You are in a crowded room at a party you don’t really want to be attending. But you decide to try and make the best of it. A few minutes go by and you start to feel a knotting in your stomach then, a pain in your chest. A few more seconds pass and you begin to worry “What is this? Am I dying or losing my mind?” Suddenly it gets harder to breathe, you start to sweat yet your hands feel cold. You are sure something is wrong, you think you are possibly dying or getting very sick. The room seems smaller and the air feels thicker. As this is happening, a friend of yours notices you and walks over to say “Hello.” But these strange feelings are becoming overwhelming. Before your friend approaches you, you make a mad dash for the exit. You might be wondering what all of those confusing and frightening sensations were and the short answer is it was a panic attack. A panic attack is an acute anxious state where your mind and body are behaving as if you are in danger when you actually are not. Having these attacks frequently is a form of anxiety known as panic disorder. Anxiety and panic disorder may seem scary and strange to those who have them and those witnessing them. To understand anxiety, what it feels like and how to manage it, pick up a copy of The Ball of Nerves written by Marc Mazoyer and illustrated by Julie Sheridan.
The Ball of Nerves is an illustrated narrative that simply yet cleverly explains what anxiety and panic disorder feel like and how to manage it. The creators of this book turn the symptoms of anxiety into a living monster in its own right. The separation of the mind of the narrator from “The Ball of Nerves” shows that when anxiety starts to become present in people’s lives, it doesn’t feel like their own brains are controlling these experiences, that there is some other force at work causing their symptoms. This literary tool helps fight the misconception that those who have anxiety or panic attacks are “acting out” for attention or they can easily just “snap out of it.” When it feels like a monster or a strange creature has control over your mind and body it is not so easy to just “get over it.” Many times in the book, “The Ball of Nerves” is shown taking control of various body parts and essentially running the show. Those with anxiety or panic disorder can relate to how the fear of experiencing anxiety or panic attacks in the future can make those anxious symptoms worse and worse to the point that it feels like anxiety is in control of everything. The best part of all, is the hope that this book illustrates. Those with anxiety or panic disorder are not alone in their experience and with the help of therapy and other mindfulness techniques, “The Ball of Nerves” no longer will rule the roost.
The Ball of Nerves can help children, young adults and adults better understand anxiety and is a great tool in opening a supportive and helpful dialogue about anxiety. You can purchase the ebook version or a paperback copy at The Ball of Nerves Store. It can also be found on Apple iBookstore, Nook, Kobo and Amazon.
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