My Health Journey leading to panic attacks
I would like to share with you my personal story around suffering with panic attacks as a teenager.
Life at school
It was September 2009 and I had just started my first year of sixth form. My best friend I had been friends with for around 5 years (since starting High School in Year 7) had picked a different subject to study to me for their A-Levels.
We had been in all the same subjects up until then and I was not particularly looking forward to the next 2 years of studying ahead and a change of scenery.
My best friend and I initially met up for lunch at the start of sixth form (Year 12) until all of a sudden she just drifted away and began getting friendly with another girl who happened to be in my A-Level classes.
I was rather shocked and upset that the friend I had stuck with for several years had just turned on me.
I couldn’t understand at the time what had happened and the reason behind it, but I believe somehow it must have been jealousy, as she was becoming friends with someone I was starting to become friends with in class, I felt she just wanted to prevent that from happening.
I was left alone, pushed aside and felt isolated wondering who I would now hang around with at lunch.
I began hanging around with a group of girls I had previously been friendly with but it didn’t feel the same. I got the impression they didn’t particularly want to be friends with me, which made me feel I was the odd one out and was just tagging along with them.
My appetite wasn’t the same and I was losing weight unintentially at the age of 16 years old and I was constantly feeling weak.
I travelled home from school with a friend who lived just around the corner from me, when one day after school when we had met up to walk to the bus stop together I came over feeling rather ill with unusual cramps in my feet. I felt really scared and sat myself quickly down on the ground, took my shoes off and starting grabbing hold of my feet massaging them.
I got back up off the ground after some time and tried to carry on, however as I walked my feet felt weak and still had a crampy feeling in them like they would cramp up when I walked.
My friend was very understanding and caring and kindly walked very slowly with me to the bus stop, whilst I stopped quite a few times on the way.
We had missed a few buses during that time and what would have been a 5-10 minute walk to a lot longer.
We finally managed to get to the bus stop and get on our bus home. I was so pleased to get off the bus which luckily stops directly outside my parents house and see my Mum, where I just burst out in tears crying to my Mum and feeling distressed.
I had gone back to school wearing trainers with a permission letter my Mum had given me and I was walking around school feeling weak and still struggling to walk with fear.
My Mum eventually booked me a doctor’s appointment, where I explained how I was feeling to the doctor and was weighed and checked.
I remember coming home from school one day and just sitting at the bottom of the staircase feeling ill.
Losing my Grandad
I then found out some devastating news that my Grandad had passed away whilst he was away on holiday in Malta (his home country) and I was absolutely heartbroken by the news.
My Grandad used to come over every weekend to come and visit me and my sister and he took us out shopping and for lunch and we had lots of great and memorable days out, so as you can imagine I was very close to him.
My Grandad’s death really affected me and I was getting terrible panic attacks all the time and feeling hopeless.
My family and I flew out in November 2009 to Malta for my Grandad’s funeral and we stayed at the hotel where he had passed away.
I remember every morning in the hotel I used to sit at the breakfast table with my family and my parents were constantly asking me what I wanted to eat and I used to gag and feel sick and didn’t want anything to eat.
After a few days the hotel staff began to notice that I never ate and said that they can make me almost anything I wanted, such as a fresh omelette or other food made specially but I just didn’t want to eat at all and felt sick.
My Dad started getting some food together from the hotel breakfast and started wrapping it up in serviettes for him to bring out for me to eat whilst I was walking around.
I felt that I could eat when I was away from the hotel and I used to slowly nibble on the dried plain cakes my Dad brought out with him.
I easily felt tired when walking around and had no energy.
I had lost quite a bit of weight by the time I was in Malta and all my family used to say how thin I was and that I needed to eat.
My parents explained to them how I was struggling to eat at that time and not to worry.
Christmas away in Spain
I then went away for Christmas with my family to Malaga in December 2009 and I was still suffering then and struggled to walk along the beach with my family.
I was still skinny and weak and felt exhausted after walking.
Being referred to the hospital
I was referred to the hospital and was seen by a specialist in March 2010 where I had discussed my hard times and the stress and upset I was having.
This all boiled down to studying for my GCSE’s, school, my friendship and my Grandad’s bereavement.
The specialist explained to me and my parents that I was only young and to go and live and enjoy my life and not to worry about anything.
I went away feeling slightly happier, but I wasn’t magically feeling ok and I was still not understanding what was wrong with me and why I was suffering the way I was.
Just before the school summer holidays my younger sister showed me Chatroulette, which is an online dating site which everyone was using.
We started going on to cam to guys and just finding it funny and then I began to chat with a few guys and I had found something that made me feel happy.
I started exchanging MSN’s with different boys across the world I remember going to school and just feeling excited to get home, so I could get straight on the computer and type to boys on the internet.
I carried on using Chatroulette through the school summer holidays and I then came across a guy in Austria, where we exchanged MSN’s and moved our conversation to MSN to type and video call each other.
The Austrian guy wanted to book a flight to London to come and see me and that is exactly what he did.
We then met up in Oxford Street in August 2010 where my Mum took the train up to London with me and then I was left to walk around with my boyfriend. I was really happy and I literally fell in love at first sight!
We spent 2 weeks seeing each other every day and I had great fun and I loved every minute of it. It was the first time in a long time I was gradually starting to feel myself again.
He then came over for Christmas 2010 where we spent Christmas together and he then proposed to me on Christmas Day.
I remember going back in to school after getting engaged and just casually working on my Business A-Level course and I don’t think I really gave it much thought about the fact that I had got engaged and I remember one of the girls in my class seeing a ring on my finger and asking if I had got engaged and I felt proud.
Life after getting engaged
We lived a long-distance relationship for around a year until I finished my school education and booked my 1 way flight ticket to Vienna, where I lived for 2 years!
When I was living out in Vienna I took on a lot of Nanny, Babysitting jobs and English tuition lessons for young children and I absolutely loved it.
We then moved to the UK together in 2013 and I passed my driving test in October 2014 and everything just kept getting better.
After moving back home I then actually starting thinking more about getting married which I hadn’t really given much thought about previously and I was so excited to plan our Wedding.
We finally got married in August 2015 at a Catholic Church in Surrey and had our Wedding reception at a beautiful Golf Club.
We were extremely lucky with the weather as it was such a beautiful hot and sunny summers day and I couldn’t have wished for a better day to get married.
I was running quite late for my own Wedding on the day and I think I turned up at the Church around 20 minutes late with my Dad and little page boy.
When I arrived inside the church everyone was waiting for me and the priest looked at me and asked me if I was ready, I remember feeling emotional and began to get teary eyed and I looked at my Dad and sister and they reassured me and made me pull myself together before walking down the aisle to join my husband to be.
I am so thankful for where I am today and how I managed to get through the terrible stage of suffering with panic attacks.
I am now happily married and I have a loving and supportive family who mean the world to me.
The next steps for me are now to have a family of our own and to find our very own home.