I am the spouse of someone with anxiety. We are married for 16 years, the anxiety/ panic disorder started about 7 years ago. I can often tell when he is starting to have a panic attack before he knows it from his face and sounds he makes. I understand the difference between his "true" behavior and his "panic" behavior, which makes him behave very differently. Panic episodes that escalate into fights between us will cause him to "verbally obliterate" as necessary in order to regain control of the situation. He doesn't back down, he will not take a break to cool off even though he has expressed in the past that he knows this is a problem. Sometimes it becomes physical.
I would like some advice from an alpha male out there can identify the behavior above in themselves. I need some suggestions on what I can say during these escalations that might get him to back off enough to put a safe distance between us when I start to fear for my physical safety. I have had years for trial an error and I clearly still havenít found something that works. Yesterday I tried something new, while he was yelling at me with me backed against a wall I asked him to please go take one of his Xanax and give it a couple minutes before we continue talking because I could see on his face what was happening and I started to get afraid that he was going to hurt me. That was the wrong thing to say. When I tried to walk away he swept my leg to stop me, my knee made a loud snapping noise and I dropped to the floor in extreme pain. I ended up in the emergency room because I was afraid my knee broke.
So the lesson I learned from that experiment is donít tell someone who is having a panic attack that they are having a panic attack. At that moment, that is not the thing they are willing to hear. But in that moment there is literally nothing I can say. And staying silent also makes him angry. He physically doesnít allow me to move away, and staying in place makes me afraid for my safety. I feel very hopeless right now. Any advice would be appreciated.