What's a gracious way to handle having a panic attack?
Ooooof. It’s tough, and I know all too well that is not a gracious situation.
If you are in public and need to get somewhere private: Take a deep breath. In as normal a voice as you can handle, ask to excuse yourself as though you’re going to the bathroom. Maybe even go there! Do your breathing, take meds, whatever you need. Feel free to lock yourself in the big stall if you need it.
If you are in public and you have someone there who will understand: Same as above, but then text them. “Hey. Locked in the bathroom having a panic attack. [I should feel better in about 15 minutes]//[I need to go home]//[Can you come down and help me?]
If you need to leave leave and go home: From the bathroom, text someone you’re close to — “I’m so sorry, but I’m afraid I’m not feeling well and had to head home. Could you let everyone at the table know, tell them I’m OK, and if they ask, murmur something about my stomach?”
If you’re among friends: Tell them you’re having a panic attack and, if you can, tell them how they can help you, even if that is literally “can I please be somewhere quiet and dark by myself?”