In the beginning...
Updated: Aug 5, 2020
On a sunny afternoon of October 2015, on a busy London construction site, my entire outlook on life would completely change within a matter of minutes. It was my very first, of many, panic attacks. I was at my desk when a crushing pain arose in my chest. I got up and had an overwhelming feeling of dread suddenly rush through my body. I could barely see straight, my heart was thumping through my chest, I had gone pale and was almost certain I was dying. At that point I grabbed hold of my site manager and somehow managed to mutter that I had extreme chest pains and to call an ambulance. The poor man sat with me whilst we were waiting and so delicately wiped away my tears whilst constantly reassuring me (this was to be one of the loveliest things to ever happen on a construction site, surely?)
Once the paramedics arrived I was taken into an ambulance and had strange sticky things attached to my body. I was shaking, couldn't contain my emotions and was still certain I was going to die and they were wasting time with the stickers and should in fact be filling out my death certificate. I, however, was wrong (shockingly, as this never happens) and they confirmed I was in fact not dying but had a panic attack. Of course, I did not believe them and told them I had never felt such crushing pain and it must have been something physical. They started talking to me about my day to day life (retrospectively this was to calm me down, however you should never turn down someone pleasantly talking to you in London so I humoured it). We discussed my pets (at the time two cats, one recently procured called Toby who was giving my older cat problems and the older cat, Minette, who cares not for anyone but has the cutest pink nose, more on pets later).
I mentioned a week or so prior my grandfather had passed away and, due to religious reasons as well as travel problems, I wasn't able to attend the funeral. He was a big part of my life when I was growing up, and I allowed myself to be sad for a bit but got over it fairly quickly as I do with most things. All the paramedics looked at me with such a pitiful look, both feeling sorry for what had happened but more so for my complete lack of understanding as to what was happening to me. I was told to take some time off, keep calm and go to my GP to see what the best thing to do for me was going forward. I was picked up by my ex-husband-to-be (more on this later) and off we went on our way home. By this point I was petrified that what had just happened to me would end up happening again, so i was literally panicking about having another panic attack. Great.
I would like to point out before all this I was an average, perfectly content, working young woman. Someone who was incredibly strong and powered through any issues that arose. I also thought that mental health was something easy to deal with and just a spa weekend could fix depression. Again, I was wrong (god, I hate writing that). A day or two had passed, i was still continuously in and out of panic attacks. I had started to feel a sense of losing my mind, that I may be going crazy and that maybe, just maybe, this was all just a dream and I was in fact already dead and none of it was actually happening. I know, what a wild ride. I attempted to return to work the following week. This was a BIG mistake and not a good idea at all. Luckily, at the time, I had an employer who was genuinely understanding and told me to take as much time off as I needed, as well as alternate my start and end time to avoid congested public transport.
Several GP visits later, many counsellors, 1000's of milligrams of Citalopram and an unthinkable amount of research later, I'm still here. Not dead. A bit frazzled mind you, but most importantly, with an inner strength that I never knew I had. Unfortunately, in those four years life had not stopped. One dog, one marriage, one divorce, one house move, a couple deaths, two job changes, many failed dates and now a plague, life doesn't give you the time to fix your mental health on its own and then pick up where you left off. Instead it actively kicks you in the balls which is why I believe people that suffer with mental health problems and still proactively act as normal citizens should be classified as super heroes (if I do say so myself). This is why this blog has come to life, to let you know you are NOT alone. I'll share my personal experiences, the research I've come to find and the joy I've found in cooking to ease my anxious ways... as well as other small things I think can assist anyone on their turbulent mental health journey :)