jetted off to Thailand with a friend. He was supposed to be travelling around Thailand and Laos for three months. Yes, three months. Then, approximately two days after his arrival he posted in my family’s closed Facebook group that he wanted to come home.
Before he left he’d suffered panic attacks, which I’d talked him through and explained how best to try and overcome them. I suffer from them too. So I wasn’t surprised when I got the message. I talked to him on Skype about it, trying to persuade him to stay out there. But he was having none of it. So I sent a tweet out asking for help. And my lovely friend @AboutLondon retweeted it, and put me in touch with @andrewspooner who, I later discovered is the author of the Footprint guide to Thailand (click the image to go through to the Amazon page)…
Andrew proceeded to email my brother advice, copying me in all the time. He sent links to good hotels he knew of, forwarded the phone number of a safe and trustworthy taxi driver who knew some English and generally offered consolation. And he spoke to me in direct messages all week as I rushed between the @FlightCentre_UK (who were very helpful) and tweeted other people and listened to the West Side Story soundtrack on the Jet Airways of India customer care line.
In the end, I changed his flights and he returned. Which I think is a shame. But I know that it can be scary having a panic attack when away from home. My advice would always be to go and get some Bach’s Rescue Remedy, some camomile tea* and repeat in your head ‘I will not give into this, I will not give into this,’ while taking deep breaths. Because at the end of the day panic attacks come from your mind, and you can either let them take over or will them to go away. But it’s a process that can take some years.
My brother is now planning to go somewhere else, on an organised tour. I hope he’s able to overcome the attacks. And at least he knows there is a whole community of friendly, helpful people online who can send advice straight away if he ever gets into a pickle.
Thank you to Andrew and Laura, as well as everyone else who wished my brother well.
*For those of you who might be eager to jump on the homeopathy doesn’t work bandwagon, yes you’re right, and yes science is wonderful, but seeing as this is a psychological complaint to begin with, a little placebo never hurt anyone.