Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How To Stop A Panic Attack in Two Minutes

A few weeks ago, I found myself on vacation in a situation that caused such panic I thought we would have to end our vacation just after it had begun. My husband, son, and I went to GenCon (yes, a gaming convention, we are quite geeky) and while I have been at many conventions for all sorts of things before, this one was really crowded and the convention center was so convoluted that you were often in places that had no exit to the outside near you. As some of you know, I panic when I do not know I can easily get out of a room or situation. Thus, large buildings with few exits like conventions centers, indoor malls, movie theaters, and hospitals scare me to death.

As soon as we walked into the convention center, I was a wreck. I got overheated and sweaty, I was breathing fast, I was shaking, and I felt sick. I was having a terrible panic attack. No matter what I did- deep breathing, repeating to myself that I was safe, talking to my family to distract me- nothing stopped the panic and I did not have my Ativan with me. I went into the convention center and saw a corsetiere booth and knew I could stop my panic attack in two minutes.

At another convention I had bought a corset as a costume piece and while wearing it I noticed I was calm and did not feel my usual constant anxiety or have panic attacks.

As soon as the corset was laced up, I calmed down. My husband and son were surprised at my almost instant turn around. We were able to continue our vacation and I had no more panic that weekend, all because of the corset.
Copyright: J. Norris

It is not surprising to me that a corset can calm panic, since deep touch pressure has been used for many years with animals (such as the Thundershirt), and now for people with autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Deep touch pressure became more popular and widely studied by Dr. Temple Grandin after she discovered that she was calmed after putting herself into a squeeze chute made for cows.

The corset is not that different than the weighted clothing they make for autistic children. The nice thing about the corset is that you can adjust the amount of pressure throughout the day. There are also different lengths of corsets.  You can get some that are smaller which cover mostly just your waist (waist cincher or short underbust corset), or one that goes farther up your back and chest (overbust corset), depending on how much pressure you need over your body. When I am really manic in the evenings sometimes I will put on my obverbust corset, which covers my whole torso. They do make corsets for men as well and you can get a corset made to your exact measurements and body shape, such as an asymmetrical corsets if you have one hip higher than the other. You can wear corsets under your clothes, but I find it more uncomfortable and a bit hard to handle because you can not adjust the pressure of the corset if it is under your clothes, especially a dress.

Corset under clothes. Copyright: J. Norris
I will write more posts in the future about with details about corset wearing, but in the mean time, Lucy's Corsetry will tell you everything you need to know about getting a good corset and how to properly wear one.

For me, wearing a corset is a quick and safe fix for panic and mania. I can wear it all day, it's adjustable, and it does not cause addiction like anti-anxiety medications such as Ativan do. I would like to use Ativan all day due to how much anxiety I have, but I can't because it is an addictive substance. However, I can use the corset all the time and it is totally safe. (Read about corset safety here.)


Rev. Katie

P.S.: The corset I am wearing in these photos is the short underbust corset from Timeless Trends.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Stigma Alert: NBC Nightly News: Ariel Castro, "The Face of Mental Illness."

If you live in Cleveland, Ohio like I do, you know the story of kidnapper Ariel Castro who held three women captive in his home for 11 years. It is a tragic story that has effected our community greatly. I would never justify what he did, and I will not argue that he does not have some form of mental illness. It is possible that he does. However, I do not agree with NBC reporter Brian Williams (or whoever his text writer is) saying that Ariel Castro is "the face of mental illness."

Again, this is just the media promoting stigma against people with mental illness. We can not say that the few people with mental illness who are violent represent mental illness as a whole. In previous posts I have written about the facts of violence and mental illness, namely incidents of violent crimes are low in people with mental illness and we are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. 

I don't understand why the news media can not report these stories without throwing everyone with mental illness under a bus. If he has been diagnosed with a mental illness and part of his illness led to criminal activity, you can report that. You do not speculate as to possible mental illness and you do not generalize that mental illness means a person is violent.

Is it any wonder that people with mental illness have to hide who they are even to the point of not seeking treatment? Everyone is afraid of us because of media hype like this and that means we are at serious risk for physical and emotional violence against us if we ever speak up. 

Ariel Castro is not "the face of mental illness." He is the face of his possible illness and his crimes.

The real faces of mental illness are the faces of many amazing people who contribute beautiful things to this world. 

Want to do something about this now? SIGN THIS PETITION to NBC asking for an apology.


Rev. Katie

P.S. For another blog post on this subject, visit Pete Earley's blog where he shows how Brian Williams violated the Style Book of the Associated Press which states how reporters should talk about mental illness.