Since my first blog was published on the NewLife website 4 weeks ago you guys have given me a happy heart with all of the lovely feedback. What I’ve found most inspiring is how many people have opened up to me about their own experiences with anxiety. Having open and honest conversations about mental health is key to breaking down barriers and removing stigma. Most Doctors will tell you that anxiety is totally normal and a pretty neat tool for survival. However, there is nothing normal about the horror that comes with an anxiety/panic attack.
Over the past 4 weeks I’ve had a few friends and peers ask me about panic attacks; some out of curiosity and some who are suffering themselves. I’ve been living with panic attacks for over 7/8 years now, it’s almost become a way of life for me. I have perfected almost expert level coping mechanisms and I now very rarely have to deal with the full extent of a panic attack. This is great progress but I still need to stay on guard and be sure not to forget how truly terrifying they can be at times, especially if you have never encountered one before. I don’t remember exactly when I first started feeling anxious or even what triggered it all those years ago but I can still recall the first time I was struck with an anxiety attack.
I was still studying at University and had been off for a few weeks as I had been really ill with a viral infection. I had a couple of deadlines looming so I arranged to meet with my lecturer to beg for an extension. She took one look at me and gave me an extra week to complete my course work; although I am still slightly offended as I was much better by then, I just wasn’t wearing any makeup (insert side eye emoji face). I left the building feeling relieved and then it hit me like a bus, cheesy I know, but I had never been so overcome with pain, pressure and emotions before in my life. I had an enormous pressure on my chest, I was struggling to breath, my hands were shaking and my jumper was soaked through with sweat (It was March, in Glasgow, so it was still pretty chilly). The most embarrassing part of it all is that I couldn’t stop crying. I just kept walking, through George Square (crying), along Argyle Street (sobbing) and on the bus all the way home to Clydebank (hyperventilating).
That seems like a lifetime ago and I’ve come a really long way since then. The most important lesson I’ve learned about panic attacks throughout the years is that they end. They don’t last forever and with the right type of support you can start to take the control back. I like to think of panic attacks as a little Mogwai; if you feed it after midnight, get it wet or shine a light at it (i.e if you let in more and more intrusive thoughts) it will turn in to a Gremlin and we ALL know what a mess that can make. However, if you know how to take care of it properly, it’s really not that scary at all.
My anxiety has been pretty well behaved this week; I’ve only had one panic attack/mini meltdown and that was down to me over-obsessing over the most ridiculous thing I could. I have slept every night except one which is this year’s current record (woohoo). What did I get right this week? I’ve cut down on my sugar intake, I’m not eating any later than 9.30pm and most importantly I have seriously stepped out my exercise regime. In a bid to lose as much weight as I can in the 7 weeks before my holiday I have joined a second local gym near to my work. This allows me to go every night after work and start building on my endurance and overall fitness. Now, don’t get me wrong it is nowhere near as fun as Jill’s PT sessions. The treadmill, cross trainer and rowing machine bore the living day lights out of me so I am so excited to be boxing again tomorrow. It is remarkable how much Jill and the New Life guys have helped me with my confidence. I would have never been able to walk in to a gym and just start training before. I wasn’t even nervous, AT ALL!
I have found a new love for working out and Jill can take full credit for that. I feel really great this week and I never let my midweek meltdown set me back. I am so happy with the progress I have made so far and I can’t wait to see what Jill has in store for me over the next few weeks.
I hope you guys all have an awesome week. If anyone has any questions about what support is out there for anxiety and panic attacks I would be more than happy to point you in the right direction. Oh and once again, if any of you need a little help either starting or getting back into your fitness journey get in touch with Jill. Believe me, you will not regret it!