Today is World Mental Health day, which is an important day to raise awareness for mental health problems and to encourage those of you who feel like they’re suffering to come forward, to talk about it and to know that you are not alone. However today I’d like to talk about my own story, which is something that I’ve definitely chosen to keep quiet up to now – I think that coming forward and being open and honest is important on days like today, which is why I’ve chosen to finally come forward and talk about myself.
Before I begin, I’d also like to take a moment to mention my charity of choice for this cause. If you have a minute or if you want to take a quick break from this post to go and check them out, my charity of choice is the Mental Health Foundation.
Their website reads: “Good mental health is fundamental to thriving in life. It is the essence of who we are and how we experience the world. Yet, compared to physical health, so little is commonly known about mental ill health and how to prevent it. That must change. The Mental Health Foundation is the UK’s charity for everyone’s mental health. With prevention at the heart of what we do, we aim to find and address the sources of mental health problems. We must make the same progress for the health of our minds that we have achieved for the health of our bodies. And when we do, we will look back and think that this was our time’s greatest contribution to human flourishing. The Mental Health Foundation is a UK charity that relies on public donations and grant funding to deliver and campaign for good mental health for all.”
When I was in school, somewhere between ages 13-15, I began to experience panic attacks for the first time ever, I didn’t realise what they were to begin with and just assumed I was hyperventilating for no reason, it was a teacher who told me that they were panic attacks and it seemed like I’d get het up for no reason a lot after that. I’d get them in school, out and about and at home.
Because of this I did go to counselling and speak to somebody about it, because again: That’s the most important thing that you can do. I had a few sessions and then was told that I needn’t go back, I had it under control. I actually then didn’t experience panic attacks for a good year, I was doing well and everything seemed to be going up for me.
Then I’d get the odd one here and there again, I told my mum about it one time because I thought I was having an asthma attack and she told me that it sounded like it was a mild panic attack, my hyperacusis was also at its worst around this time too so I decided to go to the doctors and ask to see someone about it again to find out what the root problem of it all was.
I didn’t know I had hyperacusis at this point either, but anxiety and hyperacusis are linked which made a lot of sense to me when I was told about it, and it seemed to add up as well. Having a name to one problem that I was unsure about made life feel a bit more clear, it was nice to say that I wasn’t crazy and that it was a genuine issue that I was suffering with, and then I actually didn’t get panic attacks for another year up until I had my tonsils removed.
My reaction to going under anaesthetic was to wake up to a nasty panic attack, I’ve said it before as well but the nurses were as unhelpful as anything, being a bit nasty and sharp with me because I’d woken up in this state that I couldn’t help, I felt like I just wanted to go home and sleep after that because I did feel a bit ashamed with myself for getting in such a mess – which should never ever be the case.
My most recent panic attack was actually in Lisbon, but having someone around who knew how to handle it and how to calm me down made life a lot easier and calming down a lot faster, we were just driving in his car and I had a tight feeling in my chest and my ears were ringing really loud which is usually a sign that I’m going to have one, so I immediately told him I didn’t feel good, he pulled over and helped me get through it. So, even though my panic attacks are a lot less frequent nowadays they do still make an appearance every now and then. It’s fine though, because I know that I have a good support system, that counselling is an option if I feel like I need it and there’s people around me willing to help me if life gets a bit messy and I feel overwhelmed.
So, what about you?
If you’re feeling like you’re in a dark place at the minute, or if you feel like you’re heading back into one: People care about you. There are people that are willing to sit down and have a listen to you if you need to vent, your doctor is only a phone call away and there are so many amazing services out there that can help you through any bad times, and if you feel too shy to talk to your family or to a doctor, my email is always open and I’m also willing to be your ears, although I cannot help you in the same way, if just getting some things off your chest makes you feel better then I’m also here.