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Old 02-14-2013, 01:01 PM   #1
bxccah
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Mental Illness at Disney...?

Hi all. I'm new to the forum and my first trip to Disney World is in exactly a week!

I'm 18 and I'm suffering from mental health issues like severe social anxiety, self harm and panic attacks. I'm determined not to let social anxiety get in the way of my enjoyment. But I do tend to be prone to panic attacks and queues don't *normally* trigger me unless there is something overly stressful. In these situations, would I be wise to alert a CM that I may need to leave a queue/ride loading area promptly and without being around too many people?

I know anxiety doesn't seem like a big deal, but for me, it feels like all the physical symptoms of choking, a heart attack and feeling sick and faint all at once- it's awful and I'm worried i will have an attack!

Also, my arms are scarred from self harm. I'm actually not bothered by it- I've had the scars since I was 11 and I'm used to people staring at getting nasty comments. I'm just aware of how there will be a lot of children and I don't want any patents to think its wrong of me to wear a tee shirt exposing scars. (Faded, healed scars-no fresh cuts at all, haven't cut in over 4 months)

If you're a parent, how would it make you feel if you were around an overweight teen with scarred arms? I'm going with my 3 year old niece and she's never even asked, but she's grown up knowing auntie Becca has days where she is poorly and has to go to the hospital.

Sorry for the long post!
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Old 02-14-2013, 02:13 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bxccah
Hi all. I'm new to the forum and my first trip to Disney World is in exactly a week!

I'm 18 and I'm suffering from mental health issues like severe social anxiety, self harm and panic attacks. I'm determined not to let social anxiety get in the way of my enjoyment. But I do tend to be prone to panic attacks and queues don't *normally* trigger me unless there is something overly stressful. In these situations, would I be wise to alert a CM that I may need to leave a queue/ride loading area promptly and without being around too many people?

I know anxiety doesn't seem like a big deal, but for me, it feels like all the physical symptoms of choking, a heart attack and feeling sick and faint all at once- it's awful and I'm worried i will have an attack!

Also, my arms are scarred from self harm. I'm actually not bothered by it- I've had the scars since I was 11 and I'm used to people staring at getting nasty comments. I'm just aware of how there will be a lot of children and I don't want any patents to think its wrong of me to wear a tee shirt exposing scars. (Faded, healed scars-no fresh cuts at all, haven't cut in over 4 months)

If you're a parent, how would it make you feel if you were around an overweight teen with scarred arms? I'm going with my 3 year old niece and she's never even asked, but she's grown up knowing auntie Becca has days where she is poorly and has to go to the hospital.

Sorry for the long post!
Welcome to the disabilities forum we are here to help you at any time you need.


I would go have fun and not worry what other people think you are their for you to have fun. I know that easier said then done but don't let them get to you if they do they win don't let that happen. If you enjoy your trip with your niece and family and have fun then you win you hold the power.

If you need to leave alert a cm if you can sometimes in the que their no cm but if you get to the ride and want to exit let the cm know they can't make you ride anything you don't want to. You could also go to guest relations and get a gac but I would also use fast pass as much as you can.


If you need medical help please alert the nearest cm they can get you help not saying you will need it but just in case.
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Old 02-14-2013, 02:26 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bxccah View Post
If you're a parent, how would it make you feel if you were around an overweight teen with scarred arms?
I would think there was a girl at Disney wanting to have fun like everyone else
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Old 02-14-2013, 05:57 PM   #4
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I pobably wouldn't even notice you and I'll bet most people won't either. I hope you are getting professional help. Have a good trip!
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Old 02-14-2013, 06:01 PM   #5
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Thanks, everyone! Definitely more reassured. In the past I've had mothers tell me that I'm sick, shouldn't be allowed out in public etc which I thought was a bit OTT!
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Old 02-14-2013, 06:43 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by bxccah View Post
Thanks, everyone! Definitely more reassured. In the past I've had mothers tell me that I'm sick, shouldn't be allowed out in public etc which I thought was a bit OTT!
Well, they sound like the sick ones. You go and have fun!
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Old 02-14-2013, 06:51 PM   #7
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I have the same issues with social anxiety and panic attacks. I usually don't have trouble at Disney, despite how crowded it can get. Whenever I do feel smothered in and an attack coming on, I find an empty corner of the park or go to a bathroom and sit in the largest stall available for 5 minutes or so. When waiting in lines, I tend to find pockets of open space and stand far back in it, away from as many people as possible. I make sure to take some time between rides and shows to find open spaces to rest in. I would also take a break every day from around 1 or 2 in the afternoon until 5 in the evening. I'd go back to the room and rest and recharge, or if the pool was empty and quiet I'd go swimming for a bit. My strategy at any theme park I go to is ride something, make sure I have plenty of pockets of air and space in line, and then I take a break in between every attraction.

If you do have an attack in line of a ride or as you're getting on a ride, just alert a CM and let them know. I've done so once and they actually helped me get outside, and then helped me reclaim my spot in line or gave me a fastpass to come back an hour or two later. Sometimes CMs allow me to wait in alternate waiting areas until it is determined it's my time to ride. Sometimes this wait is much longer than waiting in a regular line though.

