Saturday, 16 May 2015

Anxiety & Agoraphobia For Mental Health Awareness

Hello readers, I wanted to touch on a different subject today which has been affecting my life in the past year, and with Mental Health Awareness Week/Month, I wanted to share my story in an attempt to raise more awareness about it, that your not alone, and also some tactics which may help you if you know someone who suffers from these conditions.There is a youtube video of me talking about this which is here, but if it makes you feel uncomfortable watching someone talking about it(I know how it feels too), I would advise reading this blog post :)

My Story:

I was diagnosed with severe anxiety in May 2014, after an incident that triggered repeated panic attacks.Suffering from them during my teens, doctors told me that it was normal,and that I should "just get on with it".Finally getting some form of closure of being diagnosed with anxiety disorder,I'm now on the road to recovery.The next 6 months included me being on medication to help me feel more calm and reduce some of the symptoms before having an attack (which I will explain later on), having a therapist and attend anxiety class's.All of these worked great for me personally and I was signed off by my therapist, but was still offered support if I needed it, and my medication dosage was reduced.

Unfortunately in Decemeber 2014, I had a relapse due to things outside of my control or in other words "Life"and had to go back on a higher dosage of medication to help control my anxiety once again.Little did I know, due to avoiding the main town centre where I would frequently have panic attacks, I started to develop Agoraphobia which I wasn't aware of until February.Avoiding a place where you have attacks may at first make sense, because your scared of having another one, being around people, scared of getting back home or a number of things we're all different, but when you start avoiding that place completely, you may start to develop Agoraphobia and where I left this going on untreated, I started to stop going to the shops which are 5 minutes from my house to not leaving the house all together.

Talking to my therapist about this subject again last week, we both agreed on something that I had pointed out about it.There was one time where I didn't leave the house just over 3weeks, that's nearly 28 days being stuck indoors.During that time period I had zero panic attacks but only small bouts of feeling anxious.Psychologically, where I stayed in that situation of feeling "fine", my brain went throught the process of "ok if I stay like this I will have zero panic attacks" and it creates a safety box and made my body feel safe like this by not going out.This opened my eyes a lot more to this and I knew I needed to break out of this routine.I also found the medication I was taking for my anxiety also made me exhausted to the point I couldn't get out of bed, so a mixture of anxiety draining you and medication can be another reason why you might be constantly tired and may not be down to agoraphobia.

One of my best friends who has been supporting me through it since day 1, suggested we go to the park just up the road from me to relax for 30minutes then for me to come home.All night I was worrying about having an attack and the morning came and I was so scared.In the first 10 minutes of being in the park with her, my brain was focused on "your gonna have an attack!", then my friend started talking about a subject that really caught my attention and I ended up staying in the park for 2 hours and completely forgetting about my anxiety!It felt amazing and the next few days after that I ended up staying out 4-5hours so it is achievable!Its just your brain being a little bitch!
Don't expect to be able stay out for long hours or go to an area where you feel anxious straight away, just take baby steps, I know you want to achieve it straight away going full out because I've been there too, but sometimes it doesn't always work you just need to build yourself up to it, if I can do it, you can to, not matter how long it takes

Everyday can still be a challenge, but knowing that your not the only one suffering from it and knowing that there is help out there can put your mind at ease.Talking to a friend, family or someone who is trained in this can really help you.If you don't feel like talking to any of those people, you can talk to me, because we are both going through the same thing, whether if its different symptoms or just finding a way to cope, it feels reassuring to talk to someone that knows how you feel.

Panic Attack Symptoms:

Panic attacks are absolutely a pain in the bum.We all go through different symptoms that lead up to a panic attack and also during one as well, but we all get the same feeling which is horrible!Symptoms can range from:
-Feeling Sick                         -Muscles Tense                              -Feeling Dizzy             
-Shaking                                -Pins & Needles                             -Fear of dying,              
-Hard to breath                      -Feeling Hot                                   
-Dry mouth                            -Racing Heart

These are just examples and not all of them maybe listed here, but some of the above I personally go through and sometimes can be real hard to shake it off.I'm no doctor/GP but if you do get any of these symptoms from time to time, or in a situation where you mostly get them,I would suggest going to the doctors even if you have been before, pursue this just in case it could be anxiety as its better to get an diagnosis early and to start using techniques to calm yourself down also :)


My Friend has anxiety, what should I do?
The best thing you can do is support your friend the best you can.Sometimes they might cancel plans with you at the last minute due to there anxiety, even if they don't use it as an excuse they may feel embarrassed by it, so you must try and understand this, and to try not get mad at them either as it cannot be helped.This will take a lot of time and patience to watch your friend find there way getting better, and supporting them is the best way to do this because it honestly does help and also makes us smile knowing that your still there for us.

