I mentioned on Twitter I was contemplating writing a post about suffering my first anxiety/panic attack and you all said how you wanted to hear about my experience, as I mentioned at the time I was completely on my own and felt so vulnerable. I’m not someone who ever thought I’d put pen to paper, or really fingers to a keyboard, and write a post this personal and somewhat invasive but my experience, could help someone else out there who finds themselves in a very similar position and remembers this post in a state of anxiousness.
My attack took place on the 31st of March and ever since I have tried to write this post. Never before have I deleted a post so many times to try to write it differently and the words getting stuck. Writing comes so naturally to me, so why has this post been the hardest one yet? Anxiety is not something you can really write down nor can you express with words. I often find myself sounding damn right ridiculous when I tell people how I feel and that has often kept me from admitting from suffering from anxiety because I thought it meant I was weak. I do not believe people who suffer with it are, but I have always wanted to express that I am a strong person and I feel this creates a barrier, and weakens me. I’d say it’s really difficult to understand if you don’t suffer from it yourself, but those that do will understand just what I mean. It’s hard. It’s constricting. It’s claustrophobic.
So I had never had a anxiety/panic attack before March 31st. I’ll just explain what triggered it and how I resolved the situation. As you may (or may not know) Rich has moved back to Devon which means I’ll be in London to finish Uni up until the end of May, and since this point I felt like I was okay. I mean, being lonely is no fun but I kept myself busy and speaking to him with both phone and video calls kind of hid the fact 300 miles sits between us. So I was due to leave for Devon on the 31st, everything was packed and ready to go and I was about to leave to catch the 11:30am bus to Heathrow from where I live to then catch my coach. All set, I went to lock my front door and for some reason, my front door key had vanished from my set of keys. Naturally, I began to panic but searched my coat pockets to see if it had fallen off (somehow?) and I had no luck. I began to hyperventilate and hoped by calling my Mum she’ll suggest where to look, I’ll find it with all but a 10 minute delay. She of course, had no idea (like I still don’t to this day) how or where my flat key could have vanished too. I had no spare set (as Rich has his in Devon and the door has to be locked from the outside else it won’t be locked) and the longer I was on the phone, the more of a state I got into. I began pulling away everything in my flat – sofas, rugs, bookshelves, bags – as well as the content of my packed bag in the hope it had slipped away somewhere. It looked like I had been burgled. No luck. My mum had no idea what more to suggest and said I should call Rich (who sleeps in the day after working nights) as he may be able to offer an insight she might not. Speaking to him I increased in panic, I was coming down to visit him and felt like every minute I was delayed, the less likely I would be to see him therefore letting him down. We had counted down to this day for two and a half weeks, and so my anxiousness grew. He tried to calm me down, but I couldn’t, he told me to look in the obvious places but I had done five times already and I continued to refuse to sit down in my panic to find them. I became extremely short in breathe and began to throw up, at this point I hung up on Rich and tried to get some water, I was in such a state but remained so fixed on trying to find the key I couldn’t think straight and felt really faint.
I then went through my phone contacts to see if anyone could help me, I was about to call Molli but as I was scrolling through my contact list I saw the Estate Agents number we were with before the Landlady went private as they caused too many issues. I knew over a year ago they had a spare key for the flat as they would just let themselves in (so unprofessional) so I figured it was worth a call. As soon as I explained my situation, before I could even finish the rude woman on the other line said “we no longer manage the property, we can’t help you–” and went to hang up, it was only then when I burst into tears and began to lose my breathe she asked if I was okay – did I honestly sound okay? Why is it genuinely when you sound ill/upset do people then offer to help? She then said they had a set of keys that might be for the property but wouldn’t know and I’d have to get them ‘cos no-one (of all the people that worked there) could come to me to help. They were a good hour walk, and no idea where they were on the bus.. I didn’t drive so I again felt like I was stuck in a hole and felt like I had digged myself deeper and deeper. At this point I had totally missed my bus to Heathrow and was no way going to make my coach. I had never missed a coach before in my life and knowing time was still ticking, my anxiousness convinced me Rich was going to leave me because I had let him down as well as thinking everyone can’t think I can cope on my own. Anxiety puts weird thoughts in your mind that when you’re vulnerable, you seem to believe and feel no self-worth. I told Rich what had happened and suddenly had a brain wave and hung up again on him to ring my boss at work – I knew the managers both drive in and if they were free to take me there I could see if the keys fit my flat.
