Dr. Oz recently had the well known General Hospital actor Maurice Benard on his show to talk about his experience living with bipolar disorder, and the subject of anxiety came up. Dr. Oz explained that Mr. Benard has difficulty with flying, and Mr. Benard actually filmed his time on the airplane so he could show the audience what he experiences when he flies.
I can relate, as I have difficulty flying. I can handle a short flight, but the thought of being on a plane for much more than an hour makes me anxious and then I start to feel claustrophobic and “trapped”, because I can’t get off.
The interview was heartfelt and relatable and I highly recommend watching it if you have a chance.
At the end of the episode, Dr. Oz shared his method for how to shut down a panic attack, “The Aware Method“, and provides a link for a wallet card print out, encouraging everyone to print it out and share it with family and friends. I know I am going to. What does AWARE mean?
A- Accept the Anxiety (fighting it or getting angry fuels the fire)
W- Wait (take a minute to regain your ability to concentrate and think)
A-Action (work on regulating your breathing again from your belly, or your diaphragm)
R-Repeat (repeat the steps as many times as it takes until the panic attack is stopped)
E-End (remind yourself that panic attacks end; it is a temporary state)
Different strategies work for different people, but I think the Dr. Oz method is worth trying. I know that breathing and trying to focus on breathing is important and I also think that if I keep reminding myself that the panic attack will end, then I won’t feel so helpless during one.
It’s hard to know what to say to someone during a panic attack or during a period of anxiety if you have never experienced anxiety. One website that is really comforting and helpful, both for people who live with mental illness and for people who want to understand what they go through, The Mighty, has really great articles that are great for this purpose. The article “21 Texts To Send People With Anxiety When They Need It The Most” provides examples of reminders that we are not alone and we can get through our tough moments:
- Just wanted to let you know you’re not alone in this.
- I believe in you. You can and will get through this.
- You won’t feel this way forever. I promise.
- You are and will always be enough.
- Take your time to feel OK. The universe will wait for you.
- You are stronger than anything you are afraid of.
- “Someone said, ‘I’ve been here, I know a way out, I’m here to show you too.’ And, ‘It gets better, it may not leave, but it gets better. And it has.” — Tom Everman
- “The best advice: Treat yourself as if you were a good friend.” — Julie Jeatran
- “Celebrate every accomplishment, no matter how small, instead of dwelling on all the things we perceive as failures.” — Jennifer Northrup
- “Your worst days will only be 24 hours.“ — Arielle Smith
- “Your struggles are your accomplishments in disguise.” — Katherine J Palmer
- “Take life 5 minutes at a time.” — Stephanie Lynn
- “I am a human being. Not a human doing. I just have to be.” — Michelle Balck
And one more article I feel is worth sharing, “20 Things People With Mental Illness Needed To Hear At Their Lowest Moments“:
- “You won’t always feel this way.” — Pat Shaw
- “Your feelings are always valid.” — Amanda Schulte
- “Do whatever you need to take care of yourself.” — Brenda Ann
About Melanie Luxenberg
My name is Melanie Luxenberg and I am finally ready to live openly with mental illness. I was first diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder in 2003, which I still experience. At the same time, I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety (which I also still experience), and then briefly experienced Agoraphobia. I have had depression on and off since I was 13 years old. In July 2010 I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder II. Shortly after it was realized that I experienced rapid cycling. I can experience multiple cycles in a week. Despite my diagnosis, I completed a university degree and then a college program. I have always held stable employment, regularly taken my medication and regularly attended my doctor’s appointments. There have been times of hopelessness, but I have always found support from my family, husband and 3 dogs. I am a law clerk, social media/content writer and of course, mental health advocate. My Twitter feed is full of mental health advocacy messages. I hope one day to see the end of stigma towards mental illness, because stigma has to stop!