My name is Naz Gungor and this is my story.
I was 11 and a half when I had my first panic attack, it was a very traumatic experience as you can imagine. I barely knew anything about mental health at this point and I certainly didn’t know I could be affected by it.
The attack happened when I was away on a school trip with a few other classmates. We were visiting a house of horror, one of these places you have to escape from. While there, we were learning about torture methods used in the olden days . Little did I know that I would end up having a complete melt down followed by a full-blown panic attack and hyperventilating.
Being so young, I barely knew anything about anxiety and had certainly never experienced anything like this before. I thought I was dying. I couldn’t catch my breath and my body was shaking uncontrollably. My heart was racing, and I felt myself falling out of control. I remember feeling so alone even though I was surrounded by people. Days later I was still finding it hard to come to terms with what happened. I decided all I wanted to do was forget it ever happened, so I blocked it from my thoughts and never spoke of it for over a year.
Fast forward eighteen months. By this time I had changed schools and was now in year 9. Mental health was still a taboo subject for me though at school we were regularly reminded of all the different websites that we could reach out to if we needed them.
I don’t remember why or how but slowly anxiety crept in and I started getting panic attacks more and more until it was an every day occurrence. I felt sort of numb to the world and realised that there was something wrong with me. The final straw was in 2019 when I was on a flight to Turkey for a holiday, I had a huge panic attack on the plane and knew that I needed help. On returning to the UK I made an appointment to see my GP. I was told it was nothing serious and it “sounded like” anxiety and panic attacks and I was sent home.
Panic attacks were part of my daily life. I felt physically and mentally exhausted. Every night I cried myself to sleep, I was so scared and was sure I was going crazy. Out of desperation my parents decided I should see another doctor has things were now out of control. This time was different. The doctor listened, he understood. I was sent for tests and there were appointments where we just talked. I was referred to Cahms. Unfortunately the waiting time was so long so I saw a private psychiatrist. This was my start of recovery. With the help of family, doctors, my psychiatrist, charities and all the other people who were there for me I managed to overcome this disorder and feel myself again. I learnt how to cope and manage my anxiety levels by using meditation, this gave me a sense of calm, peace and balance. I also gave up caffeine and learnt how to breathe correctly. I started using lavender scent at night to calm myself. The other thing that helped was keeping a stress diary. I use this to write down things that help me get through tough times. The other thing I found really useful was the way I saw my anxiety. When I felt anxiety starting to take over, I would speak to it; “You are not real, this is just a rush of adrenaline, I am fine”. I find the way I talk to myself has changed so much during recovery.
Once I was panic attack free, I decided to start my own blog to try and help others going through the same. https://naz9.home.blog/
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