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Emmas Story

I can’t remember when I had my first panic attack. I just know that I have been suffering them for years. I didn’t realise what was happening to me for, it must be around 6 or 7 years!! I am a known hypochondriac and because when I started to feel ill, I thought the worst. I have had brain tumours, cancers of everywhere. You name it, I have had it. Looking back, I’m quite sad as you have said, all them wasted years

.. I wouldn't go out, I cancelled girls nights out at the last minute. The girls stopped asking me in the end! I was afraid to go on holiday, although I have started to go again, I always have the feeling that if I'm ill, I'm so far away from home. I am terrified of dying, and the attacks just made me feel like I was about too. Supermarket queues are a classic. I have loaded shopping up on the belts and just had to leave. Fainting is also a big fear, as it was the dizziness/feeling faint that was my worst problem. I had a couple of dates with people and just had to go home as I felt so horrendous.

4 years ago, I decided that enough was enough and I had to see someone. I figured that I can't be that ill as I would have died by now. I went to see my GP, was very tearful and was referred to a psychologist (I had also been referred for blood tests, which came all clear). I was about to be treated for depression, although I did think I was depressed but was not convinced that depression was my problem. I went anyway, told my psychologist how ill I felt all the time, we got talking and I did feel better after just under a year of counselling. So I stopped going. Still though, nothing was ever mentioned about panic attacks.

The attacks started not long after I ended my counselling. I just dreaded going out of the house (my house was always very safe for me), I knew that I was going to get one. I remember once, really needing to go to the local shops, and stood behind my front door for goodness knows how long trying to figure out how well I was feeling and could I get to and from the shops quick enough to escape my illness. I didn't go, I went without what I needed.

I went back to the doctors after I went to the pub with my current partner and thought I was going to collapse, he'd just bought the drinks in and I just had to go home. That was one of the most terrifying of my attacks. I went to see the doctor again, couldn't see my own at such short notice, so I saw a locum. He asked about my work, life etc and basically told me I needed to slow down, end of story.

I was desperate knowing that there was something awful wrong that I really needed help with. I went back to the doctors the same week, a locum again but a different, very sympathetic one. She sat with me for ages, I didn't feel rushed and it all just came out. I was distraught in that room, but it was the time that changed my life. She didn't want to send me for blood tests again as the last ones were all fine. She just said to be 'you're suffering from panic attacks' and again I was referred to a psychologist. I was lucky enough to have private medical insurance with work, so I had my first session the following week. I saw this person for almost a year and he has turned my life around. I learned so much about panic attacks, most importantly, I learned that panic attacks were not going to make me die. I leant how to deal with them. I had also learnt that I was very aggressive to my loved ones (I had not picked this up in all the time I was suffering, it made me very upset, but my partner has been with me throughout and has been a very important part of my recovery, so I owe him as much as the medical profession).

I have not had counselling for a year now, and although I suffer occasionally, I know how to deal with them. Sometimes they can be quite bad and my learning just goes out the window!! I tend to suffer if I am tired, hungry or when I'm stressed.

The story from 'anon' when they walk back into their office smiling, and nobody has noticed what's happened. They don't and they won't. This happened to me too, I'd go to the toilets to see how ill I looked and I looked completely normal, so no, they won't notice. Please go and see your GP (again if you already have). There are people who can help. I really feel for you because I know exactly what you are going through.

This is just a small part of my story, I could go on for ever.

Panic attacks are awful for anyone. I think this website is excellent, for letting people know that they are not alone. I would now love to be able to help someone in this way.

Emma