Before this, I felt totally alone and never thought to get hold of those I work with for help. I hate asking for help – regardless of what it is – money, panic, loneliness or even cooking. My manager turned up after what seemed the longest 10 minutes of my life and we went to the Estate Agents using his iPhone as a Sat Nav going into an area neither of us were familiar with. He made me laugh which is what I really needed – comparing my to the crying face snapchat filter of that week! The Estate Agents were miserable as Sin as I arrived and had no consideration for the trauma I had suffered, they rudely handed over the keys and I left abruptly. They have always disliked me and I feel for a professional agency, they should sort their attitudes out.
When I got back to the flat I tried the keys, the one that looked the same as my old one failed and I could feel my heart go into hyper drive, but I tried the other silver one of the set and it turned my door! I then started weeping with happiness. I called up National Express to see if I could book the later coach, which they did for me for the £5 amendment fare which was amazing of them and then rang Rich’s mum (who was scheduled to pick me up at 6) to say I’d be arriving at about 9.30pm instead. She agreed and made sure I was okay as Rich updated her as well as about how I was. I then updated my mum and she did a great job at cheering me up.
Even writing what happened, despite looking once again like the snapchat filter of the crying face – I feel like it sounds pathetic, like any normal person would have thought of that before, but what was sorted in a few hours felt like a lifetime in a body full of panic in a way I had never experienced before. I have learnt two things from my experience: 1) How anxiety is something I have suffered with for years without knowing or wanting to admit to it, it has evolved in situations from having to go on training for work to spending a night alone in London to always being somewhere early as I panic at being late. Denying it isn’t going to help. 2) You’re not alone, even when you are. All my friends were back at home for the Easter holidays and I had no family here (direct family at least) who could help. Calling my boss up for help was the biggest step which resolved the issue. He thanked me as I went into work with a bottle of Prosecco for him, but he’s the one to thank as I never realised how important it is to ask for the help you need. I do not suffer from anxiety daily, and can only imagine how those that do feel, but this experience has helped me realise it does not make me weak.
Getting myself in such a state did not help, in fact it probably caused panic to my mum, family and boyfriend as they had never seen me in this way so if you have a similar experience, as tough as it can be, control your breathing. This is what caused me to throw up and feel faint – keeping in control is paramount even though at the time it doesn’t. Worrying about things that may or may not happen as a side effect is silly too – I was convinced Rich was going to leave me and my family would laugh about how useless I am living on my own – but that was silly again too. They all think the world of me and although I remained anxious to see Rich as a result, he welcomed me with open arms and told me he loved me, in fact my Mum had the same reaction. I always presume the worst and in a situation like this, that doesn’t help anything or anyone.
So many people suffer with anxiety and being on my own was petrifying but I’m now stronger for it. Please, if you know anyone that suffers from Anxiety, give them a hug. It wasn’t until this experience did I realise my closest friend as well as so many of my followers on Twitter suffered from it, it’s weird, it seems obvious now but I honestly felt like I was on my own with how I felt.
Sorry this post is the longest one ever, so thank you from the bottom of my heart from reaching the end. If you suffer from Anxiety or know anyone who does, do let us know in the comments what you do to remain calm and in control of your thought process – your tip could save someone else from their next attack! My heart goes out to everyone and anyone who has ever had an attack like mine, it was the scariest thing in the world but if you ever need someone to talk too, don’t hesitate to contact me through social media listed below!
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