I was officially diagnosed with anxiety and panic disorder in October 2014. Although, the anxiety was always ongoing and built up until the end of July where I started suffering from daily and nocturnal panic attacks, which would roughly happen 3-5 times a night, and 2-3 times a day.
I found myself becoming extremely exhausted during the day, and incredibly tired throughout the night. I struggled to wake on time for lessons due to how tired the panic attacks during the night would make me, and I was concerned it would affect my studies. At first, I had no idea what I was suffering from, which made me more concerned with what was wrong with me. It took until October for doctors to finally whittle down to suffering from anxiety and panic attacks after numerous ECG’s and blood tests.
The most important part of discovering I was suffering from panic attacks, was that I discovered that panic attacks didn’t affect my body. They have no damage on my heart, and though it feels like I’m due to die at any second, I wasn’t at all. That relieved the fear, but it didn’t solve the problem. I was given a help booklet to go through, various counselling sessions and I began writing about my experiences properly on my blog in order to make people aware of how anxiety can feel.
But I was also put on propranolol during that time to try calming down my anxiety and controlling my panic attacks. They worked a treat, and they managed to control and prevent nocturnal panic attacks from happening. At first they made me tired, but they also made me feel like I had more freedom than before and I was able to get up earlier and feel less tired as I got used to the dose.
I still remained anxious at times though, having suspicious thoughts about whether people liked me, hiding myself away and ignoring the concept of doing much more about my anxiety.
As the new year came in, I realised I didn’t want these destructive thoughts to continue, and I wanted to be able to control both my anxiety and panic attacks on my own without the medication. I began making a big list, and figuring out my methods in doing this. I reflected back on how awful my 2014 was due to this anxiety in the hope that 2015 would be better.
Since then, I’ve ticked off various things from my list. A list I made because I felt it was about time I tried getting better myself, because after all I didn’t want to stay the way I was. I’ve stayed organised using a diary and list book. I joined the gym and have started going to regular Zumba and aerobics. I tried getting better sleep (still perfecting that one!) I’ve started meditating, drawing for relaxation, socialising more and trying to have a more positive outlook on life using a happiness journal I write in almost every night to be aware of the good things in life. I’ve also tried maintaining a better diet, and tried walking to university more.
With all those things combined, slowly but surely my anxiety is reduced. I no longer have to take medication to control my panic attacks, and though I still have the odd panic attack each week, it’s much better than what it used to be. Slowly I am becoming happier, I’m enjoying life more and I’m realising that actually, being here in the world isn’t so bad at all. Actually, it’s very wonderful, and the experiences that I’ve faced in the past 8 months or so have been ones that I’ll keep forever – because I’ve learnt what having mental illness feels like, but I’ve also felt what it feels like to be strong, brave, to keep trying and to improve from it.
Without those closest to me either, I don’t know where I’d be. Thank you all – My family, closest friends, my counseller, doctor, all the people who randomly made my day better whom I may not know so well, and all the rest I haven’t thanked. This is how far I’ve come so far, and I only hope my story inspires others with anxiety to do the same.
Above is an illustration of me, holding up an example from my sleep tracker during a night of panic attacks back in December. It’s now march, and I haven’t had a nocturnal panic attack since around three – four weeks ago.