August 12, 2014

How can I help?

I had a different post planned for today, but then Robin Williams died, and I felt that I had something more important to share. So please forgive my diversion, and I hope you'll understand.

Everyone says "Ask for help."

I shared my feelings about that yesterday. Here's what I posted on Facebook:

"It's not just about asking for help. Lots of people get help. Maybe their therapist isn't a good fit. Maybe they get tired of trying to find a good therapist. Maybe they go on meds but hate them and stop taking them. Maybe they even try different meds, but don't like the way they feel on the meds. Maybe they start feeling good on the meds and think they don't need them anymore. Maybe everyone around them does the best they can to help, but it's not enough. There's no simple answer."

I wrote a lot of that about myself, but I realized that even THAT isn't "helping." We all need more awareness about mental illness, and many of us live in denial that people around us are suffering. Even if we're not in denial, we don't know what to DO. What constitutes "help?" And how many of us keep this aspect of our lives under cover because we fear people's negative perceptions of us?

So today, I came up with something I can do to help, in my own small way, someone who might be suffering in silence.

I don't know what it's like to experience depression or suicidal ideation, so I am not going to try to talk about that.

But I do know what it feels like to experience extreme panic attacks and anxiety, to go through therapy, to go on meds, hate the meds, go off the meds because I'm feeling good, go on different meds because I'm out of control and totally losing it. No matter what the issue is, many of us go through the same routine trying to find a solution.

I know what it's like to try herbal remedies, supplements, exercise, dumping alcohol, caffeine and sugar - and having none of it work - and then feeling like I'm "not doing it right" because people clearly eradicate anxiety with these methods. Apparently.

I know what it feels like to be completely not in control of my mind and body and be almost completely nonfunctional because of it.

And I know what it's like not to tell anyone because I'm so worried about how people will see me after they "know" about me.

I wrote an e-book on my experience with panic attacks and I usually sell it on my site, but I'm going to make it free from now on. The last update was in 2012 and things have changed even since then, so it's not entirely my whole story. This is how it goes with mental health issues.

But it's one way I can help, by offering it here to those of you who have your own struggles with panic and anxiety, and maybe reading about my experience and my tools and lifestyle changes will help someone.

And please contact me if you ever want to talk.

Download Panic Sucks here.

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4 comments. Please add yours! :

Melanie Kissell said...

Thank you for your generous spirit, Lisa. This is awesome!

My oldest daughter experienced panic attacks for years and I felt completely at a loss to ease her pain. It was one of the most frustrating and anxiety-provoking times in our lives. She went the "meds" route for a while but the side effects were horrific so she stopped the madness of the vicious cycle of feeling bad to begin with and feeling worse on the meds. :( Happy to report "mindfulness therapy" is helping to make a positive difference in her life.

My heart goes out to you and anyone else on this fine planet of ours who's known the horror of panic attacks.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for sharing, Melanie! I'm glad your daughter found something that works for her. My first experience with meds wasn't great - although they worked wonders, the side effects were unpleasant. The next time, though, I found a medication that works great for me. Whatever works, right?

Lisa Ehrlich said...

It is true that those who have not been touched by mental health issues do not know what to DO when they finally realize that person, they think has it all put together or think they are strong, lets down their guard and shows they have an issue. It makes them uncomfortable. It does not take much to give support. It does not take much to make that person feel like they matter, have value and are not alone. All they have to say is, "I honestly do not have experience or knowledge about what you are going through but I can sit besides you and listen while you talk it out and I will try to help where I can." Most of the time I do not want to talk. I don't want to feel alone and I want to fell I am part of something and add value to others. That people actually want me around. Do not wait until their funeral to tell them how they impacted your life or how nice they were. Tell them now while you can. It just might give them hope when they are in dark place.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

So true, Lisa. I think the hardest thing for a person with mental illness is actually letting other people know. It feels so risky, like you'll lose their respect, or they'll be afraid of you "going off the deep end." Both sides have to take the step to make the connection, and it's not easy either way!

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