Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia can negatively affect relationships. The sufferers may be more dependent on family members than they would like to be, and family members may resent having more responsibilities shifted onto them because of the loved one’s limitations. The sufferers often feel misunderstood by their family members who have never experienced the puzzling symptoms themselves. Good communication without blaming each other, and information are critical in coping with panic attacks.
The Plea of Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia Sufferers to their Family Members
Please don’t treat me as if I were defective, weak, or “crazy.”
You wouldn’t judge a person who came down with a heart problem or diabetes. Panic disorder has its roots in heredity and physiology, just like those other illnesses. People from all walks of life can have panic disorder, even the rich, famous, and successful. Just about everybody has some health issue. I have this.
Please don’t call me a hypochondriac.
My body is making me feel like I am terribly ill or losing my mind. These feelings are real, physical, feelings and they can be observed in a laboratory. Panic disorder symptoms are not imaginary like in hypochondriasis. They mimic the symptoms of some serious illnesses. It would be helpful if you would offer to accompany me to the doctor so we can rule out any medical problem.
Please don’t tell me to calm down, I have already tried that a million times.
All I do is try to calm down and it doesn’t help. Telling me to calm down makes me feel like a failure, even though it is well documented that simply “calming down” doesn’t work with Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia. Medicine and/or cognitive-behavioral treatment with a specialist are what does help. Maybe you could help me find treatment instead, or just reassure me that I am safe.
Please don’t tell me that I am doing this to myself or that I “have to stop”.
You wouldn’t blame people with diabetes or cancer for causing it themselves. You wouldn’t expect them to magically cure themselves. If I knew how to stop the symptoms, I would.
Please don’t think that I’m just making this up, or faking it to get out of doing something or going someplace.
I don’t know why my symptoms come and go, or why I am able to do some things without panicking and not others. But experts will tell you that this is the nature of Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia. Maybe this disorder does “get me out of” doing things but, I am paying a huge price for this. It’s like my life is being closed off to me. I’m unable to do the things I love to do as well as things I don’t like. I would never choose this as a way of slacking off. All I want is my life back.
Please don’t tell me, “oh just do it.”
You have to understand that sometimes the simplest task seems as impossible as jumping off the top of a mountain. If someone told you to jump off the top of a mountain, would you be able to “just do it?”
Please don’t let me suffer when help is available.
If we have been to the doctor and ruled out a medical cause, then please help me find a therapist who specializes in Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia treatment so I can finally be convinced that Panic Disorder is what I have. If the diagnosis of Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia is correct, I have an excellent chance of getting better.
Oh, and last but notlLeast…
Thank you for trying so hard so far, and for not giving up on me. Just like I can’t be expected to have some magical knowledge about how to handle my panic attacks, I know that you can’t be expected to have magical knowledge about how to handle a person with panic attacks. Let’s not let it come between us. Let’s keep talking.