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home : features : features February 5, 2016

7/24/2013 10:15:00 AM
Woman battles panic attacks by giving
Jesse Corry finds the right size jeans for a client on Jacinta Pericola’s list, from the offerings in the couple’s Prescott Valley garage.
Trib Photo/Cheryl Hartz
Jesse Corry finds the right size jeans for a client on Jacinta Pericola’s list, from the offerings in the couple’s Prescott Valley garage.
Trib Photo/Cheryl Hartz

Cheryl Hartz
News Editor

Jacinta Pericola is living proof of a stenciled message on her living room wall, "Today's Trial is Tomorrow's Testimony."

Anxiety and panic attacks caused Pericola this past year to lose her job with DES after seven years with the agency.

"I can't predict when it's going to happen," Pericola said. "It has the same symptoms as a heart attack. The anxiety attacks vary in intensity, with my mind racing so fast, it takes over the body. Sometimes it feels like having I'm a stroke, and the side of my face goes numb."

She said horrible depression comes after the attacks.

"At first I couldn't leave the house or go out in public; I couldn't be alone at home," she said. "I'm totally fine when Jesse (Corry, her partner) is with me."

Corry, a former U.S. Marine and Hurricane Katrina survivor, knows how to cope with stress and effectively helps Pericola deal with anxiety.

"Most people aren't aware of the disorder because there's nothing physical on your body (to show it). They don't understand," she said.

After four months of solitude, Pericola started a project she always wanted to do - giving away clothing to people in need.

"What people don't understand is that some people don't have a dollar to go to the thrift store," Pericola said.

She advertised the free items on Craigslist, and from their one-car garage, Pericola and Corry gave out toys and clothing through Christmas, took a short break, then started up again, also taking many bags of clothing to Needful Things, a program of the Yavapai Food Bank.

And for a while, they provided sweatshirts and sweatpants to Hospice Family Care in Prescott. Hospice volunteer coordinator Kristy Snyder said the last six months of a person's life are the most expensive, and they need "comfort clothing."

The couple has postponed the clothing giveaway until cooler weather returns.

They didn't stop helping the needy, however. They've been seeking out the homeless, providing water bottles and sunscreen. A donation of 60 cases of water from the Phoenix

Rescue Mission has gone fast.

Nicole Pena, director of community relations for the Mission, a nonprofit organization offering Christ-centered solutions to the hungry and homeless, has been working with Pericola and Corry since the spring to distribute clothing, as well.

"We don't have thrift stores, so our goal is to get clothing out to people who most need it," Pena said. "When Jacinta called, she was pretty desperate, trying to do something out of her own heart. We have clothing, we just don't have transportation, so we're happy for people (outside the Valley) who can pick it up and distribute it."

Pena said the Mission out of Tucson is looking to start a Prescott Valley chapter, called the Navajo Territorial Gospel Rescue Mission.

"That would be amazing," Pericola said, adding she's ready to run it.

Keeping busy helps keep anxiety attacks at bay. She noted it's hard to get help for anxiety when you no longer have insurance, and she has found no resources or community support groups.

"It's really sad - makes you feel like you're alone," she said.

That's why she's trying to start one. Three people so far have responded to her recent Craigslist advertisement for a free support group "to share thoughts and experiences in a safe environment."

"I'll try to hold meetings at my house, because there probably won't be that many people," she said. "Or I can go to people who don't go out."

"I have to motivate myself, and keep on doing. My goal is I have to drive. I'm scared of having a panic attack while driving," she said.

Related Stories:
• Health officials say panic attacks are sudden, scary

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Article comment by: no more panic attacks

I agree with the other posters... panic attacks are not a mental problem. They are physiological. It sounds like Jacinta may have been completely misdiagnosed. I think she is having migraines that manifest as panic and stroke-like symptoms which scream "neurological" to me. She should investigate food triggers and have other tests done...thyroid, cortisol, blood sugar, food allergies, autoimmune markers, etc.

Years ago I was diagnosed with panic disorder but I stopped drinking soda (all the caffiene and sugar) and the panic attacks completely stopped. Mental disorder my foot.

I hope Jacinta looks deeper into her medical issues and finds the real reason for her symptoms. Then maybe she could get proper treatment and return to work. Good luck, Jacinta, and everyone else with these issues.

Posted: Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Article comment by: Bad Meds

I had panic attacks, with depression. I finally found the cause was toxoplasmosis-a parasitic infection. Usually caught from cats.
Anyway- the Morons of Medicine don't treat people for this in the U.S. because it is so common. The CDC just keeps increasing the acceptable levels of it in the blood tests .
I had it so bad I was falling down and walking into things- and the quacks still wouldn't treat me.
I found out from a friend who frequents foriegn doctors that oil of oregano capsules is the prefered remedy in many other countries.
American Docs are incredibly indoctrinated against the efficacy of ancestral medicines thru the big-pharma propaganda they are fed during med school.
All of my symptoms stopped after a couple of weeks on oregano. You can get it at natural food store, and I think Fry's carries it. If I run out for too long the symptoms do come back. The parasite is hard to kill because it shelters in cysts in muscle and brain tissues.
Some European docs and others are starting to discuss toxoplasmosis as a possible cause of bi-polar problems, manic depression and a lot of other similar issues.
I hope this helps someone, I know it worked for me.

Posted: Saturday, July 27, 2013
Article comment by: aza 000000

Medical research has suggested. that such attacks usually have a physical basis it is often diagnosed later after signs leading to symptoms become more obvious to medical providers.
I remember your type of attacks long before I was diagnosed with an autoimmune classification disease 27 years ago.
Bear with it the best you can and don't neglect to push for the correct tests through your medical providers.

Posted: Friday, July 26, 2013
Article comment by: Brenda Smith

This is true that there are no support groups in this area for people who suffer from anxiety and depression. I am someone who is eligible for treatment because of the severity of my illness, through West Yavapai Guidance Clinic, but I do not qualify for the support groups because I am not on AHCCCS. Therefore, I am lacking what I need most for treatment of my disease. Sometimes it really hurts and a lot of people just don't understand. You hear comments like, just get it together, take control of yourself, or your overreacting. These comments just make you feel more isolated. I would love to see support in this area for people who suffer from this illnesses.

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