At the beginning of last year, I made a decision about my life. It was a long time coming and a change was definitely needed.
2016 had been a particularly difficult year for me. A traumatic labour had caused the anxiety to sky-rocket. Leaving the house alone had become impossible. I couldn’t walk to the end of my street for fear of having a panic attack and passing out or getting into jsome kind of medical emergency with no-one around to help me. I had started feeling panicky any time I was out of my comfort zone. Trips to the cinema, and eating out, became things I avoided, instead of enjoying them like I used to. The anxiety had got so bad that I couldn’t understand how I was going to get through life, and at my rock-bottom moments I even wondered if my children would be better off without me. All I did was worry, all day, everyday. I avoided car journeys, driving by myself was out of the question, even just to the local shops. I could only be a passenger in the car if my husband was driving, which meant I couldn’t even go anywhere with friends. I missed family gatherings and birthday dinners because I couldn’t face the journey or the venue, and I would find myself making up one excuse after another out of shame.
I really was so ashamed of myself. I saw what I was going through as a weakness. I felt like a failure for having got myself into this situation, where life just felt exhausting. Don’t get me wrong- I wasn’t unhappy with life, I was loving being a mum, but being anxious all the time was so overwhelming and I was tired. I felt safe in my little bubble and everything out of my comfort zone felt terrifying.
Then when my babies went on their first holiday abroad without me, I decided I needed to get some level of control back in my life.
That was when I found this book. Or should I say THE book.
‘Anxiety; Panicking about Panic’ by Joshua Fletcher.
This book hit the nail on the head for me, because Fletcher, having suffered from anxiety himself, understood that my situation wasn’t caused by unhappiness with my life, it was caused by me being scared of my next panic attack occurring. Anyone who has ever suffered a full blown panic attack will know why- and if you haven’t you’re really not qualified to pass judgement on the matter, or make assumptions about how it feels.
Someone finally got it! I was scared of panic attacks and had begun to avoid any situations where I feared I might have one, and not be able to control it.
This book really helped me to understand what was happening to my body during an attack and the quickest way I could allow it to run it’s course and pass. At the time that I turned to this book, I was having attacks almost daily, and although they haven’t completely disappeared, I recognise my triggers now, and instead of avoiding them, I use the techniques I’ve learnt from this book, and I’m able to stop a full blown attack from occurring, or when I do have one it’s not as bad. They have also reduced in frequency by about 90%.
Anxiety has always been with me, it walks with me and does it’s job when it’s needed, but it doesn’t make any decisions for me or control what I do or where I go anymore. I refuse to give it that power. I feel able to do this, and be strong because of this book. It gave me the push I needed, to take the steps to tackle my situation.
The book taught me that no matter how awful an attack feels, it’s not dangerous, and it is going to pass. I learned that if I gave into the sensations, rather than trying to fight them, they passed a lot quicker. Fletcher helped me to remove some of the fear from the attack and helped me to get my life back.
The road to recovery isn’t only long, it’s permanent. There is a continuous need to remind yourself that everything is ok. The key to doing that effectively lies in arming yourself with knowledge about what is happening to you, and also meditating and reflecting to keep levels of stress hormones in your body low.
If you feel like this book could help you too, it’s available from Amazon. I hope it helps you the same way that it helped me.