I remember my first anxiety/panic attack like it was yesterday.
I had just finished work and was driving home when I got to a set of traffic lights all of a sudden I could feel my heart racing, my hands were shaky and I had pains in my chest.
I didn’t know what was happening so I drove home as fast as I could. I was so scared.
When I eventually got home my fiancé and my mum were home. My mum had been looking after my daughter who was then only 2 years old.
My mum had cooked us all dinner and we were just about to sit down and eat when I could feel my heart racing again.
I ignored it and took one bite of my dinner and I had to rush to the loo.
I was sick, shaky, and sweaty and I didn’t know what was happening.
I came back downstairs and rejoined my family. I picked at my dinner but again I had to excuse myself as I was sick again.
I assumed I had a sickness bug or it was something I had ate so I didn’t have anything else to eat the rest of the night which wasn’t a bad thing as I was in a right state.
I couldn’t stop the shaking and I couldn’t stop crying.
My chest was hurting and I honestly thought something bad was happening. I took myself off to bed and just held my fiancé’s hand all night.
I remember saying to him ‘I’m scared I’m going to die’ I then eventually fell asleep.
When I woke the next day I was extremely shaky and the thought of eating anything made it worse.
I attempted some cereal but only managed a few spoonful. I was due to go into work but I just couldn’t face it.
I rang and told them I was sick and I’ll be back the next day.
I spent the whole day shaking and barely eating as every time I put something in my mouth I felt like I wanted to be sick.
A few weeks went by and this was still happening.
I was still getting the chest pains and I just couldn’t get that first night when this all happened out of my head.
I went to my local walk in centre and explained the situation, the nurse checked my chest and told me all was fine.
Maybe it was just stress related however, I knew I wasn’t stressed.
Anywhere I accepted that everything was ok and I tried to carry on like normal.
The next few weeks where awful. My fiancé and I went to eat out a couple of times.
The first time I was fine but the next time we went out I had another panic/anxiety attack in the restaurant.
I had to leave my fiancée sitting there eating while I went and sat in the car trying to calm myself down.
Again I was shaking, sweaty, crying. I still couldn’t eat much without thinking about the night I was sick but said I will be fine nothing to worry about.
That’s when the avoiding going out to eat started.
My mum came over to see us and she started saying she was worried about me as I was looking pale, drawn and I wasn’t my usual bubbly self even though I was trying my hardest to be for my daughters sake but my mum said it’s like I just wasn’t in the room.
Even though I assured her I was fine she then suggested seeing the doctor.
I was feeling emotional and scared of what he was going to tell me and he ended up saying it sounded like I had had a panic/anxiety attack.
He put me on a short course of medication and to come back if I needed to.
The medication was great (at first.) After a week I started to feel myself again and I was able to eat absolutely fine.
I was so pleased.
Then one night it dawned on me that I didn’t want to be on tablets for the rest of my life, especially for something so silly like being able to eat.
So I weaned myself off them and began to do things my own way.
I still felt great for a while and thought I had smashed it. Then bam one night it all came back and I was back to square one.
I went to the docs again for another 3 rounds of medication. During this time I fell pregnant with my second daughter.
We were thrilled to bits but deep down I was so worried incise all this came back.
I decided to stay on the medication until I had my daughter in 2012. Everything went perfect and she was beautiful.
After a few weeks I wanted to come off the medication and try things without them again.
It was all going great until again it hit me. I couldn’t understand why this was happening.
I had started avoiding eating in public in case I was sick/gagged on my food, I started to dread family gatherings especially if it involved eating in front of people.
I just didn’t want people knowing and the embarrassment I would feel if I had to leave the situation because I was having another panic attack.
My life began to suck.
I was forever making up excuses not to eat out or I would plan outings just for the mornings or afternoons so I could eat at home beforehand.
This went on for months and slowly my life was becoming a misery. My girls were growing up and I was missing out on so much.
I then decided to search the internet to see what was going on with me and if there was other methods of help.
I tried various other therapies from CBT, BWRT, EFT, Hypnotherapy but nothing seemed to really help not how I wanted them to anyway and they were all costing me a fortune.
It was only after scrolling on my Facebook page back in September 2016 that I saw a sponsored page pop up called DARE.
I read the little explanation that came up on my newsfeed and thought it was too good to be true but I’ll click on it and read more.
Well I can happily say I am so glad I did.
It mentioned that the book came with audios and all the fantastic reviews it had I thought I have to try it.
I downloaded it on my Kindle and I read it within a day. I couldn’t put it down it was as if it was talking about my life.
The further I got through the book the more excited I was to try it.
I began doing the steps the very next morning. I was a little apprehensive and I was quite a skeptic but I gave it my all.
I didn’t see much improvement in the first few weeks and I had to keep reminding myself that these things are not a quick fix and to be patient.
I had reread the book another few times between then and listened to the audios several times round.
Until I was eventually seeing some improvement.
I can now happily say that I’m eating again in public, in restaurants and in front of other family members.
Don’t get me wrong I had to DARE my arse off on all occasions as my main sensation seemed to be shaky hands and the ‘what if I gag I front of all these people’ but each time this happened I just went with it and did the DARE steps in my head.
I find the best step for me is the run towards and 9 times out of 10 once I have said those important words of ‘I’m excited by this feeling, I’m excited to be here, to be eating out’ and then I engage, all sensations seem to fade away.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not at all recovered but I feel I’m close to it. I’m yet to have any major setbacks but I now know if they are to happen it’s totally normal.
Thanks to DARE I know now in my heart of hearts that I can do this it’s just a matter of not letting anxiety stop you AND most importantly to drop the resistance as I can see from writing this that is what kept me in the loop of anxiety for so long.
So for anyone reading this please believe me when I say if I can do this you sure can and I now live with a quote on my bedroom wall that says ‘You only get one life, so get out there and live it’ thanks to DARE that is what I am doing and intend to keep doing.
Here I am enjoying a beautiful meal out with my family!