Jamie’s story

My name is Jamie and I’m currently a Sales Co-ordinator living in Edinburgh. I suffered some health issues and general life issues a few years ago and since then I’ve been dealing with General Anxiety Disorder and a Panic Disorder.

I had a brilliant upbringing with a great circle of friends and family. I felt like I was being very ungrateful for feeling so low when I had everything I could have ever wanted. I didn’t want to tell anyone how I felt due to the fear of being judged or criticised by the people I loved. It would make me physically sick trying to work up the courage to say anything, so I’d lie in bed and wallow instead. I have suffered around two bouts of depression during this stage also which made things feel 100x worse than they probably were.

I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what was happening or why it was happening. Everyone has experienced this gut feeling of something “bad” about to happen. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. I tried for months to shake this feeling of dread and it never went away. I ended up in hospital many times in 2016 and 2017 and even though the nurses there would discuss what was going on I still felt like I didn’t have any clue what to do.

Next came the dreaded and long overdue trip to the doctors to talk about how I was feeling. I have been going to the same GP for about 20 years and felt it was the only person I could talk to without them passing judgement. It was terrible. The worst one on one experience in my life. I tried to speak but nothing came out and I just broke down in front of him. Embarrassed and feeling worse than ever before the doctor suggested I take some time from work and focus on myself. I wouldn’t do this again though, I sat around for nearly two weeks doing absolutely nothing and felt terrible for it.

A week later I was going out to a friend’s birthday night out and was feeling excited (so I thought), to the point of feeling nervous and sick. I was hot, restless and felt like the world was caving in around me. It just kept getting worse until I couldn’t feel my arms, legs or one side of my face. I couldn’t see properly and felt like I was going to die, I couldn’t breathe and had to run outside to sit down. My brain to me to keep running until it went away. I got about 3 steps outside before I sat down and broke down once again.

The previous panic attacks had never been this bad. I never wanted to go outside again. I’d find myself in this same process weekly – make plans, cancel, sit around feeling bad and letting the thoughts creep in. Sometimes I’d just completely ignore people or lie about what I was doing so I could sit at home.

A few more trips to the GP later and I’m leaving with a prescription for Citalopram, an anti-depressant often used for anxiety. I went and got them right away and looked over the information which sent me in to a panic fuelled tizzy. “Side effects may include severe dizziness or passing out, not thinking clearly, seizures, memory problems etc”. I was trying to get away from these issues, so they seemed counterproductive to me. I had heard the horror stories of them being hard to come off and was very reluctant. It took me about a week to take the first one and for the following weeks I didn’t feel any different.

I’ve been taking Citalopram for about 6 months now and for me it has been a godsend. Medicine isn’t for everyone and we are all different. Each one of us works in a different way, it’s all about finding the right method for yourself. Personally, having a routine you can stick should be the first point of call, eating right and if need be change the circles you mix with whether it be at work or in your social life. I made a few changes almost instantly, although quite hard I’ve managed to stick to them. These included:

• Sleeping – I am a terrible sleeper and have worked an okay routine out to help me sleep better even if it’s still not the best.

• Eating – Vegetables. Eat them. Lots of them. Don’t eat too late. Don’t eat processed nonsense.

• Drinking Water – We are made up of a lot of water (60% for men!) It makes a HUGE difference to your general wellbeing.

• Not relying on a person/people – You can rely on people for things, your happiness is not one of them. You are number 1, always.

• Exercise – Okay I don’t really exercise but I am less lazy than before. Even walking somewhere instead of getting the bus can help you feel like you’ve done something. This is what I need to work on.

For me the anxiety is still there but I feel I have more control over panic situations now than ever before. Life throws you curveballs all the time, especially when you’re already feeling down and out. It’s about how we tackle them. Take time to yourself. Do what you need to do to feel better. Don’t be afraid to talk and don’t be afraid to seek help. It has saved my life and could save yours too.

As much as you feel like you can run away from your problems, you can’t. Facing them head on is the only way to defeat them. It might feel like you can do everything yourself, but one small thing can be the straw the breaks the camel’s back and you’re back at the starting point.

If anyone needs a place to talk, hit me up any time. I, like others who have experienced this, encourage you to talk and get this weight off. I have found friendship in people who I barely spoke to before from letting it all out to them. You’d be surprised how good a listener a total stranger can be.

I’d like to thank WFAD for giving this platform to speak out, my friends and family who have been supportive of me and the NHS for their brilliant staff that have seen me through to where I am today. It has been a nice morning writing this all out and getting it out there, I don’t think I’ll take up a career in writing though.

Stay safe, stay strong and stay focused,

Jamie x

This post was written & submitted by Jamie Stables.

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