Today I received a Facebook message from Panic Away member, Stephanie. She wanted to share her story with everyone. Stephanie started having Panic Attacks 5 years ago and it ruled her life. She missed days of work, she could not go on long journeys and she couldn’t even get into the car with her partner. With thanks to Panic Away, Stephanie is back to her old self- relaxed, happy and loving life.
Approximately 5 years ago I started having panic attacks. At first, I wasnt sure what was going on. I would lose feeling in my hands and feet, feel incredibly dizzy and a bit ‘dreamlike’, my breathing gets shallow and I felt like I needed the bathroom. All at once! I started to get really nervous and anxious about going out. Scared that I would be stuck out in public and suffer a panic attack and not be able to escape or hide from public eye. The thought of being stuck in a car, in traffic was the worst. Even going for a walk was a scary thought, what would happen if I was halfway through my walk and it happened?
I started to feel nervous and anxious all the time, which resulted in some periods of ‘nervous belly’ and the urgency to use the bathroom. This was just another thing that scared me! In fact, I was now more concerned about this happening to me in public, than having a panic attack. I knew that not a lot of people would know from looking at me that I was suffering a panic attack. But what if I started running around begging for somebody to tell me where the bathroom is?
I get the train 50 minutes one way to work in the city. At my worst, for a long time, the train trip was something I would dread all the time. From the minute I got off a train, I started worrying about the trip home in 9 hours. What if the train broke down and I was stuck in it and I needed to go to the bathroom because I was nervous? What if it broke down inbetween train stations and we were stuck there with no way for me to escape or get out?
I missed work. There were days I just couldnt do it.
My self planned treatment was to stop eating before I had to go anywhere, in the hopes that this would mean I couldn’t feel unwell. I have been Lexapro (10mg daily) for 4.5 years. I am not sure if it helps or not. But i take it, and I have never stopped. I have seen three different therapists in the hope of helping me deal with my panic and anxiety disorder, and what seemed to be my agorophobia.
At my worst, I couldnt pop down the shops, just a two minute drive away. I never went in the car with anybody, not even my partner. He would drive separately to thinks just so I could avoid being caught out in public.
In April 2013, my partner proposed to me. In May 2013, my close friend asked me to be her bridesmaid. How was I going to go in a car to the weddings? How was I going to walk slowly down an aisle and not want to run away and be on my own somewhere comfortable? It was time to bust my butt and do something! I tried meditation, I tried a prescription of Valium, I tried drinking champagne a lot before we had to go out! I was getting frustrated with my therapists who would teach me how to deal with an episode once it started, not how to stop having them in the first place. Being assured that if it ever happened in public, people would help me and not judge me was helpful, but it didnt stop me from having a panic attack, or getting so anxious i felt the need to escape.
A few months ago I signed up for the Panic Away newsletters. I decided to purchase the treatment once I realised all the self-help books I was reading and the relaxation exercises were not working.
For the last three months, I have not stopped myself from doing anything. I walk my dog every night. I go in the car with family and friends. I look forward to my friends wedding and my wedding, instead of dreading them! I am not going to pretend that I do all these things without any sign of anxiousness. Sometimes on walks I can feel my hands start to tingle and I know its time to start counting down. Sometimes I have anxious thoughts about whether or now I should eat before I go out, or if perhaps I should drive myself to dinner… but I dont let them stop me.
Panic Away has literally changed my life. I am happy, relaxed and excited for things for the first time in a long time. My partner, family and friends dont have to do everything the way I plan to make myself feel better, we can be spontaneous! I cannot recommend and thank Panic Away enough. I dont have the words.
What a fantastic success story. Thank you for sharing it with us Stephanie! Do you have a story you would like to share? Please leave us a comment below!