Because I've been a shy person throughout my life, it was hard to notice a change in myself with regards to anxiety. However, my anxiety story began at the beginning of my exams in 2012, which would have been around March. I first noticed that something was odd when I began to feel really ill every day. At first I assumed it was a virus, but soon it wouldn't go away and I constantly felt I needed to leave the classroom whilst in school. It was horrible with constant sickness, stomach aches and lack of sleep. I assumed it was exam stress, but little did I know it would continue.
I managed to go through all of my exams and my sickness began to wear off by the time the summer holidays came around. It was the best summer I have ever had. I went to the Olympics and spent long summer days with my friends. However, I still had worries in the back of my mind. One of the main worries from the Summer was sickness. In any big event or enclosed space, such as a hall or stadium I felt I needed to get out and felt really ill. I began to take paracetamol on a regular basis to try and stop the sickness, even though it had no effect - It was like a safety blanket as I begun to develop this fear of being ill in front of people.
I believe my first panic attack was on results day. I was so nervous, I couldn't breathe and was crying. I just assumed that this was nerves that got out of control. But, my panic attacks continued and I remember having several over the last few months of the year when catching public transport, going to school, driving lessons, applying for jobs, school trips and so on.
I joined the sixth form in September of 2012, and on the first day I felt really, really ill. I thought I was going to be sick everywhere. I was exhausted. But yet again I presumed it was just nerves from starting a new year. It continued quite severely for a week or so, until it began to pass off.
Due to my increasing anxiety, I begun to see a hypnotherapist in the last few months of 2012 and into 2013, who helped me greatly. Slowly, but surely my panic attacks decreased.
I was really enjoying sixth form, until I got to January. In January I had a breakdown. I got into school one day and completely panicked. I explained to my friend that I had to go and I couldn't stay. From that day in January I couldn't leave the house. I couldn't go to school, so I had to have work sent home. I couldn't answer the phone to my teachers either. I had to cancel my driving lessons and any meetings with friends. It was hell on earth. Everything that I loved was being taken away.
At that time, people thought I was really ill. I had been to the doctors a few times complaining of great stomach pain and generally feeling horrible. I had my bloods done and it turned out that there wasn't anything wrong with me; it was just in my head. In a weird way I was hoping for something to be wrong with me just so my problems could be solved.
As time moved on, I slowly managed to leave my house. I remember the first time I walked to the shop at the end of the road and remembering what an amazing feeling it was. It was only a quick trip, but I left my house and paid for something. As time continued, I managed to catch public transport, including going on the train to London with my Dad. I had to find some strength to fight the feeling that something terrible was going to happen to me. School was still a great problem. I went very little, and everyday was a physical and mental pain. My mum would take me to the school gate and I would have panic attacks every day and be crying with sadness and exhaustion. Sometimes I could go to school, but other times I would just sit outside the gate. It would be true to say that most of my A-Levels studies were spent outside of school rather than inside. Nevertheless, hard work and self teaching allowed me to get to university, although it was all a guessing game at the time as to whether I would even make it.
It got to around March and I began to go back to driving lessons. However, school was a great problem. I struggled to step inside the building without feeling really ill and exhausted. Many people hate school and find it boring, but if I could've just gone to school with ease it would've been the best thing. Each day was different. Some days I did conquer my fears, other days I couldn't
Unfortunately, In June 2013 I had a severe panic attack, one of the worst I've known and it was only a few months ago that I began to take driving lessons once more (July 2015)
Around the end of 2013 I began to have counselling and CBT on the NHS, which helped me immensely. I believe I had to be transferred to three different counselors and took some tests to find out that my most severe anxiety is health, followed by social anxiety and panic attacks. As some of you may have read, I left therapy in May 2014, which is an amazing feeling.
However, in February 2014 when my anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts were at their worst, I began to take a medication called Citalopram thanks to my Mum and I now never look back. It is the best thing that has happened in regards to this condition.
It's now 2015 and I am still on medication and continuing to battle my anxiety. Panic attacks are few and far between and I'm currently seeing a mental health mentor as part of my university wellbeing centre, which does help. I still experience bouts of depression and anxiety, but I'd go as far to say that I am almost recovered. I have almost completed everything on my anxiety hierarchy, with driving lessons and work experience set up for this Summer and starting my second year of university in the Autumn term. Looking back now, I was once in hell - a place where I had no capabilities to enjoy any aspect of my life, and now I have moved out and am living independently - a day I never thought I would ever see.
It's really hard to write about this to the wide world, but I'm doing it with the understanding that it will help others. I hope this brief overview of my anxiety story so far, has helped you to come to terms with your own. Everyday is a struggle for me, but it is just something I will have to get used to.