Fighting Fear: I Refuse To Stay Stuck. Talking Honestly About Panic Attacks and Anxiety

My head's always been a bit noisy. I'm prone to overthinking - I can't help myself. I've never really been sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing. On one hand, I think things through, I weigh up the negatives and the positives, I'm cautious and careful (though perhaps too careful maybe). I call myself Mrs Safety because I am always looking at what might go wrong in a situation. How close we are to the car in front. How small the boys' food is cut up - is it cut up too big.. or too small? How far the boys are walking ahead of me on the pavement - could a car reverse out of the driveway and not spot them? Honestly, the list goes on and on.

And then there are the things that I question myself about.. the guilt about every.single.thing is real! I'm hard on myself unnecessarily, yet my thoughts often don't give me a break. It's tiring. I can be the one in the spa sitting tensely, struggling to relax and to turn my thoughts off. I try to hold on to the moments where I do feel relaxed in my mind and when I don't overthink because they are my favourite.

Some of you will read this and you won't understand and I get that. And some of you will read this and I know that you'll be nodding along. Because the truth is is that there are so many of us that suffer from anxiety and if I know anything for certain it is that like other illnesses anxiety isn't fussy about who it affects.

Someone once (somewhat ignorantly) messaged me and told me that I don't look like the sort of person to suffer from anxiety - I seemed confident and happy. And that's the thing - I am exactly that. I'm happy, thankful, confident, content, not shy, I love life and I respect it, I don't hate myself. Sure anxiety can have a knock-on effect and knock people's outlook, but anxiety isn't about being sad.

Last week, in fact, a week today, I experienced what I think was quite an extreme panic attack and it's truly shaken me. Shaken me because it was utterly terrifying. Shaken me because I had no idea that panic attacks could come completely and utterly out of the blue like it did. Shaken me because I hadn't quite realised how physically debilitating they could be. And shaken me because I didn't realise how long the emotional and physical symptoms would stay with me afterwards for.

I spoke about everything that happened in a video that I posted on my youtube channel so I won't repeat myself here other than to say that that first extreme panic attack was like nothing I'd had experienced before. It came over my body whilst I was sitting watching TV in bed at night. It affected the left side of my body and to a degree my speech, as I struggled to say what I wanted to say. I felt like I couldn't move and like my heart was going to explode out of my chest. Having never had it happen before I believed I was having a heart attack or a stroke and my Husband passed out in the panic and lay unconscious on our bedroom floor whilst I sat in bed not able to move and get to him. In short, it was utterly terrifying.

When I think about it now I feel my chest start to tighten and my arm starts to tingle. The anxiety is very much still there. I had a second unexpected panic attack on Saturday and again it hit me out of the blue. At the time I was dancing around the kitchen with my two-year-old Son and the physical symptoms just took over my body. It took 20 minutes and lots of calm breathing before it started to pass. And again it was terrifying. My arms became heavy and I felt like I couldn't move them, I tried to fight against it by telling myself that I was in control and as I did I reached out for something that my Son was trying to give to me but I couldn't grab it. I was there but I wasn't. And no matter what I thought in my head the physical symptoms were real and they only passed with time.

I want to share my story not just because this is my blog and I pride myself on sharing the highs and the lows of life and not only because I see anxiety like any other illness and so refuse to feel like it shouldn't be spoken about. I want to share my story because I know that so many other people have been through/will go through this or similar. And I know that the biggest comfort to me during that second panic attack was knowing that it would pass because I'd received so many reassuring messages from different people telling me that they'd experienced it too or knew someone that had.

Right now, I'm trying to find strength again. It's a little hard when I still feel the physical symptoms - my chest feels like some thing's sitting on it, my arms tingle and feel heavy on and off, I feel nauseous and I'm pretty drained, to be honest. There are all the emotional symptoms too and the fear of it happening again. I haven't driven my car since as I'm afraid that it could happen again and I wouldn't be able to pull over safely. I haven't watched The Crown on Netflix since because it was whilst watching that the first one happened. I haven't listened to an album that I had listened to on both of the days that they happened in case it reminds me too much. And whilst I've replied to a lot, I haven't yet replied to all of the wonderful, kind, supportive comments and messages people have sent me (which I can't tell you how grateful I am for), because up until now after the second panic attack I've not felt brave enough to really talk about it without feeling fear and panic. Instead, I've spent days throwing myself into distraction - watching comedies and being silly with the boys.

But time moves on doesn't it? The clock moves forward the days roll by. And quite honestly I refuse to stay stuck. I have the most wonderful Husband, two beautiful boys, three cheeky but ultra cute cats. I have an amazing family and amazing friends (one who I met online doing this and has become a best friend to me). I have holidays and days out to look forward to. I have a home I feel happy in and love. I have a blog, youtube channel and social media platforms that I've poured so much passion in to and which have allowed me to find the most amazing community of people who never fail to encourage and support me and which have also allowed me to make an income and become my own boss. And equally and just as importantly I've got me, I might sometimes be too hard on myself, but I know that I'm a good person with a kind heart just trying her best to enjoy life, to smile and to laugh and to make others smile and laugh too.

So here I am.

Moving forward. Slowly and steadily.

Thank you for reading. Alex xo 

1 comment

  1. I'm really sorry to hear about your anxiety and panic attacks. I have anxiety and have had it for a long time now. I had OCD and depression in my teens and I think it started around the same time. Someone told me recently that I don't look anxious, but I do get really anxious! I don't get panic attacks so much, more constant anxiety. But I remember once I was at the theatre and I just got really uncomfortable in my chair but didn't want to move around too much and disturb the person in front of me. I started getting panicky then, just feeling sick, shaky and dizzy. And like a ringing in my ears, I think. It felt really weird.

    Thanks for sharing your story. The more people speak about these things, the easier it is for others to share and know they're not alone. :)