Depending on the places you eat, table service shouldn't be an issue most of the time. Quick service places can be REALLY trying with my anxiety and panic attacks if we ever eat during regular meal times (about 11:30/Noon-2pm for lunch and about 5 to 7pm for dinner). People become very pushy and grumpy waiting in long lines and some people can get downright rude to others, and it can get messy fast. CMs that work quick service places usually are at a register or making the food and can't really assist guests that are in line so it's hard to say if a CM can help you here. Whenever we have to eat at busy times, I wait outside the restaurant in a space I can get air and have space and my mom and sister go through the line and get food for all of us, and then they call me when they have a table and I go in to join them. We try to eat during the non peak meal times, but sometimes our bellies disagree with that plan and we have to deal with it.

As a warning, the Mission Space attraction in Epcot closes in VERY close around you and you're usually shoved in the ride car with 3 other people. I've had a panic attack both times I've tried riding. Waiting for Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios is always a horrible experience for me. The line gets very big and long, and when they let people in to sit down it is very much like a cattle herd and it has never not set off my anxiety into a panic attack. CMs are very organized but have always kept herding me in with the crowd as I approached them in a panic asking them to get me out of line. My mom had to call out for a medic because a CM wasn't listening and yelled at us to keep going. SO! Because of that... we always wait until after everyone else has seated to head toward the stadium and get a seat. We sit at the back of the stadium and it is perfect for me.

I hope you go and have a wonderful time. Disney is one of the few places I just go and have fun, and any issues I might have are (usually) easily taken care of.
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Old 02-14-2013, 07:45 PM   #8
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I find that kids are non-judgmental. I'm a mom and a first grade teacher of students with special needs.

Grown-ups might look at you but I doubt they'd tell their kids anything.

Don't worry what others will think. I do hope you're taking medication and/or receiving therapy for your disorders. This is much too difficult to overcome alone. I'm with the person who said to avoid Mission Space. I get claustrophobic and motion sickness and I I went on the non motion side and still got sick.

I'm proud of you for not cutting in over 4 months.
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Old 02-14-2013, 08:07 PM   #9
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Panic attacks ARE serious and terrifying. You should not feel bad if you need to request to leave the line etc. I'm sure you will have a great time!
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Old 02-14-2013, 08:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kellykins1218

Well, they sound like the sick ones. You go and have fun!
I agree. OP, go & have a great trip. Anyone who notices, stares or comments are the sick ones. Seriously, who does this? You deserve to have a great vacation! You have had 4 months of successes. Congrats to you! I hope you have a magical time with your niece & family!
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Old 02-14-2013, 09:15 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bxccah
Thanks, everyone! Definitely more reassured. In the past I've had mothers tell me that I'm sick, shouldn't be allowed out in public etc which I thought was a bit OTT!
First, the people lacking love, understanding and compassion need to keep their judgements to themselves. These people are not worth worrying about- don't waste your time with what they think! You have better things to waste your time with.... Like having fun in Disney!!

Also, as a parent I agree with the PP, I would think that your are there to have fun and relax, just like my family. So I have issues with anxiety and my best advice is take it easy and not to push it. I have always found places to take breathers. Also, planning breaks away from the park might be helpful as well.

Good luck, have fun and I hope you can work through what you need to. Keep trying!
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Old 02-15-2013, 12:30 AM   #12
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My wife has panic attacks not many anymore but years ago she had them all the time. The first few years we went to Disney she would sit out rides that looked like the lines were too much for her. One day she decided to try a long line it was on Thunder Mountain she loved it we kept space for her in line and it worked it was also her first roller coaster. Now she goes on all the rides and almost never has panic attacks in Disney. Go and have fun
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Old 02-15-2013, 04:55 AM   #13
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I do not think your needs as far as crowds and lines are all that different that the multitude of individuals who are Aspergers, except that you may have more acute theory of mind skills so may pick up more easily than ASD individuals, that people around you may be noticing differences. So first do not worry about what other uninformed people think. Read some of the ASD threads to get an idea of the accommodations that are available.
Do not push, and if you get tired or overwhelmed take a break, there are also treads where people discuss places to get away from the crowds while at the parks.
Enjoy yourself and do not underestimate the magic of WDW especially the fun of watching a 3 year old get immersed in a magical world
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Old 02-15-2013, 06:06 AM   #14
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bxccah, are you going with other family members, or just your 3 yr old niece? If you have other people with you, they can make a safe 'bubble' around you in queues. As a PP stated, they can make some space around you. Bring some calming music to listen to if you like, as sometimes the queue music can get intense. Some queues have really nice, calming sounds though.

Use FP as often as you can. Get to the parks early to beat the crowds, and leave when it starts to get crowded. If you are using the WDW bus transportation, try to use it in 'off' times. Don't get in the bus line when the parks close - that's when the lines get the longest, and the waits are insane.

Plan to stay hydrated, and eat small and often. Plan to eat in off times too, to avoid crowded dining areas.

WDW is a melting pot of people from all over the world. You will not stand out in a bad way, so please do not worry.
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Old 02-15-2013, 01:35 PM   #15
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I have many of the same issues and I'm always surprised about how possible disney is. I agree with pp's if you have other adults with you they can be your buffer in lines.

Also, make sure to stay hydrated and don't forget to eat, my DH and I have learned that all of my issues are exacerbated if I do not meet my physical needs.
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