Personal experiences of counselling and psychotherapy
I started having panic attacks
I want to share this story because I thought I was going mad, but now I know that loads of people go through what I did. Hope it helps someone…
One morning, completely out of the blue, I had what I thought was a heart attack on the way to work. I really thought I was going to die and had to be helped off the train at the next station. That was just the beginning of it. Over the next few weeks I started having these awful attacks every day, sometimes several times a day, and I was even waking up with them. I called 999 numerous times, but all the tests they ran on me at the hospital said I was fine. The medics said they thought it was ‘panic disorder’. I had to give up work as I couldn’t get there without a drama. My GP prescribed some medicine, which helped quite a bit, but I knew the panic was still lurking inside.
I decided to go and see a local psychotherapist. This site said she was integrative and mentioned CBT and person-centred counselling and I thought this might be what I needed. I went for six sessions. What really helped was the insights I got about my body, my brain, and my whole life. I realised that I was panicking about panicking, and once I understood and believed that panic would never actually hurt me or kill me, I was calmer about it. My therapist told me about adrenaline and the anxiety response and how the body sometimes misinterprets the threats around us and sends us into ‘fight or flight’ mode at the wrong time. This made a lot of sense to me, too. I also learned about ‘diaphragmatic breathing’ which a paramedic showed me and then my therapist practised with me, and I still do this now if I feel the anxiety start to rise up. We also talked about my job, and I realised that I was completely unsuited to that type of work, and it was stressing me out.
Now I know more about myself and what I like and want to do in my life, I feel more confident about changing jobs and have several interviews lined up. Life’s looking better and I’m feeling happier again.