Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Current of Panic

Hands start shaking.
Heart is pounding.
Faster, faster.
Everything feels loud, too much.
I might feel too hot.
I might feel too cold.
Something is wrong.
Something is terribly, horribly wrong.
I need to know what is wrong.
I need to know what has happened.
I need to know what's next.
I need to close my eyes.
I need quiet.
I need to hold on to someone, something, anything.

This is panic.

It is a strong, sweeping current.
To put one's feet down is counterintuitive.
To think with logic is to swim upstream.

If you're sitting beside someone when panic hits them,
be patient.
Be calm.
Don't ask questions; decisions incite further panic.

"What do you need?"
I don't know what I need.
"Can I help you with something?"
Yes, please.
"Do you need water?"
Please get me a glass.
But don't place it in my hands;
I may not be able to hold it.
"Keep breathing."
I'm trying.
"Deep breaths."
I'm trying.
"Slow down.
I'm trying.

Conversation is helpful.
You could tell me a story.
Your words may slow the centrifugal force of my convinced thoughts that something horrible has happened, will happen, is happening -
even if all is well.

But don't ask me to respond.
I probably can't answer you.

Just talk. Gently and quietly. About something else.

I might seem annoyed or agitated; that's because I'm trying to swim upstream and that's hard to do. I cannot control the physiology, I can only try to grab onto a limb of truth as the current threatens to carry me away.

If you're sitting with someone in panic,
talk slowly and gently.
Talk about something else.
Don't ask them to respond.
Just be patient.

They're waiting for the storm to pass.


Lisa Smith said...

Your words...oh how they describe what I've experienced. Mine tend to come while I'm driving. Not that any time is a good time, but that is especially awful. Especially with kids in the car. Have to tell myself the story, talk myself down from the edge. I continue praying for you and your boys...and thank you for continuing to share your heart.


Tricia, I need these words. At this very moment, I need them. I need my husband to read them to understand how to help me. I need to read them to know how to help my grown daughter. (I don't know if I am feeling her panic or my own.) Thank you.

Brenda said...

Love your use of words. You describe my feelings of panic over situations I hve no control over so well. Praying for you and your boys.

Donna said...

I have been there and you describe it SO well. These are great words for somebody who cannot describe to others what they feel in a panic attack. Thank you for verbalizing this. Bless you!