The list is a comprehensive guide for anyone finding it difficult to understand a loved one's struggle with mental illness.
Although mental health is a fundamental component of human health, our society still lacks recognition of the various kinds of mental disorders and awareness about the crucial role it plays in our day to day lives. "It's all in your head," is the response many receive when they open up about their mental health troubles to those around them, and this stigma and ignorance often have dire implications upon their lives. Luckily, Kelsey Darragh's boyfriend is not one to dismiss her struggle with mental illness. Rather, he expressed interest in wanting to understand her panic and anxiety disorder and how he could help her when she's in the throes of an attack.
Upon his request, Darragh prepared a list of things for him to keep in mind when she's having a panic or anxiety attack. The list — which describes in detail what she's going through during an episode — is a comprehensive guide for anyone finding it difficult to understand a loved one's struggle with mental illness. Aware of how helpful it could prove for her 117k followers on Twitter, the social media star shared the list on the platform writing: "I have panic & anxiety disorder. My boyfriend does not... but [he] wants to understand it so he can help me. So I made him this list! Feel free to share [with] your loved ones that need guidance!"
I have panic & anxiety disorder. My boyfriend does not... but wants to understand it so he can help me. SO I made him this list! Feel free to share w ur loved ones that need guidance! pic.twitter.com/k8pcCfzMcj— DONT F*CKING PANIC preorder now! 📖🧠✨💚 (@kelseydarragh) May 11, 2018
1. Know that I am scared and won’t be able to explain why, so please don’t freak out or be annoyed with me.
2. Find my meds if they’re nearby and make sure I take it.
3. Breathing exercises are going to frustrate me but they are vital. Try and get me to sync my breathing with yours.
4. Make gentle suggestions of things we could do together to distract my panic. (Don’t tell me what I need/should do—and listen when I say no to something).
5. For dissociative panic = remind me that this has happened before and this too shall pass! It always does, but it’s scary AF when it’s happening, so maybe tell me some fun facts about me or our life together that will make me smile or laugh.
6. Sips of water can be helpful but don’t tell me I need to eat or drink because, trust me, I feel like I’m going to vomit.
7. Keep breathing with me!
8. If we can leave where we are – take me home!
9. Please be really really nice to me. I’m not feeling like myself and I’m embarrassed. Feeling guilty already for putting you through this so please don’t get frustrated with me.
10. Sometimes a really big, loose, long hug will make me feel safe.
11. Helping me breathe will be hard but so key!
12. If it’s really bad – call my mum or sister or BFF on the phone for me!
13. Tell me not to fight it – rather, let it pass through me. The more I try to control it [or for you to try and control it] the worse it will be.
14. Empathize with me! You may not get it, but you get me!
15. Once it passes (like hours later), open up a dialogue with me about it. How’d you do? What can we do next time?
Darragh's list resonated deeply with many of her Twitter followers who either experience panic attacks themselves or know a loved one who struggles with it. "This is really awesome, whenever I have panic attacks, I usually spend most of it telling my loved ones to 'f**k off, you're making it worse.' I can see how this approach is a little more constructive," tweeted @BlazeMcStorm. "Thanks so much for putting this on paper! I immediately send this to my [boyfriend] so maybe he can start understanding more and help me better because he has struggled with not knowing what to do too and it is so difficult to explain... So thank you," wrote Twitter user @TinyxxEve.