I see someone having a panic attack, what do I do?
This can be quite scary to see and the first instinct that comes to most of us is asking to see if that person is ok.I used to hate being asked that when in town, because despite trying to hide it, I must of made myself obvious that something is wrong which sets my body to panic even more.Normally I would respond with a sharp "NO" or "LEAVE ME ALONE" only because I needed to get out of that area and away from that person straight away, so please if you do get this, please don't take offence to it and us being rude, its because our mind is racing, and we aren't focusing on talking to anyone at that moment apart from getting away.

It can be quite hard on what you should do because you may not know if that person has been asked already by someone or to just leave them alone, but if you do see someone having one just briefly ask if there having a panic attack and if they want to be left alone.These two questions I've noticed work great because it gives that person reassurance that you know about panic attacks and they may feel more comfortable around someone that knows about them too.If that person says to stay with them, just sit with them until they calm or do some breathing techniques with them to make them feel more at ease.If that person says they want to be left alone just politely say "that's fine" and walk away.Nothing is worse than someone turning around saying "SUIT YOURSELF!" because it makes us feel bad that we've told you to go away but you need to understand what we are going through.

I hope this article has giving you some insight that Anxiety and Agoraphobia are quite serious, and that there always help out there even at times when you feel alone.I'm always here to answer questions either via the comments below which can be posted anonymously or via my email which I will post below.Hope you all have a great weekend and please share this article if you think this will help someone :)


Shanise                x


  1. This post is probably one of the most impactful for me on your whole blog. Mental health is such a serious topic and so relevant in our current time. I feel like most people don’t even realize they have some form of mental health issue, many of which are no doubt brought about by the conditions of the society around us. We tend to bury these issues under coping mechanisms and mental distractions, which just creates a temporary solution to a long term issue and obviously ignoring the issue doesn’t make it go away. I have experienced anxiety and nervousness for practically my whole life due to childhood traumas, and I have never sought professional help even to this day. I definitely developed social anxiety and this caused me to develop a habit of secluding myself from people. Once that habit formed, it compounded my issue by isolating myself which can cause an environment where depression can thrive. It seems like the battle with anxiousness/nervousness, and depression are life long battles for me., though if you met me you may not initially be able to tell. I feel like over time I’ve learned to cope exceptionally and am now in a pretty good place with it, but I know with anything if you don’t heal it properly it eventually manifests in some way. So I’ve taken the steps to begin processing these issues and I find that it really is a mostly mental thing a lot of the time. One year I was driving and suddenly I had a full on panic attack out of nowhere. If you ever watched the Sopranos, how Tony used to have panic attacks, it was just like that but I was driving. I had to immediately pull over and let all the windows down immediately. I felt many of the symptoms you mention in the post. My heart was racing and I was basically hyperventilating because I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My muscles were tensing and I felt like I would maybe die because I didn’t know what was happening. I sat there huffing for about 15 to 20 minutes until I calmed down enough and stabilized. I remember intuitively trying to calm myself down by counting in my head and trying to tell myself to relax as I went through this. It may not sound like a big deal, but definitely one of the scarier moments of my life. Since then I learned the role stress can also play on mental health. At the time I had this attack I was under a considerable amount of stress. Now I try to monitor my stress levels better. I really appreciate this post because like I said, mental health issues are on the forefront at this time and it’s time for people to start healing so that perhaps we can have a better world with less crazy people lol. But seriously, thanks for posting this. I think it’s very brave and awesome of you xx

  2. Your story is really helpful for people like me and I have come to know a lot of things about anxiety. I am going through hard times and dealing with anxiety is not an easy thing. I made a few changes in my life though but after reading your experience I would like to get in touch with a therapist now. I have changed my diet and started meditation. I also stopped smoking and recently I also ordered a vitamin B12 pen ( to help me keep the balance in my body and it is ideal for healthy brain function, memory and focus. This has bought a good change in my life. I am inspired to take more steps now and deal with my anxiety problem in a positive way. It was worth reading this post. Thank you.