Overcoming Panic Attacks

As my wife and I have traveled on the road together for her healing from dissociative identity disorder, panic attacks were something we had to contend with initially. Panic attacks seem to be the ubiquitous bane of those with DID: the irrational fear that seeks to consume and debilitate.

Recently I came across the following article: http://www.healthyplace.com/anxiety-panic/panic-disorder/panic-attack-causes-what-causes-panic-attacks/. This article started out by stating that although they don’t know what causes the attacks, they were looking at things like stress, trauma events, excessive stimulant intake, illness and abrupt changes in environment.

I realize that I only have experience with my girls, but their panic attacks seem trauma based. Their panic attacks emanated from the link their mind connected between a past trauma and a current event for a specific girl within the network.

What did that mean for us? In the beginning of our journey, panic attacks seemed to arise for “no reason.” Sure we could recognize the triggers, but why did the trigger trigger a panic attack? Then I realized that if the girl who was fronting didn’t understand why she was getting panicky, I simply had to find the one inside that was“bleeding thru.”  That removed the aspect of irrationality from these attacks. Then it became a fairly easy matter to stop the panic attacks.

In other words, panic attacks are only irrational to the girl who is fronting but isn’t really having the attack. She is being carried along with the emotions of the one who is actually having the panic attack from the inside. Once I found the actual girl in the network who was panicking, I just had to calm her down like I would any scared child: take her in my arms or lap, stroke her hair and face, speak comforting words to her, pull her back to the present, reassure her that she’s safe now and not alone anymore.

In my original article on dealing with panic attacks (https://samruck2.wordpress.com/2010/07/06/helping-during-a-panic-attack/), I dealt mostly with helping the immediate attack. But panic attacks for us are nearly a thing of the past and as I reflect why, I think this is the reason: Karen and I put a premium on giving the little girls the maximum outside time that we could. As we did, they simply grew up. Childhood is all about learning to overcome our fears and limitations, but when a child experiences extreme trauma, enough to cause d.i.d., that natural, overcoming spirit is arrested. But as we have brought the girls back out to begin experiencing the many things they missed during their original childhood in a safe environment, that natural, overcoming spirit was reborn. And in the last 4 ½ years the little girls have been a part of my life, many of the things they once feared enough  to cause panic not only have been overcome but now they are loved.

Panic attacks are barely a part of my girls’ life anymore. I can’t speak for other people, but I believe my girls rarely have them for two reasons. First I learned to find the girl actually having the attack so I could give her comfort and pull her out of the attack quickly. And secondly we gave the girls a chance to revive their overcoming spirit and leave their fears behind.


Sam, I Am

(edit: 12/11/12 Sorry I gave the wrong link about the causes of panic attacks on healthyplace.com. It is now corrected)


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. SynthGirl
    Dec 20, 2012 @ 20:16:34

    Oh thank you, thank you for this blog! And I love how you say “my girls” because that’s what my Mate calls me! This particular post was very helpful, but just knowing there is another COUPLE out there going through what we go through daily… that is heartening on its own!

    May I ask… did all the girls have names already… did you help name any of them? Most of mine don’t really have names… didn’t expect to live long enough… and sometimes the littlest ones use different names each time they’re out, which gets quite confusing, even for me!

    Please feel free to visit my blog — and send your girls by to say hi, too! I’ve just started and have only gotten a couple visitors so far…

    — SynthGirl


    • Sam Ruck
      Dec 22, 2012 @ 21:51:34

      Hi SynthGirl,

      sorry I didn’t reply sooner. We’re on vacation and for some reason my blog stuck your comment in my spam.

      All the girls had real names but that doesn’t mean they necessarily shared them with me. One girl (Amy) I gave a name at the very beginning, (not understanding how things worked) and by the time I realized my mistake, she loved her new name so much that she didn’t want to go back to her original name. And Alleylieu is not her original name either, but she refused to give me her name in the beginning, and I refused to call her “hey you” so I gave her a temporary name, but as she and I got connected more, she wanted a new name that she liked better and that’s how we ended up with Alleyieu.

      Somewhere at the beginning of my blog I wrote about why I feel it’s so important for all the insiders to have real names rather than a lot of the non-human names I see on other people’s blogs. I would never say those who do that are “wrong” but I have very specific reasons for why I do what I do and as we are nearing the end of this journey (I believe) it would seem my reasons have been borne out as correct. I’ll try to find you the link…

      I’m so glad you found my blog. It is encouraging to find other couples going thru this together. I’ll try to swing by your blog sometime. I glanced at it quickly but my internet availability is limited on vacation.



  2. annette
    Jan 01, 2013 @ 23:53:45

    I have DID. Thank you for writing this blog and showing us how someone outside of DID could love someone inside of it.


  3. Stop Panic Attacks
    Jan 09, 2013 @ 04:28:22

    Saved as a favorite, I really like your web site!


  4. K
    Nov 30, 2015 @ 14:40:20

    I just wanted to thank you for sharing you experiences and what works for you and your girls. panic attacks in my world are not frequent but damaging none the less. My husband ” my hero” will comfort and listen for hours until the storm has passed. So I am very happy that you have shared. I stumbled on your blog and really feel so comforted that someone really does understand the complexity and passion it takes to heal. Our journey has been for 2 years and even though some days are rough… I know I am not alone. And I love who I am.



    • Sam Ruck
      Nov 30, 2015 @ 14:44:18

      Welcome to my blog, K, and thank you for taking the time to comment. I am glad your husband takes an active part in the healing journey. I think it makes ALL the differences when both partners walk the road to heal together because it is a hard road and so the highs and lows are shared instead of pitting each against the other.

      I’m glad you are not alone. I try to hammer that point to my girls everyday, too.



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