Hello, my name is Catherine (scaredy Cat).
Firstly, let me start by thanking you for taking the time to read my blog. I am 20 years old and currently studying Media Studies at university in London. Some of my other interests include writing, watching films, music and socialising (the good ol’ student way).
Another fact about myself, which not too many people are aware of, is that I have generalized anxiety disorder.
Just as the name of the disorder suggests, this means I am generally quite anxious a lot of the time, often for no apparent reason, other than for faulty and irrational thinking.
To someone that has never suffered a panic attack or severe anxiety, it may not sound particularly frightening, but individuals suffering an attack often feel helpless, like they’re going crazy, about to pass out or even die.
Anxiety and panic attacks are quite natural bodily responses to stress or something that we are frightened of. This is described as the ‘fight or flight’ response.
Though the fight or flight response can seem quite unnecessary in modern society, back when we were facing predators, such as wolves and bears etc, this very instinct might have saved our lives.
The fight or flight response works by raising your heart rate, in order to prepare your body to escape whatever dangerous situation it is in, caused by a sudden release of adrenaline. This leads to physical bodily symptoms which can include feeling nauseous, light headed, breathless or rapid/shallow breaths and the list goes on and on.
It is not uncommon for people experiencing these symptoms to feel scared of the symptoms (chest pains can arise from the rapid heart rate, leading to individuals to sometimes believe that they are experiencing a heart attack). Unfortunately, this fear leads to more adrenaline being released, leading to more unpleasant symptoms – and simply ‘calming down’ is a lot easier than it sounds.
I suffered my first panic attack almost 2 months ago. I was in the cinema and suddenly felt very light headed and nauseous. I was scared I might throw up or pass out and suddenly wanted to run out of the theatre.
Though I managed to stay, the feelings I had felt that evening plagued my thoughts. I didn’t understand where they had come from, and I didn’t know if they might strike at random again.
A few days later, while I was just at home in my bedroom, a sudden wave of anxiety and nausea came over me, stronger than I had ever felt before. I was terrified and confused.
I tried to make myself sick in order to relieve the nausea, but I couldn’t. I tried to relax but I couldn’t sit still. I thought I was going crazy.
Though i didn’t think I was physically ill, I called the doctor and explained that i felt extremely anxious for no reason. To be sure, he conducted some blood tests.
The blood tests came back normal, which frightened me even further, I thought ‘what’s wrong with me? When will it ever stop?’. After googling my symptoms (very risky, especially when suffering an anxiety disorder!) it became clear that a had experienced a panic attack.
It had been 3 weeks since my first panic attack and I was still feeling highly anxious. Though I understood what my symptoms were, I still felt powerless and out of control. I had also lost a substantial amount of weight due to feeling nauseous all the time, and worrying that I might be sick if I ate.
Fast forward a few more weeks and we are in the present. after contacting my GP again, I was recommended therapy. I have had a few meetings now and we are still experimenting with different cognitive behavioural therapies, in order to see what I will best benefit from.
It is still very early stages, and though I feel low at times and still feel anxious, I am hoping that these approaches might help me manage my stress more effectively.
I will use this blog to keep track of my progress and thoughts. I hope that my writing can be of some reassurance to anyone that is currently experiencing similar things – we are not alone!
Take care and I shall write soon. Lots of love, Scaredy Cat.