I have talked about my panic attack disorder before and just wanted to touch on what its like actually coping day to day with it even though I’m not really suffering the main symptoms anymore.
I haven’t had a full blown panic attack in possibly two years (touching wood). Does this mean I am cured? Nope. Because on a day to day basis, though I suppose in truth a week to week basis something happens which either triggers my anxious feelings or makes me hyper aware of a situation where I could get anxious. Sounds crazy but if you live with it you know what I mean!
I rarely travel by tube. I pre plan my routes into central London meticulously so that I either avoid the tube or only have to go a few stops. This makes me sad as I used to work in central London every day and it didnt even bother me. The only time I got nervous about the underground was after the 7/7 bombings which is understandable. I avoid going to places if I cant get there by bus, or travel outside rush hour. I am getting better and recently made it home on tube and train whilst drunk which was a big test! I am not there yet but I fully accept I’m almost there and it takes time.
The fact I have a new job is a big milestone. I have to travel by train (even though its not far) to get there and I work with other people and strangers. New faces and large crowds something which was not possible a few years ago. Going out my front door was impossible so working in a busy environment was unthinkable. Does this mean I’m cured? Nope.
When I am out shopping if I start to feel hot and I’m in a queue I get nervous. This was a real no no in my dark days and I would often bail before getting to the till. Now I just ride it out as I know I will be served and out of there soon. Sometimes you get odd thoughts in your head like if I fainted whilst crossing the road would anyone notice? The fear of looking stupid is a big one and common with panic attack sufferers but I know that of course someone would notice and help.
Going swimming by myself was something I overcame recently. I had a fear that I would drown in the deep end if I had a panic attack. The likelihood of me having an attack is relatively small and if I did I can swim, I can get out, its fine. Seems so silly writing it down but it doesnt feel silly when its happening to you.
One of the best things to come out of this is not caring what others think of me. It’s taken this illness to finally accept I am who I am, flaws and all. I’m not a bad person, my friends and family seem to think I’m okay and love me for who I am even though I know I am a pain at times. If people look at me weird on the train as im stripping off layers because I am hot, downing water and doing my deep breathing exercises so what? I have a reason, it’s personal and maybe they are looking because they have been there or they might just think im a crazy menopausal woman! But who cares its part of me. The difference is that I am no longer letting it define me or my life. And for anyone out there who is currently suffering and thinks there is no light, there is. I’m proof as are many people. You can get better, you can survive and you will.
I would love to hear from anyone who suffers, is suffering or has suffered from anxiety, panic attacks or depression. Email me at address above or post a comment.