Archives for Support Groups
"But you don't look sick." Yeah. I've heard that one before. Have you? There's migraine. Fibromyalgia. Lupus. The pain and autoimmune problems aren't immediately visible. Within the mental health spectrum, there's panic disorder. There's depression. There's bipolar disorder, PTSD, and OCD. It's not easy for others to visually see our suffering. But just because an illness isn't showing doesn't mean it's not legitimate! THIS STUFF IS FOR REAL When I have a bad migraine, the only overt evidence of my suffering is the pair of sunglasses I'm probably wearing indoors. Also, I tend to walk very lightly on my tiptoes in a futile attempt to suppress the gnawing, throbbing, and stabbing pain on the right side of my skull. But a big pair of sunglasses coupled with a delicate walk? I look more like some cross between a drunk ballerina and a celebrity-in-hiding. I don't look like I'm suffering. It's the same thing with panic: if I have an attack in the middle of the grocery store, there's no good visual indicator that I'm suffering. Sure, I'll probably abandon my cart and walk quickly toward the exit -- but how does that make me different than any other woman who has forgotten her wallet in the car?
Grad school was a rough time for me. Not only were my classes pretty demanding, but I also had a part-time assistantship supervising five undergraduate RA's (Resident Assistants). Then, of course, I was withdrawing from Paxil (it took 7 or 8 months!), struggling with the withdrawal side effects, and struggling with all of my other usual anxieties. So, when I saw a flyer for an on-campus stress management course, I signed right up. We met weekly and did tons of little activities with the university's Counseling Services staff. We examined our cognitive distortions. We laid on the floor and practiced progressive muscle relaxation to soft music. We had roundtable discussions about what causes most of our stress. And we ate raisins. Well, let me take that back: we ate one raisin.
Once again this month, DC-based panic attack sufferer Grace is holding her monthly anxiety, panic, and phobia support group phone call. The call will take place at 6 p.m. EDST this evening (Sunday, March 11th) and all anxiety and panic sufferers are invited to call in. (Don't forget about the time change -- did you remember to "spring ahead"?) There is no charge for attending the conference call — but keep in mind that the phone number uses a California area code and not a toll-free number, so your normal charges for calling California’s 559 area code will apply. Here’s the phone number and access code:
It's time for the monthly panic, anxiety, and phobia support group phone call. Led by Grace, a longtime panic sufferer living in the DC area, the call is open to anyone...
This evening, long-time panic attack sufferer Grace is holding her monthly anxiety, panic, and phobia support group phone call. (You may remember me posting about this before when I was invited to speak on the call.) The call will take place at 6 p.m. EST this evening (Sunday, January 8th) and all anxiety and panic sufferers are invited to call in. There is no charge for attending the conference call -- but keep in mind that the phone number uses a California area code and not a toll-free number, so your normal charges for calling California's 559 area code will apply. Here's the phone number and access code:
Last week, I delivered a telephone presentation to a nationwide anxiety & panic support group. I shared my personal story, I led the callers in this activity about cognitive distortion, and I facilitated a mindfulness meditation exercise. You'd think I'd be anxious about it, right? Little ol' panicky me? The girl who freezes up and starts hyperventilating when I get stuck in a long line? The girl who carries every stomach medicine known to man in her purse on the off-chance that she'll feel queasy while running errands? The girl who grew up as a die-hard perfectionist? Nah. I was perfectly fine. I was calm, I was expressive, and I was loving every second of it. Why was it so easy? Well, here's my primary theory: when I'm in the company of others who truly understand the difficulty of grocery shopping or highway driving, I feel at ease.
They say a problem shared is a problem halved. I think the same goes for anxiety. Anxiety shared is anxiety halved. (Well, if you're sharing with the right people -- people who can empathize, that is!) On Sunday, I'll be the guest speaker on a conference call for the Anxiety, Panic and Phobia Support Group. It's a nationwide, telephone-based peer support group for those of us who deal with anxiety & related problems. Anyone is welcome to join in on the call. The group is led by Grace, a long-time anxiety & panic sufferer. "I know of and have been participating in telephone conference calls for other issues and decided to create one for anxiety, panic and phobia disorders," she said. Prior to starting the group, she felt like she was alone in her struggles. "I really wanted to help myself and others that are also suffering," said Grace. Since beginning the group, phone attendance at the telephone-based meetings has continued to increase month after month. On Sunday, I'll be discussing my own experiences with panic disorder. I'll also be leading the group in a few activities designed to help us tame runaway thoughts.