Dear past me,
Today we celebrated one year without panic attacks. That’s 365 days you have fought panic and anxiety and I don’t think you realise how proud you should be of yourself.
The last year has not been easy and I thought I’d write you a letter to remind you of the useful techniques you’ve gained in the last year and hopefully, will help someone else in your situation. It is important to remember that recovery from mental health is not linear and you will have to work really hard. There will be moments where you will want to give up and moments where you’ll be frustrated you’ve had to work harder than usual. But that’s how mental health works. It will be demotivating, and you’ll question what this is worth. I promise you that it is worth it.
Making the decision to start fighting panic instead of letting it take control is the biggest battle you’ll face. It will take guts. The first thing you should do is face panic head-on and acknowledge it exists, it’s ok to have a mental health illness and then you should ask for help. Asking for help is ok and is not admitting defeat. By asking for help and sharing how you feel, the isolation and loneliness you’ve been feeling for months will finally ease. This feels like the biggest weight lifted off your shoulders. You will learn the more you share, the easier your journey will be. Accepting mental health support is the biggest and best step you’ll take.
Panic causes us to adhere to safety behaviours that make you think you’re helping yourself cope, but they don’t. They make you feel worse. You will learn that your safety behaviours are contributing to your panic. You’ll learn how to stop these behaviours and stop analysing yourself and your symptoms. A racing heart is normal when you’ve exercised! Having a stomach flip can feel the same as excitement- you’re allowed to feel excited!
You need to learn how to believe in yourself. By doing this, you’ll walk into situations with confidence. Having confidence will stop you from focusing so much on your anxious thoughts. Don’t let panic take the spotlight. You’re far more important. This will help you to reassure yourself that you are safe, and everyone loves you. You will discover that certain places or situations aren’t the cause of your panic attacks, and you don’t have to ensure you sit at the end of a crowded table or sit near the exit. You’ll stop planning the easiest way to escape the restaurant without causing a scene. You’ll start to love eating out with your family or friends with a little bit of motivation. You’ll walk into a room with confidence and build up the evidence that panic doesn’t have to take over every social occasion you face. You stop caring what other people think of you and you’ll finally start to believe in yourself.
Panic will encourage you to start running. You learn to love running (weird), you’ll run a half marathon on your own during lockdown with no one to watch you or cheer you on! (I’m not sure why you did this?). You will finally understand how important physical activity is for your mental health. Panic will also teach you how to say no when things get too much. You don’t have to force yourself to do everything if you don’t want to. You will find time to be more creative and start projects to keep you occupied and keep your mind from wandering.
Anxiety will still be a frequent visitor, but it won’t have control over you leaving the house. At times, anxiety can be helpful. Anxiety will show you how loved you are and show you how many of your friends and family feel the same. Finally, you will eventually realise how much everyone wants to support you. You will help others through their mental health recovery by sharing your story.
To end this letter to my past self, I will say you will get through this. This will be the hardest year of your life. One year on, you will feel confident, brave and so dam proud of yourself. You will feel more loved than you’ve ever felt before and you have an army of support behind you.
Here’s to one year without panic attacks. 365 days of putting yourself first and finally, believing in yourself.
How can No Panic help?
No Panic specialises in self-help recovery and our services include:
Providing people with the skills they need to manage their condition and work towards recovery.
Our aim is to give you all of the necessary advice, tools and support that you will need to recover and carry out this journey. No Panic Recovery Programs