I've found some interesting links over the past few days, dealing with panic attacks and
First, quoting our friends at Wikipedia, specifically the article on panic attacks:
Many people overcome Panic Disorder and sudden Panic Attacks on their own. It takes time, but in a sense, they ride out the panic attacks and eventually learn that nothing is going to happen during one. Often, they 'taper off' until they are not noticeable any longer. It is for this reason that some psychologists helping people with panic disorders induce them into an attack, so they can see for themselves that indeed, nothing will happen.
So... it would seem that I've gone about this in the wrong way. Although, I had no idea that what I typically experience on amusement park rides is a textbook panic attack, so I had no idea to seek treatment for that.
My solution... well, originally I just avoided amusement parks altogether, or wandered around the grounds and basically put a crimp in the enjoyment of the day for friends I'd gone with. I met an internet friend recently who is an absolute coaster fanatic, and she speaks often and with a kind of authority on coasters. I knew from day one if I was ever to meet her in person it would be at an amusement park (for that and other reasons as well). So I talked to her a few times about my fears and we developed a kind of game plan for attacking things gradually.
This past weekend I met her at Cedar Point. We did the gradual thing. I did a lot better than I expected, but a lot worse than I wanted to. I didn't bite people or dig my nails into their arms, as I have actually been known to do in the past (yay!). Basically, I think, I went on rides that most 9 or 10 year olds can take with no problem (provided they are tall enough).
I was reading up on phobias after I came home and I discovered the above-linked Wikipedia article. Well, what I experienced on Gemini (yes, I made it to that kind of ride, go me!) was exactly a panic attack. Good. Now we know I should concentrate on panic attacks.
Apparently, the typical psychological treatment for specific phobias, called systematic desensitization, can be self-administered. I'm not sure how effective it is without the aid of a psychologist, but I hate shrinks, so I may just give it a try.
A link: Self-administration of systematic desensitization
I've got a couple of ideas for the "Creating the Anxiety Heirarchy" list.
I haven't rated them yet, because I plan to supplement them with other ideas from the community when more people join. Also my anxiety levels for these things may be different than someone else's. The numbers are just the typical order I think they'd be executed in.
1. Driving to the amusement park.
2. Standing on line to buy a ticket.
3. Walking around the park, hearing the sounds of people whizzing by on roller coasters, and seeing them go by.
4. Standing on line for a fairly tame ride which you are actually terrified about, and hearing people talk about how lame the ride is.
5. Hearing your friends on the same line talk about how lame the ride is (yes, this has happened to me, but fortunately not this past weekend).
6. Getting into the ride car.
7. Putting the safety restraints/seat belts in place.
8. The ride begins to move and you no longer have control over where you are going, or how fast.
9. Climbing up the hill, realizing what is to come.
10. Seeing the first big drop, knowing that you are about to hurtle down it at a speed that is too fast to stop safely should an emergency occur.
11. Going down the drop and feeling your guts rise up to your throat, knowing you can't stop, and seeing the ground rush up to meet you. (okay, I'm starting to get anxious typing that).
okay, I have to stop here and take a breath because I'm starting to actually FEEL those things.
I need to stop here. I have a larger list in my head but judging by how I'm feeling right now, I'm only going to mention the next three:
12. Standing on line for a less tame ride.
13. Hearing other people on the ride line talk about the ride, drops, and speed.
14. Hearing your friends on the ride line talk about the ride, how there's an X foot drop, and goes Y miles an hour, and how 30 years ago when the ride opened it was the tallest and fastest (yes, this actually happened to me last weekend. It wasn't a pleasant experience.)
15. Getting up to the ride car and hearing the ride announcer talk excitedly about how far you're going to drop and how fast you are going to go (I think this was the point at which I actually started to have my panic attack).
You get the idea. Does anyone have any more suggestions, either for that list, or for other methods of treatment?