Driving into work is when I do a lot of my deepest thinking. The other day, I got to thinking about all the brave women I have met over the years on Twitter, particularly through the #ppdchat hosted by Lauren Hale every Monday. What’s so great about the #ppdchat Army (as we call ourselves) is that anyone can reach out at any time—even in the middle of the night—by tweeting with the #ppdchat hashtag and be instantly comforted, talked down from the ledge (both metaphorically and even literally), and reminded that feeling anxious or depressed isn’t forever. Because the #ppdchat support spans multiple continents and two social media sites, someone is almost always around to help.
Thinking even more deeply about this, however, I realized that I see the same phrases used over and over: “Big hugs,” “Sending you strength,” and so on. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to say those phrases. They’re being said over and over because they usually work. We tend to repeat the things that have worked for us to hear in the past. But, for me anyway, virtual hugs only go so far. Sometimes I find myself tweeting “Big hugs” and I feel like those words aren’t good enough, that more powerful words are needed. Sometimes we need to pull out the big guns.
With that in mind, I reached out on Facebook to the #ppdchat Army and other women who have had anxiety with this question:
What do YOU want to hear when you’re in the middle of an anxiety attack?
The following awesome responses may be helpful to you when you’re trying to find those big guns:
- This is temporary. Say over and over “I can do this. It’s just a moment.”
- For me, in the moment of a panic attack/anxiety attack, I need someone to assure me that it WILL end. They can’t last forever, and most panic attacks are only at a high for a short amount of time. I need to be reminded that I won’t stop breathing, that my body does know what to do and I will not just die.
- My husband always reminds me that if it gets really bad I can always take an anti-anxiety med. I don’t take them often so I tend to forget its an option and I always feel better knowing it’s there if I really need it. Also just having someone to talk to, text or tweet or whatever helps to distract me. I think we have a tendency to not always reach out in the midst of an attack, but it really does help.
- The best thing someone can say to me when I am in the midst of anxiety is that my fears and worries are valid. That they are understandable. Then after that, I love to hear that they are there for me no matter what happens with whatever I am having anxiety about. That they will come in and help.
- Last night my husband put his hand on my shoulder and said, “I hear you.”. It was exactly what I needed.
- I need to be reminded to take deep breaths. When I am in the midst of an anxiety attack, my breathing gets so shallow. I cannot even articulate how I am feeling. By reminding myself to breathe, I can start to reach out and ask for help.
There you have it. Next time you’re at a loss for words to comfort or help your friend having an anxiety attack, try reminding her to breathe, or that you’re there for her no matter what. And don’t forget to suggest or try some of the tips offered here.
What have YOU found to be helpful to say or hear when you’re fighting off those anxious demons?