“It can just come out of nowhere” – Rebecca’s story
For Children’s Mental Health Week, Rebecca recounts her experiences with anxiety disorder. She shares what a panic attack feels like, how her condition can be triggered unpredictably and the importance of appreciating good days when they come.
Since the age of eleven, it was gradually becoming clearer that the regular feelings of panic and claustrophobia, that sneaked up on me at random moments throughout the day, weren’t normal. I remember the first time I had an episode where I felt so scared for no reason whatsoever, to the point my heart was physically hurting.
Being at school was already stressful, overbearing and anxiety-inducing. During my mock exams, I was already under pressure from my teachers and family, but in this case, it was me who was pressuring myself too hard. I stopped taking care of myself, spent hours lying in bed at night telling myself the worst possible outcome of what could happen if I didn’t do well in these exams. And no matter how positive I aimed to push my train of thought, it always ended drastically.
The worst part of living with this condition is mainly that it can just come out of nowhere, even if nothing has triggered it.
The worst part of living with this condition is mainly that it can just come out of nowhere, even if nothing has triggered it. You could be having the best day with the best people, having the best food, thinking about the happiest of things, and because it simply doesn’t care where you are, who you are or what you’re doing, it can just surprise you and suddenly the day’s ruined.
Speaking to friends and family seemed like a good option, however speaking to people who couldn’t understand what having my condition was like was slightly frustrating. I still carried on trying to open up to them because I had been suffering with it for so long. It was starting to fester, and I couldn’t let it hurt me anymore.
I was fifteen when I was referred to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) to talk about my anxiety. I will admit that there were some good sessions and there were some very bad ones, which helped me make the decision to not attend those sessions anymore. But despite this, the good sessions were very beneficial in teaching me how to remain calm in stressful situations, loud areas and to not always assume the worst scenario in very menial situations.
It is scary, but it gets less scary overtime.
Even now as I’ve gotten much older, my anxiety still massively affects my friendships and relationships, such as when I’m planning activities, spending so many hours of my life looking in the mirror, wondering what people think when they look at me and feeling that nagging sensation that everyone’s eyes are on me.
Then suddenly the environment around me gets louder and louder, and I can’t stay in that room anymore because of how loud it’s gotten. And suddenly, I’m hyper aware of everything and everyone and it all feels sort of too much. So I need to practice slowing my breathing down, taking deep breaths and clenching my fists because I look down and I see my hands can’t stop shaking? And I can’t seem to speak? And then I know when I finally calm down, that it happened again.
My only advice to deal with this is to remember that you can only have really good days if you have really bad days too. You need to know how bad your days can get before you appreciate the good days. It is scary, but it gets less scary overtime, and it isn’t something that can disappear overnight. Only you can decide what scares you, and you are all just as strong and as capable as you think you are.
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