Blog Written by Elaine Hughes
Having a panic disorder is quite easily one of the most scariest and loneliest things that has ever happened to me. I was diagnosed with the condition in September 2018. Even though I am a bit of a worrier, I had never experienced severe anxiety or panic, or heard of this condition before and had no idea how to treat it, or if there was even treatment available.
One of my scariest thoughts at the start was ‘will I be like this forever’. The panic attacks were just awful, and I couldn’t leave the house for fear of suffering one outside on my own. I normally walk to work everyday and run three times a week, so to be stuck in doors was so unlike me. I knew this was out of character, but I just didn’t know what to do about it. The doctors had prescribed anti anxiety tablets and beta blockers, but they didn’t seem to be doing anything.
Then (thankfully) my luck changed, after weeks of what I can only be described as living in a horror movie, a work colleague of my partner, recommended a therapist for CBT. Even now, I look back on this day and smile, because it was the start of becoming me again. I had never experienced anxiety or panic before, so had never looked into CBT, so on my first session I had absolutely no idea what to expect. To begin with my therapist explained what was actually wrong with me, and what was happening to me. Just that basic explanation made the world of difference. My therapists knowledge and explanation of a panic disorder and anxiety was so easy to follow, she set it out so it related to my life and my problems. We identified the problem areas and step by step we worked out how to beat them.
There were several times outside of my sessions, when I would carry out the techniques that I had been given and at times, I felt like stopping and laughing, it was amazing how what my therapist had explained to me was falling into place in my real life, and more importantly everything she taught me was working on beating the disorder.
I have to correct myself now, because I thought the panic disorder was the worst thing that ever happened to me, BUT it was the opposite. The panic disorder lead me to my therapist and the experience of CBT and they have both changed my life. It is now 9 months since the panic disorder started and I HAVE BEAT IT!!!! I DID IT!!! And not only have I beaten it, but I put into practice the CBT techniques in my every day life and although I’m the same person as before, I now live my life without the little stresses and niggly worries that would take up my time. I’m more organised, more relaxed, unbelievably happy, and can manage stressful situations easily. I never thought i'd describe myself this way. I can honestly say that having panic disorder has brought out the best in me. Reaching out for help from a therapist that delivers CBT can not only help you to beat it, but it can leave you with a brand new positive life. Understanding the link between our thoughts, feelings and behaviours has been an eye opener for me! After all this time, I still don’t have words for how grateful I am to my therapist for what she did for me.
A huge thank you to Elaine for writing this Blog. Elaine wanted to share her experience, to offer hope to others in a similar situation.