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Mental Illness at Disney...?

Discussion in 'disABILITIES!' started by bxccah, Feb 14, 2013.

  1. bxccah

    bxccah Ch-Ch-Ch-ChipnDale!

    Feb 14, 2013
    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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  3. disney david

    disney david DIS Veteran

    Apr 7, 2010
    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.
  4. smallblackstars

    smallblackstars Mouseketeer

    Oct 17, 2012
    I would think there was a girl at Disney wanting to have fun like everyone else :goodvibes
  5. lost*in*cyberspace

    lost*in*cyberspace DIS Veteran

    Dec 30, 2005
    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!
  6. bxccah

    bxccah Ch-Ch-Ch-ChipnDale!

    Feb 14, 2013
    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!
  7. Kellykins1218

    Kellykins1218 DIS Veteran

    Mar 4, 2012
    Well, they sound like the sick ones. You go and have fun!
  8. tikistitch

    tikistitch Mouseketeer

    Feb 22, 2012
    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.
  9. madonniac

    madonniac Mouseketeer

    Jun 21, 2008
    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.
  10. Mom2six

    Mom2six DIS Veteran

    Feb 17, 2011
    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!
  11. dsneprincess

    dsneprincess DIS Veteran

    Feb 3, 2009
    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!
  12. SAT887

    SAT887 DIS Veteran

    Dec 7, 2010
    :hug: 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!
  13. bidnow5

    bidnow5 DIS Veteran

    Mar 8, 2009
    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
  14. bookwormde

    bookwormde <font color=darkorchid>Heading out now, another ad

    Mar 16, 2008
    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
  15. Schmeck

    Schmeck <font color=blue>Funny thing is now my 17 year old

    Aug 26, 1999
    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.
  16. blue65829

    blue65829 Mouseketeer

    Feb 25, 2010
    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.
  17. bxccah

    bxccah Ch-Ch-Ch-ChipnDale!

    Feb 14, 2013
    Thank you all so much for your lovely replies! Yes, I'm going with my mum and my sister. The plan is mainly for my mother to stay with my niece whilst me and my sister go on the more adventurous rides like RnR, ToT etc. Mum reckons we should have a word with guest services and let them know I might have to leave lines quite suddenly if an attack comes on, but I hopefully will be fine! I'll definitely avoid Mission Space then, it sounds like a nightmare! Not too keen on that sort of thing anyway, I get motion sick easily. Also I heard that there's a virtual rollercoaster type thing at DisneyQuest that's similar to the motions of Mission Space- I'll avoid that too!

    I hope I'll be able to just enjoy myself. I love Disney, and the Disney music tends to calm me down when things get bad because its happy memories of my childhood. I've learnt over the years that as long as I'm confident and don't stress too badly, other people don't tend to notice too much. We arrive at Orlando around 2pm, so that'll give me time to find a quiet spot in our resort and Epcot (where we're having dinner that night) so that'll reassure me!

    Again, thank you all so much, all of your answers have been so kind and helpful, and it's stopped me worrying so much. I know as soon as I see that castle, all my worries will go :D
  18. gusdmh

    gusdmh Mouseketeer

    Jan 8, 2008
    All these folks have excellent suggestions and experiences.
    I would suggest to also take advantage of the Fast Pass and extended park openings or closings. They make for quicker access to the rides.
    Also, you may not want to wait till the end for park closings. It's an experience seeing thousands of people leaving the park at once. It makes for 'herding' experience. I think you'll do fine.:thumbsup2
  19. KPeveler

    KPeveler Moderator Moderator

    Dec 17, 2006
    Something that I have discovered about people - if they are going to mind your business, they will always find a reason. I have had lots of comments made about my mobility devices or braces, but before that people made comments about me holding hands with my girlfriend or wife, or my haircut or hair color, or nail color, or how fast or slow I was walking, or whether I unloaded my cart fast enough in a grocery store.

    Do not let other people who feel the need to comment on your business bother you. They will find some reason to be unpleasant, even if you wore long sleeves every minute of every day. Since they are always unpleasant, their words are irrelevant, and have nothing they have to say counts. Why listen to unpleasant strangers?

    What matters is what the people you love say. If people who know you support you, strangers matter very little.

    I say this as someone who has a lifelong severe anxiety disorder, panic attacks, and a former cutter. I have not cut in more than 7 years, so believe me when I say you can make it. Just take it one day at a time and you can make it.
  20. peemagg

    peemagg <font color=blue>We are doing the AKL tri-fecta<br

    Jan 29, 2006

    You said that Disney music calms you down. Do you have something that you can carry with you that you can download that music to to listen to when you start feeling stressed? Maybe if it was on a continuous type loop in one ear it would make things easier for you to deal with.
  21. Swirly girls

    Swirly girls Mouseketeer

    Sep 4, 2012
    I don't mean any disrespect, but seriously if you have all the above issues, then Disney world Is not a place you should be going --- sorry. Stay home.
    Your scarred arms, and overweight are the very least of my concerns too by the way.

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