Our PT opens up about mental health and anxiety

by Andy Le-Hair in News

anxiety| mental health

If you’d have told me 10 years ago that I could become a gibbering wreck overnight, I’d have laughed in your face.

Now – many years and much more experience later, I can relate to every single person suffering from mental health issues.  I have been there.  I have the t-shirt.

My issues started on the back of a simple allergic reaction.  I took some diclofenac (an ibuprofen-based painkiller) because of some back issues, my body got very upset about this and I was driven away in an ambulance with many corporate suits watching the whole episode.

What has this got to do with anxiety?

Two allergic reactions later and this triggered some pretty hefty anxiety-based panic attacks in me. This is my story and how I dealt with it.

I didn’t really feel that I got that much support from the GP or the NHS services.Trying to explain to a doctor how you feel when you don’t know yourself is hard. It was even harder to control the attacks I was suffering. Many got so bad that ambulances had to be called.

Sat in my car halfway between London & Leicester on the A43 calling 999 made me realise that I had to make some serious lifestyle changes and fast.

Some of the things I looked at were the substances in my system that weren’t helping the attacks – nicotine, caffeine, fatty foods, etc.

So – number 1 task – I quit smoking after 25 years!  (I’m still proud of that now)

I then looked at my diet and caffeine intake. I cut out all caffeine drinks – tea, coffee, etc. By doing this and looking at my lifestyle and my eating and drinking habits, I was able to combat part of the problem. But it didn’t solve everything.

What I didn’t have was anyone who understood. Who knew what I was going through. Who was on my journey with me. So, I visited online sites such as www.nomorepanic.co.uk and www.mind.org.uk. These helped me as I knew others were going through exactly the same thing!  Seeing that others were suffering the same as me was a relief. It helped me to find techniques and tools to deal with the attacks when they grabbed me by the throat, made my heart hammer through my chest wall and filled my body with so much adrenalin that it didn’t know how to cope.

I learned that everything I did could contribute.  Breathing.  Eating.  Drinking.  What you watch on TV and when you watch it.

I got attacks mostly when I was doing the two things I loved – driving and sleeping. When I was supposed to be relaxing, my brain had other ideas!

By looking at these sites, speaking to people, making those lifestyle and diet changes, it all helped to bring it under control. When they do happen, I can control them and get through them without assistance.

Mental health issues are still seen as a taboo subject even at a large corporate company I worked for at the time, I couldn’t reach out and talk to people.  The stigma was attached that you were weak, couldn’t cope or were having a breakdown.

That was 10 years ago.

I like to talk about my attacks, my mental health in the hope that if it just helps one person, then I have done some good.  If anyone is suffering, please please talk to me.  I’m more than happy to spend time with you, listening and sharing experiences without judgment.