectly normal to have time alone to breathe and calm down. Panic disorder has a tendency to create depressing episodes – date night might sound draining. Tell your partner it’s not them. Your mind and body have to meet halfway which requires silence and time to collect your thoughts. Time apart might benefit your relationship since you’re taking time to heal yourself. If your partner can’t accept your alone time, the relationship might not last. A lot of relationship strive from needy constant affection. Never put your health last. If your relationship causes you panic despite countless efforts to avoid it, leave – it’s not worth it.

3. Unfriending

Facebook isn’t the only place to unfriend someone. Your life-long friends or casual buddies will feel left out if you stop returning calls and messages. The thought of leaving the house and acting fun sounds consuming. Although some panic attack episodes are unpredictable, the slightest trigger can create chaos in your mind. You’ll try to avoid this from happening by simply staying home on a Friday night. Your best friend will blow up your phone like a psycho lover until they realize something isn’t right.

It’s not you, it’s me

Friends will feel butt-hurt if you flake on them constantly. Let them know it’s not you dude, it’s me. Panic disorder is a sneaky son-of-a-bitch that waits for no one! Panic attacks don’t care if you’re attending a wedding, birthday party, or finally getting lucky with your high school crush. Before you know it, your face plants inside a paper bag begging for air. Some of your friends will think you’re so weird or they’ll think it sucks. You’ll probably feel embarrassed explaining to all your friends, but you don’t have to. Tell one good friend who won’t judge you. Text everyone else and tell them you simply don’t feel like hanging out (get over it).

That’s what friends are for

You’re blessed if you have good friends who stick by you no matter what. I don’t mean silly friendships where your girlfriends urge you to leave your man (they’re single and miserable and want you to join them). I mean friends who will deliver you groceries because you’re too grief-stricken to get out of bed. You’ll recognize them and those are the ones you should confide in. Don’t feel ashamed to ask for help. Sometimes a person suffering from panic attacks need good friends to comfort them and tell them life isn’t too serious. If you are friends with someone who has panic disorder, share with them your personal struggle. Let them know they are not alone or weird.

 

 

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Kindle Jackson
Kindle Jackson

Kindle Jackson is a Tucson AZ native. Her Journalist piece “A Love/Hate Relationship with Tucson” was published by Tucson Weekly in 2009. Kindle is an honor graduate from Arizona State University with a B.A. in English Literature.

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