It started at the end of grade seven. I was only twelve and had no idea what it was. I hadn’t heard of anxiety so when I had my first panic attack, I thought I was dying.
My heart would beat so fast that I could hear it in my ears. I was dizzy and my body felt numb.
The thing that made me so anxious was the thought of getting sick. I was sure it was the worst thing that could ever happen. Along with that I would wash my hands dozens of times.
I got help by telling my parents. They took me to see a doctor, then a psychologist. At first I thought I could do it on my own, but I was wrong, I needed support. There were also people at school who would help, like school chaplains and teachers.
I was diagnosed with anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I felt so weighed down with it. I felt I might break.
It has been three years since my first panic attack, and although it’s still a work in progress, I have become stronger and know I can win this battle. I want to be in control of my anxiety, rather than being its servant.
I still get panic attacks but I have learnt to focus on my breathing and to distract myself with things like music, watching a movie or colouring in. I now know I am not alone. There are people out there to help me.
If you know one of your friends is suffering anxiety, try to talk to them and be there for them. It really helps to know that someone cares.
I’ve struggled with anxiety since I was a child, but wasn’t diagnosed until the end of High School. I’ve suffered panic attacks, where I really felt as though I was dying, and had several anxiety attacks, where I felt as though I couldn’t escape the spiral of worries and fears.
I’m turning 20 this year, and while I still feel anxious now and then, I have the skills to identify it and deal with it before it becomes too much.
In the beginning a psychologist helped me recognise situations when my anxiety rose. For me, this was any time that I felt I couldn’t leave a situation (like a room, party, or meeting). I would feel physically trapped, and it would cause me to panic.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had a full-blown anxiety attack.
Some tricks I’ve picked up over the years include
- Concentrate on your breathing.
- Accomplish something that you can then see (clean a window, do a drawing, write a poem).
- Do a mind map of your thoughts.
- Go for a walk.
I have written more about my anxiety on my blog - The Diary of a Law Student Australia - because I know that many people struggle with it on a daily basis.
When I was little I was a pretty anxious kid. I was shy and got nervous when I received attention. In primary school I was bullied and that kind of made me worry about what people thought of me. I thought people were judging me.
It got worse when I was older. In year 8 I went to a school disco and had a pretty bad panic attack.
It felt like I was going to die. I was hot. I couldn't breathe and I was shaking like crazy. I couldn't stop crying. Three years on and I still get them. But I've learnt how to calm down during one.
When I'm in the middle of a panic attack I try to focus on my breathing to try and control it. To calm down I tell myself that everything is going to be okay.
I overcame it by not getting stressed about the little things. I remind myself I am safe and I am loved. I found out worrying about having a panic attack would usually lead to one. Getting rid of my fear is something I am still working on. But I've gotten better and worry less about what people think of me.
To help a friend who is having a panic attack you could just sit there with them. Get them some water. Help them control their breathing.
Have you struggled with intense anxiety or panic attacks?
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