Movies can be a wonderful way to escape reality for a little while. They can be a great way to learn a bit about different worlds, experiences, and people. Let’s just remember that they’re not live-action medical textbooks. If you’ve seen someone get punched in the jaw over and over in a movie compared to getting popped in the chin just once in real life, you’ll know what I mean. Things get streamlined or embellished or downplayed as needed for the plot. This can cause real-life problems if everyone is taking them too literally.
Twitter user @smthgreatlou wanted to make a point about how films particularly portray panic attacks. They tweeted:
i hate when movies romanticize anxiety/panic attacks. for example, the main character is having a “panic attack“ and she’s sitting on the floor and her crush notices her, touches her hand and looks her in the eyes and she’s suddenly okay. well, let me tell you something
They added in the thread that when they feel their panic attacks coming on, their chest tightens, they start to shake, and by the time it hits, they’re hyperventilating and having serious trouble breathing. Their vision blurs and it’s difficult to focus on anything, even their crush. They sometimes even puke.
“It’s not a romantic kinda ‘save me’ thing,” they explained. “It’s horrible. Many people suffer from them. I hate it.”
focus on anything. like literally. sometimes i even throw up. and no one can help me. it’s not a romantic kinda “save me” thing. it’s horrible. many people suffer from them. i hate it.
— ZAYN POSTED (@smthgreatlou) July 28, 2020
Other people really related to this issue. Not just the panic attacks themselves, but the sense of frustration that what a panic attack looks like is romanticized for a plot device. These scenes are giving people the wrong idea about what to do when someone is having a panic attack in front of them:
Yea like what IS THAT??
Or the idea that if someone hugs you, your anxiety melts away and you’re fine. LIKE NO STOP TOUCHING ME YOURE MAKING IT WORSE GO AWAY
— Vee¹ᴰ (@LittleMartian__) July 29, 2020
Many individuals don’t know how to ground people and calm them down either, so it’s highly unlikely and portrays it in a way that kids who have/develop panic attacks may assume that someone will do that for them and it will be enough to stop it, but it won’t
— J (@carryonxj) July 29, 2020
And the only thing which calms me down is listening to music but most of the time it still takes at least an hour to breath normal and stopping to cry. One of my friends can calm me down when I have a attack with hugging me but only she with every other person my
— Feuer_Pokemon🐋⁷ (@PokemonFeuer) July 30, 2020
Feel she wouldn’t because it’s just that bad of a feeling. She’s told me about how it’s somewhat of a blackout for her, but in the times before and after she definitely appreciates the company since it’s such a mentally and emotionally tolling event. (2/)
— Qrow♒ (@keyboardHarpist) July 30, 2020
that said, when i see someone i know going through it i just try and help them control their breathing bc thats smth i know might work, but like just putting a hand on their shoulder and going 👁👄👁 definitelywont help at all
— stephie (@birdbatx) July 29, 2020
I start to hyperventilate, my limbs feel like they become stiff and lock up, so I can’t really move. After that I start cry uncontrollably. It’s one of the worse feelings and they don’t end for awhile. Either during or after I also get really exhausted which makes it worse.
— Djekai Moore (@DjekaiM) July 29, 2020
The reason why they’re detrimental is because they set up some sort of expectations/illusion for people without anxiety. Those people will think “it’s cool I’m here” which can go in 2 directions: the shock when their presence doesn’t work or them telling you to manage it better.
— Molly Milky (@MollyMilkyMom) July 29, 2020
When my friends or boyfriend see me like this, it’s worse because I feel like I’m letting them down. I’m not getting better and it’s the same problem again. They support and reassure but I don’t feel closer to them, I don’t feel cute I don’t feel good. It’s not romantic
— 🌸Andie 🌸 (@AndieStardust) July 30, 2020
Some people tried to share what helps them when they’re having a panic attack that wouldn’t work so well in a 90-minute feature:
YES. I woke someone up out of a dead sleep one time and asked them to tell me a story because I was having a panic attack. I just needed to be able to focus on something other than my own thoughts
— Emily F. Popek (@EmilyPopek) July 29, 2020
also, please please make sure to ask if the person is okay with you touching them! i for example am okay with it but it might worsen the problem for others. also, people might have a song they always listen to, so learn that is if you’re dealing with a close friend
— lakshanyaa (@lakshanyaaa_) July 30, 2020
honestly just let them go through it, give them space or ask if they’re comfortable b you touching them and don’t make like sudden movements and lower your voice/try to talk as calmly as possible
— ZAYN POSTED (@smthgreatlou) July 29, 2020
Find them a safe space away from other people, and talk to them CALMLY. Everyone is different but i find that when my boyfriend starts to distract me and talk to me when i start feeling an anxiety attack, it prevents it from getting out of hand. Youll start to see what works
— Mother of Ducks 🦆 (73%) (@WestCoastGh_st7) July 30, 2020
Other people might not find it helpful at all becuase we all deal with it in different ways and the worst part is people who genuinely want to learn how to help their loved ones but come across this movies and think that there is a general way to help but might make things worse
— Eu¹²⁽⁷⁾🇬🇹 (@EuniceB02) July 29, 2020
If you have a relationship with someone who suffers from panic attacks, the best thing to do is to always ask them what they would like if they have one. You know, when they’re not having one. That kind of plan will make a big difference in the moment when they do need help. We shouldn’t take all our medical advice from movies…or Twitter.
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