Coping the best they can ...
We have heard some very different coping stories. Here are a few
PS. These coping skills were an individual coping skills ...?
- Although some of us curse the day that mobile phones were invented,
Terrianne considered it a blessing. Previous to buying a mobile phone she
was housebound with a specific avoidance to driving in the car. Now, with
her mobile phone on hand she zips from here to there knowing that if the
"what if" ever did happen, help is just a call away.
- Yasmine had been a keen traveller before Panic Disorder seemingly ruined
her life. A few months after she was diagnosed a driving trip to Melbourne
had been organised and she was terrified. Her mind reeled "What if
I stop breathing in the middle of nowhere?" She reassured herself
with the fact that there would be semi-trailers on the road with CB radios
and people with mobile phones. They would be able to contact a helicopter
to evacuate her out of Agoraphobic hell! Three years later, Yasmine is
completely recovered and can travel again on ........ planes, trains and
- It was examination time at the University. Violet had experienced her
first panic attack a month earlier and had since been having severe attacks
on almost a daily basis. She was required to sit for an important university
exam. Her terror of having a panic attack was so intense it had translated
itself into extreme physical agitation and an inability to remain in one
spot for long. A three hour sit down exam therefore presented a little
bit of a problem. On the day of the exam, Violet came up with an ingenious
solution. She went to the university medical centre and told the doctor
that due to a sporting accident, she was having severe back and neck pain.
This pain, she told him, was exacerbated by remaining in one position for
long periods of time. Not only did the doctor provide her with a certificate
to the effect she needed to stand up and walk around at regular intervals
during the examination, but the examiners themselves allowed her to sit
the exam in a private room. Violet could stand, sit and move around at
- This lady had a lot of planning to do before she left home on an errand.
She had to know where the nearest doctor, hospital and veterinary surgery
were. Veterinary surgery.. you ask ... well, she knew that a vet would
be able to resuscitate her if need be.
- Fiona called the telephone support line asking for help because she
was in the middle of having a panic attack. Half way through the support
call she interrupted the person counselling her .. "I have another
call coming through, I'm at work" she explained. When Fiona got back
to the counsellor who was on hold, she revealed she worked part time at
a Crisis telephone line ....
- Strange and quirky .. what about the following. A lady (no names) uses
knitting as a focus during panic attacks. She is so conditioned to her
knitting she now takes her knitting with her everywhere. The other day
a friend invited the lady to her hens night out - to a male revue (we all
know what that is .. wink wink nudge nudge, say no more). This lady spent
the whole night sitting in the front row, her knitting sitting politely
on her lap .....
- A lady related the story of when she had Panic Disorder many years
ago. At this time her Agoraphobia was very severe. Basically she was housebound.
She said the only thing that kept her going in those years was her addiction
to ... the Australian TV soap Prisoner. Very symbolic don't you think.
Vonnie worked in the local hospital as a caterer. Her job was to deliver
the meals for the patients. All the meals were stacked on a large steel
trolley which could be wheeled without much effort. Fairly simple .. not
a problem ... unless you've got an Anxiety Disorder. Vonnie had only one
avoidance. She avoided the elevator for fear of having a panic attack there.
Here lies the problem. The kitchen was located in the basement area, the
patients were on floors 2 through to 6. How will she get the meals up to
them? Vonnie explained her "technique". She simply put the trolley
of meals into the elevator, chose the appropriate floor and dashed out
of the elevator before the doors closed. Now all she had to do was charge
up the flight of stairs to the appropriate floor and hope the elevator
was there waiting for her. One time she got into trouble, someone got on
at an intervening floor and the trolley was going up and down like a yo-yo.
She finally caught up to it after much chasing. Yes, Vonnie looks very
much like a marathon runner, fit as a fiddle.
- Seems the nursing profession is one of the hardest hit by Anxiety Disorders.
It is a very demanding job and a high level of professionalism is required.
One nurse described the "hand-over" period as being the worse
for her. Her concentration had been demolished by General Anxiety Disorder.
She is always second guessing herself as to whether she received the instructions
correctly. When she is on the job she is fearful that other nurses will
discover she has an Anxiety Disorder.
- Teresa experienced one of the major fears of an Anxiety Disorder. This
fear created extensive avoidance on her part until finally she didn't go
anywhere. Which of the major fears? The fear that she would have a diarrhoea
attack when she went out - anywhere. This fear is full of shame and embarrassment
.. of what would everyone say. The trouble with this fear for Teresa was
she had never actually had a diarrhoea attack AT ALL - plenty of Panic
Attacks though. It was the "What if" of this major fear which
created the problem. So if Teresa had to go out and do the grocery shopping
she had much planning to do before going. She had to know where all the
toilets were in the facility. She had to know how many individual toilets
there were ... just on the off chance that if she had to rush in there.
The "what ifs" consumed her. What if .. IT happened and I wasn't
near the toilet. What if .. IT happened, I get to the toilets and they
are all being used. What if ... IT happened and I don't get to the toilet
in time (SHAME feelings). In the end Teresa figured she was better off
just not going out at all. And so the avoidance cycle gained more energy
.. and her quality of life is decreased ...
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