On my hunt for something in the hallways cupboard (yes I have one of those hidden throw everything in cupboards), I came across a book, a book which holds so many memories good and bad and just looking at the cover brings back so many emotions.
At the age of 11, my mother gifted me the book “Living with It – A Survivor’s Guide to Panic Attacks” by Bev Aisbott. If you have ever been in a space in your life where you have felt lost, hopeless and there were just no answers to what was happening to you, I was at this space at the age of 11. This book was a lifesaver and helped me claw my way back out of that deep dark helpless space bringing me many answers I was seeking.
When I was 11 I suffered my first panic attack at the school disco (it was to the song “the Macarena” – that song doesn’t sit too well with me now). It was terrifying: –
- My heart was racing
- My palms were sweaty
- The walls were closing in
- The floors were falling from beneath me
- I couldn’t catch my breath
- I thought I was dying!
When I recovered, I thought maybe it was all in my head, maybe I was going crazy! The worst part was, they kept coming back, daily and I started to avoid places where I had the attacks. School was a no go zone, shopping centres – nope. The list kept growing and eventually my house was the only safe space. I would jump out of moving cars to avoid going there – this went on for many months. Dealing with a child with anxiety now makes me realise how much I put my mother through. You cannot force your child to go somewhere they outright don’t want to go.
Anxiety and panic disorder were not common back then as they are today. It took 6 months of psychologists, cardiologists, cat scans and seeking out other specialists to find I wasn’t going crazy and I wasn’t dying of some strange disease. I had Panic Disorder and Generalised Anxiety Disorder.
Being so young, this book related to me on so many levels. It is a simple yet informative read, comically written with cartoonish drawings giving advice on how to deal with panic attacks and anxiety. There is even a section in this book for loved ones to read and understand how to help those living with what is termed “IT”. Naturally I showed my friends and family and even my school teachers so they didn’t think I was crazy! “Living with It” is still available to purchase through most quality book stores.
This book was a lifesaver for me which led me onto studying myself and triggers for the next 20+ years and then graduating as a nutritionist helping others. Let our struggles become our strengths.
Thanks Mr “IT”