How do I stop offending people with my anxiety?
April 13, 2009 12:27 PM Subscribe
I left Easter dinner early due to anxiety. My family is angry. How can I make everyone happy?
posted by giraffe to human relations (38 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
(Extremely limited background: It is well-known in my family that I suffer from depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, my family does not "believe in" anxiety or mood disorders. I've essentially been told to "walk it off" by all of my close relatives.)
I get panic attacks due to anxiety and claustrophobia sometimes. For the second time in as many major family holidays, my sister has invited me to what seemed like a small family affair, and turned out to be a major party with friends, screaming kids and yelling at the TV all in one cramped space. I do want to see my family, but these events are far too stressful for me to manage. On Christmas I was all but dragged out of the basement while having a panic attack so people could sing "Happy Birthday" and shove a cupcake in my face (my birthday was coming up). I left immediately afterward, which, according to my mother, upset more than a couple of people.
Yesterday at Easter I had to leave between dinner and dessert because I started to get that "I'm about to implode or possibly die" feeling. I missed saying goodbye to a couple of people in my desperate attempt to leave the building, and when I spoke to my mother today she reported that my sister felt offended that I'd left and others were angry with me because of "the way [I] acted." The conversation made me feel like the world's biggest asshole. I'd figured telling someone "having a panic attack, will catch up with you later" would be enough of an explanation, but I was incredibly wrong.
I obviously have to apologize to my sister and the other people I snubbed, but I can't come up with a good enough reason for my bad behavior. I know saying, "I was going to have a panic attack" will seem like a weak excuse or like I'm trying to get people to feel bad for me. How do I make this right? How could I have handled this situation better? What should I do about future parties?