Back in 2010 I was a shell of my once bubbly & care free self, a mere shadow of the confident and independent woman I am today. This was because crippling panic attacks and anxiety had become an unwelcome resident in my everyday life. Whether you’re here because you are in, what feels like the darkest time, or you have a friend/relative suffering, know that you can overcome anxiety. If I can, you can too.
I remember the first panic attack I ever had, lying in the dark next to my unsuspecting boyfriend, I remember thinking something was horribly wrong, my heart isn’t beating properly, my lungs couldn’t fill up, I WAS DYING. I shot up, scaring the poor guy half to death, with my two fingers on my neck checking for a pulse and in sheer horror that my life was about to end. As I crawled to my moms bedside for her to call an ambulance, I could never have imagined the fight I would have to endure over the years to come.
Back then, mental health wasn’t accepted in the way it is now. It wasn’t something I could talk to colleagues or friends about, because it was unheard of, so I kept that night to myself for a long time. Whenever I felt panic creeping up on me, I would take myself off to suffer alone. Painting my nails, having a bath, or just sitting on the toilet breathing into an empty toilet roll holder.
It wasn’t until around 6 months of having the occasional panic attack that my mind started to make associations with every element of life that made me feel the slightest bit unnerved. Before long most day to day tasks lead to fight or flight until I eventually asked for help. I was signed off from work and diagnosed with Panic Disorder.
Over the course of the next 3 years, I was to face what to date, have been my darkest days. My diagnosis was Panic Disorder which developed into generalised anxiety disorder and as a result depression. It was a vicious cycle and in my deepest darkest place, I even planned my own suicide – How I would end my life and the messages of apology I would leave behind. Because at that point in time, in that place, where the only way I could get through the day was to sit in a hot bath and cry, suicide felt like the only way out for me.
My story is something I will be happy to go into at length if that is something you would like to read? but, that isn’t the point of this post. The point is that in 2014, I was signed off from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and over the course of the past 3 years I’ve worked really hard to be in control of my anxiety. Finally I feel like I’m ready to really delve into that time and share what I learnt without triggering a relapse. Today I’m a living, breathing, happily single young woman living in London, away from all of the people I love and who kept me going in my darkest time. I can’t quite believe it.
Don’t get me wrong, It was not an easy journey and I cannot ‘fix’ it for you, I know I was very fortunate to have a support network around me that demanded the treatment I needed when I was too vulnerable to ask for it myself. But I have so many tools that I believe I can share with you to help you overcome those dark days and pick you up when you need it. For you, I want to be that support network.
Please believe me when I say, I know how it feels to have your heart beat so hard out of you chest, you feel its going to explode, your head to feel so light that you might as well be floating, for your legs to feel like they will give up on you any second. I know the feeling of being surrounded by so many people but yet feeling totally alone. To feel so depressed, its like someone is stamping on your chest so hard you can barley catch your breath. I KNOW, I KNOW I KNOW. But please trust, that if I can overcome it, seriously. YOU CAN TOO.
In this revamped Sophie Kathleen, I will be sharing all of the things I’ve learnt about mental health, the things I do to take care of myself and my mind and how I make self love a priority. Please be kind to yourself and remember that although right now it may seem like you can’t overcome this you can and I want to be there with you every step of the way.
If you or someone close to you is fighting mental health issues, please remember it is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of and there are people who are able to help you. You can find various contacts on the NHS website here.
If you made it to the end of this post, BRAVO … It was a long one. I can’t quite believe that I am here, sitting on my bed righting a post about overcoming what I thought was the impossible. I look forward to chatting to you all and building together a positive community of fellow anxiety suffers who refuse to be defined by their illness.