Wednesday, 18 May 2016

GUEST BLOG - Amy Clement - Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Hi all!
Here's my very first guest blog by the very lovely and talented Amy Clement.
Thank you to Amy for being my first ever guest blogger - very much appreciated!!

Still looking for guest bloggers so if you're interested, please get in touch.
Particularly looking for guest bloggers with other mental health problems - drop me a message on Facebook or Twitter

Amy Clement is a 21 year old female living and working in London. She has suffered on and off with various types of anxiety and panic attacks since the day she left home for Uni back in 2012.

"Hi all
Big love to Suzy for starting up this fabulous blog and for giving me the opportunity to write an article.
I haven't written anything like this before and I have a lot I want to say so apologies if it's a bit all over the place!

The anxiety side of things started off as health anxiety, every twinge made me worry and every headache made me scared and I was back and forth from the doctors constantly seeking an answer.
I had zero understanding of anxiety and panic disorders at the time and looking back I wasn't actually aware that I was suffering. I found myself feeling very alone and very home sick, I was often upset and I had trouble sleeping.
Since then my anxiety has morphed and developed into something more complex although feeling unwell can definitely trigger my anxiety and panic on a bad day. It can range from a few anxious thoughts to a racing mind that's out of control with a full-blown panic attack. Sometimes it builds up and sometimes it pops up out of the blue making it difficult to control. It's a bit of a roller coaster to be honest!

Panic attacks are scary things and I have learnt that there is no specific formula that defines one, mine are always different and they're different to other people's.
I've had many encounters where I have believed I was going to drop dead, I have imagined local newspaper headlines following my unexpected death which is a horrible thing to go through and I do often feel stupid afterwards.
The anxiety builds and builds and I end up freaking out so badly.
More recently I have been worried about losing my mind, I'm scared of being scared and I fear the unknown. I am a successful, ambitious, active and sociable 21 year old and I have so much to be happy about.
I am aware that anxiety often begins because of abusive relationships, illness, stressful jobs and trauma and I am so blessed to not have gone through these but it goes to show that anxiety can affect anyone - just because someone looks okay doesn't mean they aren't battling WW3 in their head.

My anxiety manifests itself in so many ways, sometimes my mind races but I have no physical symptoms, sometimes I get adrenaline surges, sometimes I think I'm literally going mad, sometimes I can't sleep but sometimes I could sleep for England, sometimes I feel sick, sometimes I lose my appetite, sometimes I feel like I'm going to pass out, sometimes I can't focus and sometimes I just cry.
For me, a panic attack is basically like being hormonal and having to run a marathon with no training whilst being chased by an angry giraffe with a gun after being hunted by a shark in a pool of golden syrup after sitting an exam determining your life forever and ever and smashing your iPhone whilst bumping into your ex boyfriend. This is obviously a strange way to put it but sometimes I find comfort in making fun out of myself!!
If you don't suffer, imagine being so scared of something that you couldn't focus on anything else, something life changing that you can't shift from your mind and it could happen imminently but it might not. On top of that you may suffer an ever changing pick 'n' mix of uncomfortable, painful and upsetting physical symptoms like a racing heart, unusual breathing, lightheadedness, depersonalisation, a temperature, shaky hands, chest pains.... Oh and then you realise giraffes don't have hands so you feel a bit silly.
My newest symptom is feeling 'weird'. It's like I am not actually here, like there's a barrier between me and the world. My hands, mouth and legs can feel a little numb and disconnected which freaks me out and causes panic. It's such a vicious cycle! I googled the sensation and found it described as 'de-personalisation' and supposedly it's your body's way of coping with extreme anxiety, errrrrr thanks but no thanks! It just fuels my anxiety further.

I always feel better knowing I'm not alone.
When I first read Suzy's blog I couldn't believe that she accurately described a symptom that I have been suffering with for ages that I haven't been able to describe!! And I would never wish any of these issues upon anyone but it's important to know you're not the only one and don't feel guilty for finding comfort in it.
It can also be good to link up with someone who goes through similar things to you and just be there for each other when you need someone to chat to who understands.

Unfortunately there is no miracle cure, but I have learnt a lot that makes it all much better:
1) a good book. Completely immerse yourself in it and give your mind a break. Some people find jogging or yoga has a similar affect. Exercise is also hugely important, it releases endorphins and helps to balance your hormone levels and it also provides a good distraction.
2) be open and honest. Tell your family and friends that you're suffering, don't suffer in silence, it's amazing how much a few supportive words from someone you trust can reassure you. My mum can tell me I'm fine and I believe her and I relax, it's amazing!
3) accept it. Let it happen, I was once told to just ride the anxiety and learn from it each time. Just remember it won't hurt you and it will pass.

If you have any questions or you just want to chat about stuff OR you have a miracle cure then don't hesitate to contact the blog and ask for my email. Massive thank you for reading and I hope that I have informed or reassured you in some way.
All the best! Xxxxxx"

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