So this is more of a negative story… when it all began. It started when I was doing my A Levels in 2016. Towards the end of Year 12 I began feeling anxious when taking exams, I would feel trapped even when simply sitting in a class room. I was so dedicated to do well that I was stressed out on a daily basis. Once the summer holidays had started I felt as though this stress was still with me. I couldn’t seem to find a way to relax. As it was getting closer to my holiday it began to get worse.
I had a tight feeling in my throat that wouldn’t go away, it put me off eating and made me worry about feeling sick when I ate. I am very scared of throwing up (I try to avoid it at all costs).
I was worried about feeling sick in the car, even though I never usually suffer from this. To prevent throwing up I decided I wouldn’t eat when travelling in the car, only when we were stopped… This was a bad idea! Not eating actually made me physically feel horrible to the point where I could not eat, and because I had eaten so little that week it did not help…
One day went by in the car, I couldn’t bring myself to eat even when we were stopped for food, I couldn’t even finish a cracker. I had about half a cracker, I told myself I would eat at the hotel and I would feel better then. However, once we were at the hotel I still struggled to eat, I did not feel hungry at all. That night I barely slept, I felt horrible. My chest felt tight, my hands were feeling ‘tingly’ and I felt restless, it is hard to describe but I had never felt like this before. I woke up around 5 and lay in bed until it was time to leave.
We got in the car and made our way to our destination. Once we arrived at our family home, dinner was ready. I sat down in front of my food and looked around me, everyone had clearly been hungry, they were eating away after such a long journey. All these thoughts were going through my head making me wonder why I did not feel hungry and why the food did not look the slightest bit appealing to me! Then it all started…
I tried to take my first bite of food, lifting my fork as my hand was shaking. Suddenly I got the ‘tingly’ feeling in my hands again, this time much worse, like pins and needles. I decided to stand up, and as I did I began to feel faint. All I could think was that I needed to get away from the food, but at the same time I was telling myself I had to eat as it had been such a long time since I had, but why couldn’t I?
I was told to go and lie on the bed next to the fan but the fan wasn’t helping! Nothing seemed to be helping! The feeling was so strange, I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I began breathing heavily, the numbness in my hands increased and moved up my arms and across my body. At this point I could not feel a thing, I felt like I was dying…
My legs were numb, my hands were curled up and numb as I had no control over them, or any part of my body. I could not even talk as my face went completely numb, my stomach felt like it wasn’t there, making it so much harder to breathe. I tried to shout “what is wrong with me”, but I could barely get the words out. My Mum called for someone to help, my family came rushing in as my mum stared at me in shock not knowing what was happening. I heard my dad yelling at my granddad to tell the ambulance to hurry up whilst telling me to slow down my breathing and stay awake as I could feel my eyes shutting.
By the time the ambulance arrived I began to feel my legs again, I had regained control of my hands and I was sat there wondering what had just happened. Once the situation was explained the first thing they asked was if I suffer from anxiety, which I replied yes but I had never suffered with major panic attacks. I was taken to the hospital and checked over, the doctors told me it was ‘just’ a panic attack. I was given a drink to calm me down and went home again, once I was able to walk properly.
Although the doctors had reassured me I was fine, I had never experienced anything like this before so for them to tell me it was ‘just anxiety’ wasn’t enough for me to believe. I didn’t know a panic attack could make you feel this bad. I was staying in Italy for four weeks, I could barely talk to my friends due to the lack of access to the internet, meaning I could barely research any of this.
For the rest of the holiday I continued to struggle with eating, although I did manage to eat a little more each day. I felt so alone, no one seemed to understand. My panic attacks continued to happen pretty much every day, I was convinced this feeling could not just be anxiety, I thought something was wrong with me. Some days I would cope a lot better and others would be really bad again, I always felt like I needed to be near a hospital in case it all happened again. I called a few help lines but this still didn’t feel like enough…
The holiday eventually came to an end and I was glad to be going home. The journey home was much better, although the fear of it all happening again never left my mind. I went on to get counselling, Everything I had experienced was explained to me, making me understand how a panic attack can make you feel and how to try and control it. It took me a while but eventually I improved, the panic attacks got better and I was able to eat properly again.
Today, I no longer suffer from panic attacks, however going on holiday or away from home does give me a lot of anxiety, and it gets me down because I worry that this event will happen again, even two years on this still affects me. I have managed to go on a few family holidays since, I have not suffered from panic attacks but I have struggled to eat and I usually lose weight when I am away.
However I am improving. Recently I moved out, which was a worry for me, however it has allowed me to realise I am capable of this! I also managed to go away without my family, which was something that I worried about for weeks, but I was fine! When I came back it was the most amazing feeling, knowing that I had been able to do this! Now I am hoping to do a lot more travelling, with and without my family. I am hoping to get to a point where this event no longer stops me from seeing the world and living my life to the fullest.
I will explain my process of improvement in more detail in another blog, I also aim to post about holidays I will be going on and how I manage to cope. 🙂