I had a nervous breakdown in 2006, working for a multi-national finance company. My manager was a bully – the nastiest person I had ever met that knew how to play mind games and make you feel like you were completely incapable of doing your job. I would sit on the edge of the bed and have a panic attack every morning before I even got dressed for work. I left that job before I had a chance to change my mind after feeling like I was cornered and pushed out.
I couldn’t get out of bed for 6 weeks after I left, and my flight response was in full-blown mode, so much so that the holiday we had organised overseas before I left my job was probably ruined even though my husband never said anything to me. He could see I was a wreck. It took me years to get past that first breakdown and even to acknowledge that was what happened.
Fast forward to 2011, and I started getting anxiety attacks when my mum got sick with cancer. I was running around like a crazy person, back and forth to the hospital, maintaining a household, a marriage, and managing a nine-year-old daughter. I thought I could do it all, and then it all came tumbling down. I could not function properly, I didn’t even recognize myself. My mum was my world, and I didn’t know what I would do without her. She was my best friend, my only parent because my parents split up when I was four years old. She raised me basically on her own, and I didn’t know how I would function without her. I forgot all about having a husband, a daughter, and friends and family that would help me through the tough times. I was consumed by anxiety and grief.
Now it’s 2021, we have had COVID hit, my work where I have been for 10 years has been going through some major changes, and once again I have been hit with all-consuming anxiety and this time panic attacks as well. I thought I had it under control and was able to manage it, but this time it feels different, my flight response is so strong that I just want to run to the end of the earth some days to get away from it.
Thankfully I have reached out to a psychologist who helps me work through the emotions and the thoughts that invade my head. It helps to talk to someone that has no involvement with my day-to-day life and it can help me see things objectively. It hasn’t stopped the attacks, but it has helped me identify the triggers, and try to remove them from my life.
I am by no means a finished product, I have a long way to go, but the first step to healing is to reach out for help. We cannot do it alone. If no one knows you are struggling they are unaware that you need help, even if it’s just someone to listen, to tell you that you aren’t crazy, that you aren’t alone, that there is nothing wrong with you because there are thousands of people out there with the same kinds of issues that you are experiencing.
Anxiety is very real, panic attacks are very real, and sharing your struggles with someone is a step towards recovery. Remember the old saying, “A problem shared, is a problem halved.” Reach out for help if you need it, and never ever be ashamed that you cannot manage your anxiety alone. You aren’t meant to.