World Mental Health Day 2019 – How far I’ve come.

I was unsure whether to post this blog a few weeks ago but it seems fitting that I do today as it’s World Mental Health Day.

Last month I totally jinxed myself. I thought, smugly, it’s been a year since I had my last panic attack. The reason I knew this was because my last one – an almighty 9 on the Richter scale of panic attacks – was helpfully on the morning of my daughter’s birthday party. It was just me and my daughter and it was one of the worst, most uncontrollable feelings of my life.

So at 5.30 on the Saturday morning of this year’s birthday party, and the very early morning of a very busy weekend full stop, I didn’t quite recognise the weird indigestion feeling I could feel growing in my chest.  I was trapped between a snuggly 8 year old who had come into my room as she was “too excited” to go back to sleep, and my boyfriend who was making the most of the close proximity to which I had been pushed and was giving me snuggles on his side too. On the face of it this seemed like the perfect way to wake up (if a little early) but that nagging feeling in my chest started to take over.

I excused myself trying not to worry either of them and went downstairs praying it wasn’t what I thought it was as I did.

What a difference a year makes

The difference about this attack and last year’s was that I am in a much better place generally than I was and I’m much more educated on why panic attacks happen and how I can best deal with them.

Around this time last year I went through a short course of CBT for my attacks.  Ironically I didn’t have one during the course so wasn’t able to put any of my ‘homework’ into practice, because of this I wonder if it would make any difference at all.

Swing back to last month and it did. I quickly found a guided meditation for panic attacks that focused the mind and the breathing and plugged myself in with my headphones.  I told myself that it was just a fight or flight reaction and I didn’t need to do either.  I told myself that sometimes trying to fight the feelings I felt building made the symptoms actually so much worse and sometimes just accepting they will happen takes the wind out of the attack’s sails. It didn’t make it miraculously appear, I still cried and had to take about 45 mins to come down from the rafters, but I didn’t feel like I’d done a Wolf Run 4 times – battered, bruised and exhausted (I’m guessing here, I’ve never done a Wolf Run). I also didn’t get to a stage where it felt like my world was about to implode as I had before.

The best thing

Cuddles with Charlotte

The best thing about this particular panic attack, if there could possibly be one, is that I knew I had people around me. Early in our relationship I told my boyfriend that I suffered with anxiety and had previously had panic attacks. I told him about my PND and everything else. I was upfront and honest so when it happened I didn’t feel ashamed or worried about what he would think. I knew he would just want to help. He came down to see what was happening and I explained briefly, he asked if he could do anything and when I said not really he gave me a hug and a kiss and told me he would be in the other room if I needed anything.  Charlotte came in, which last time made my panic much worse, but this time she came and asked if I was ok, gave me a hug, told me she loved me and went to get breakfast. Later on my boyfriend then came in and sat with me and gave me a hug and then it was over. Such a different story to the previous year’s attack thankfully.

Mental Health is a daily thing for me not just something to be aware of one day in October. I knew that work issues were getting on top of me. I knew that I hadn’t exercised enough over the summer holidays and had probably drunk and eaten food which does not make my body feel ‘good’. If you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks please speak to your GP or refer yourself to your local NHS talking therapies organisation (for those in Coventry and Warwickshire this is IAPT)  I’ve now learnt that this does seem to be something I will have to live with but I can definitely help myself in so many ways and make these horrible moments few and far between.

Now to get back to exercise, eating well and less alcohol to help keep these things at bay!

Leave a Reply