I was around 15 years old when I started to experience the scariest thing that had ever happened to me - panic attacks.
They came out of nowhere when I was at school and made me feel like I was trapped in the classroom, making me feel hot, sweaty, extremely sick, faint and like I either had to escape or I was going to die.
But when they first started to happen, I had no idea that this was anxiety or panic attacks. I thought I was unwell and that the doctors were missing something whenever I went for blood tests and described my symptoms.
“Have you ever had therapy?” My teacher said to me one day after a particularly bad day at school.
Therapy?! I thought That was for people who had mental health issues.
I wasn’t one of them. I thought that my panic attacks were a phase that I would just get over and grow out of. I thought that there was no real explanation of why they were happening, they just were!
Although I wasn’t focused on the reason why my panic attacks were happening, I was desperate for some help on how to overcome them and get back to “normal.” My goal was so simple, go just get through a single day at school and to feel like everyone else.
I had missed so much of school by this point and found it extremely hard to leave the house. Home was safe, secure and a comfort to me. Just doing a normal task like going to the shop felt too overwhelming.
But as I started therapy with a school counsellor, I found myself learning techniques to help bring me out of the panic attack. It helped massively and soon enough, I was back to my old self, thinking I had defeated anxiety forever and that I would never have a panic attack again!
However, as I got older, went to uni, graduated and found full time work, adjusting to change and navigating life in my early 20’s brought up anxiety again.
I was in a job I hated and found myself dreading going in every day - feeling the exact same way I had felt at school.
It got so bad that I ended up having a breakdown and phoning my doctors, where I was placed on a waiting list for CBT - Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.
Again, this helped me to an extent and I was reminded of the tools that I already knew I had inside me to overcome my panic. My therapist wondered why I ever needed it in the first place and I was quickly discharged.
Although my 2 therapists had been positive experiences, I felt like I wanted to know more about my anxiety and get to the bottom of why I started to have it in the first place. Where did it all come from?
I felt like the therapy sessions I had before were rushed and like I wasn’t listened to, because I appeared to get better quickly, they were short term fixes. I wanted to know more.
This is when I started to look into private therapy.
I found a great therapist who helped me with the anxiety I was currently feeling and we began to dive into my past and discuss the reasons why I felt this way.
Then, COVID happened and I was furloughed from my job, eventually quitting when it all became too much. I couldn’t afford to keep up the payments for our sessions and as it was harder to see her because of lockdown, it fizzled out.
A year on and I began to notice my anxiety creeping into my life again, showing itself in new ways this time, such as intrusive thoughts and just general worry about everything.
I had dealt with panic, but this was different and I didn’t know how to cope. I felt overwhelmed and lonely, feeling like I needed to speak to someone about my thoughts and be reassured that I wasn’t a bad person.
That’s when I was scrolling on LinkedIn, and came across InspireUK.
I couldn’t believe how quickly I was put into contact with my therapist and how affordable it was! It felt too good to be true to find a therapist that really listened to me, that I could take my time with and that didn’t make me feel like our time was limited, like my previous experiences.
Being able to talk about my past trauma and how it has shaped me today has been eye opening for me.
Starting therapy can be so daunting and scary, especially when I felt like I hadn’t found someone who was right for me. I was apprehensive to tell my story to new people again and again, but my therapist made me feel really comfortable and heard.
I love therapy because it connects the dots and makes me realise why things are happening and why I’m reacting that way. It made me realise that I’m just a human, trying to figure everything out, the same as everyone else. It also made me realise that I am so much stronger than I think. I have dealt with my mental health time and time again and continue to come out on top.
I’m still learning things about myself with every session and I love that I get to pick and chose when I get to speak to my therapist. It’s on my terms and I really feel like I’m in control. I couldn’t praise InspireUK enough. The work they do is crucial to make therapy accessible for everyone!
For more information on how you can gain access to our mental health support email firstname.lastname@example.org
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*We have used an anonymous name to share the the story from one of our previous services users to protect her identity.