This short by Aisling McNamara gives one girl’s experiences with anxiety and panic attacks. It was second runner up in the 2013 Inspire a Generation film competition.
My story transcript:
About a year and a half ago, after a stressful period in my life, I experienced my first panic attack. At the time I didn’t know what a panic attack was. My heart began racing, my whole body shaking, and I felt a fear I’ve never experienced before.
After the first attack I never really felt normal again. I felt like I’d been left in a kind of constant state of anxiety, living in fear of the next attack. This fear consumed me, and I stopped being able to do the things I enjoyed, I began to become isolated in my own mind.
I became a regular visitor to A and E, and to my GP, convinced there was something seriously wrong with me. They ran all the tests and told me I was suffering from anxiety causing panic attacks. But it didn’t go away.
It got to a stage where things got so bad I thought I had nothing to lose, and I decided to tell my parents how I was feeling. I believe this was my first step to recovery. They bought me a book about anxiety and panic attacks and I then went online and found a lot of helpful information and advice.
Educating myself on what anxiety and panic attacks were made them less scary, and the realisation that other people have experienced the same thing and gotten through it, made me feel less alone.
After researching my options I decided to start cognitive behavioural therapy. This taught me coping strategies that help me manage my anxiety and attacks. I learned to take the fear out of the attacks and experience them for what they were – bodily sensations caused my own anxious thoughts.
My therapist explained to me that millions of thoughts flow through our mind everyday, some positive, some negative. Anxiety is holding onto these negative thoughts instead of experiencing them for what they are and letting them float out of our mind.
I still experience some anxiety today, but I now have the tools in place to manage it. Slowly my life came back together and I was able to do the things I enjoy again.