I have always been an anxious person since childhood, worrying about things rather than playing with other kids my age but my problems really started around 15 years ago. I lost my best friend to cancer and then my partner at the time left me just weeks after having our daughter. I thought I was coping really well, and then one day when I was in town with a friend and we were standing in a queue at the bank and we were chatting away and suddenly everything went hazy. The only way I can describe it is that everything seemed distant, and I could see people and see their mouths moving but I couldn’t seem to understand what they were saying. I can remember my friend shaking me and asking if I was ok and feeling like my heart was about to explode out of my chest and needing to find the nearest chair as my legs felt as though they couldn’t hold me up.
It felt like something was really wrong, and I would go as far as to say I felt like I was dying and I just needed to get home. We left town in a hurry, my friend crying with fear because she didn’t know what was happening to me. I have recently learnt that doing this was my biggest mistake, as after this episode, the only place I felt safe was at home and it became my prison for 5 years. I was forced by my family to seek medical help but my GP made me feel I was overreacting. Asking for help every time I needed shopping was degrading and I felt I was constantly putting my friends and family out. The worst day of my life came when my daughter fell and broke her wrist and she was terrified and crying and I had to watch her being taken to hospital by someone else as the panic had a too bigger hold on me.
My children used to go and spend weekends with their father and during this time I also developed monophobia (fear of being left alone). As soon as they left the house I would have panic attacks after panic attacks. There is also nothing like the feeling of watching friends and family go on holiday and knowing I couldn’t take my children anywhere. My eldest son couldn’t bear to see me suffering and moved out at 16 to live with his girlfriend, but my other two children were my lifesavers. They looked after me in a way I can never repay. They never once asked anything of me and we spent many hours having great times together at home playing games and watching movies. They were the reason I was determined to recover.
The first step was a new doctor, followed by endless hours of counselling…going over my past, this didn’t help at all. CBT helped for 6 sessions but then it stopped and was made to feel a failure for it not working. I should have had more but couldn’t afford it. Next came hours and hours of browsing the internet. Panic attack ‘remedies’ were out there apparently, most costing a fortune!! I was about to give up hope completely when a link for No Panic came up on google. Thank God I clicked on it as I nearly didn’t and would never have been where I am today.
It took a while to pluck up courage, I kept the number next to my phone. Then one day when my children were out and I was panicking and I phoned the No Panic helpline out of desperation. A lovely woman who was the most understanding person I had spoken to since my panic had begun answered the phone and calmed me down immediately. After talking to her a few times I was confident enough to join the telephone recovery group that she recommended. The first couple of sessions felt strange, even difficult, I don’t think I spoke apart from my name, but there was no pressure at all. I began to see my anxiety in a different light.
I listened to others who had similar issues to myself. We got together once a week and shared advice and coping techniques. The group leader was a lovely lady and shared tools that we could use, there was also the crisis message we could call if desperate. I’m not saying it was immediate, but within a year I was almost panic free and was booking our first family holiday. There were days that were harder than others, but they became less and less. I took all the advice I could and really listened to what the other people were saying in the group, I took so many notes and worked out a strategy that I thought would help me and just tried my hardest.
I have now been panic free for 3 years and if I can do it then so can anyone. S
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