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My Journey Thus Far

This page created 19 January 2014
By Anna Pedis
Remedial Massage Therapist

As I drove home from work one night, my heart began to race, I felt tingles and numbness throughout my body, my chest felt heavy, and I was really struggling for breath. “What is wrong with me? I must be dying!  I must be having a heart attack!” was all I could hear. I managed to stop the car a little down the road at a service station and staggered in trembling and terrified about what had just happened to me in the car. I immediately asked the shop assistant to call for an ambulance as something was terribly wrong with me. He took one look at me and asked me if l had taken drugs. ‘No” I answered, “please just call an ambulance.”
It felt like hours before the ambulance arrived. Shaken, I explained what had happened to me. They examined me and quite casually told me that I had had a panic attack. That day changed my entire life!
I was 27 years old, married for 2 years and enjoying my life to the fullest. The next 6 months of my life I spent indoors not being able to step outside my front door. Everything that was once so simple to do had become so hard. I couldn’t face the world anymore. What if it happened again in the car? In the street? At the supermarket? At my parents’ house? Out with friends at the cinemas? The list goes on. I stopped doing everything. l was totally terrified and only found safety in my home and with my husband by my side. Many visits to the doctors and endless tests revealed nothing was wrong with me, but at the time no one could explain what had happened to me and why I was feeling this way.
Surely there was someone who could help me? Thankfully I came across Pauline McKinnon’s Book, “In Stillness Conquer Fear” (I can’t remember who recommended it to me). I began reading immediately and bingo, l found someone having experienced the exact same thing, not that this made me feel any better. I also found a support group in my local area which l began to attend on a weekly basis where we were able to share our experiences. Through them I found the best psychologist who was able to help me through my experience; someone who was able to explain to me what a panic attack was. But most of all I had the best support from my husband who listened patiently to the fears that I felt for the many years after my first attack. Reading became a big part in my recovery, as did yoga, walking and regular massages. Today, I even attended gym classes (How terrified I was of elevating my heart just in case I had a panic attack)!
All these things I do weren’t easy to do at the beginning and I was horrified when I attended each one at the start, but with my husband’s help I persevered. Believe me, it didn’t happen overnight. It’s been about 15 years since that first attack and l think about it like it happened yesterday. I don’t think I will ever forget it but that’s ok, I just look at it differently. I persevere with it every day and if I have a bad day I just see it as everybody has bad days in their lives. I have just recently learnt to meditate on a daily basis. I attempted to do it in the past but it wasn’t working for me at the time. Now I can see how helpful it is to everyone and especially to anyone who has experienced many years of anxiety.
I think l need to mention here that just over two years ago, my nephew died from illness at only 16 years of age (my sisters first born son). This again changed my life. At the time l thought how the hell was I going to cope with something like this with my anxiety? Guess what? l did and I actually held my whole family (my parents, my sister’s family, my own family and my husband who was very close to him)  together through this devastating time.
As I write this, tears come to my eyes, not of sadness and frustration like they once did for many years, but of JOY! There are still some things I struggle with but I know deep down in my heart with a little more determination I will one day be able to do them again.
Don’t give up! Hopefully my story gives you some hope that everything will be okay one day. What’s that old cliché? “One step forward, two steps back.” Well in our case a thousand steps back! But believe me, it’s worth it.

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