A year after i'd had Judah, my second, i was in the car travelling home after a weekend away. Matt was driving and i had 3yr old Ralph and 1yr old Judah in the back. Nothing out of the ordinary was happening, Matt and I were chatting, i can't even recall what about... I started to feel like my bra was almost too tight and I started to struggle breathing. For a while i tried to ignore it and kept on chatting but there came a point where i couldn't ignore it anymore.
My hands went numb, my legs went numb and i couldn't breathe, my chest was tight and painful. I assumed i was having a heart attack and in that moment i thought i was going to die. I asked Matt to find the nearest A&E. It sounds crazy now thinking back but it always does when you're not in that place. I asked Matt quietly to look after the boys and keep them safe.. they were asleep in the back, i really didn't think i'd make it.
We pulled into A&E, Matt grabbed a wheelchair, i couldn't walk and a nurse came and wheeled me in while Matt carried both the boys. I was taken straight through and given oxygen, also an X-ray for a suspected blood clot due to my symptoms as i had never displayed any signs of anxiety or panic attacks.
I soon felt calm and safe with all the medical team around, the oxygen was also helping me to regulate my breathing. There wasn't any panic in the room, just lots of friendly faces looking like they knew what they were doing. They reassured me that i was going to be OK. Within an hour the symptoms had become so mild that i would never have gone in, thats when a Doctor came in and explained that i'd had a panic attack. At the time this was completely alien to me, i didn't even really know what a panic attack was and definitely didn't understand how i'd just had one. I wasn't panicked or stressed or feeling anything in particular really, it was just a normal day, a normal drive home. I left the hospital feeling confused and thinking maybe it was just a one off, maybe i just needed to make sure i ate more.
It wasn't a one off, and following that panic attack, from then on i'd have them almost daily. I lost who i was, i felt anxious most of the time and Matt had to come home from work constantly as i couldn't be alone. I was afraid of everything, it could be as small as banging my finger, i would then spend hours obsessing and staring at it. I don't fully know what i thought would happen, but whatever it was, it was going to be bad. I was in a dark place, i was frequently in hospital, hyperventilating, being given gas and air, as well as oxygen in order to calm down.
Seeing friends was hard, i tried my best to hide it, i didn't think anyone would understand, and instead just think i was crazy. Over that time i had numerous illnesses and infections, pluracy being one of the worst, i had also been given countless antibiotics.
After another hospital visit i decided i needed to see a Doctor. My Doctors notes were sky high, there were just so many instances. I was embarrassed so i asked Matt to come with me, the Doctor proceeded to ask Matt if this was normal for me, i sat there in tears as i always did when at the Doctors. I was in tears wondering what had happened to me and could anyone fix me, would i ever feel OK again.
Matt told the Doctor that it was normal for me and that he felt like he couldn't remember a time that i wasn't like this, it had been so long, but if he thought about it, it had been a year. Judah was now two and Ralph was four.
Part of my anxiety was a fear of medication, so i didn't want to take the tablets she prescribed. I felt hopeless. I found dealing with anxiety so difficult, i didn't know what each day would bring, when a thought took hold there was no stopping it, i just had to ride the wave. Matt had now taken so much time away from our business that we had started to lose money.
Some days were better than others, watching the boys play together was my little ray of hope. As fast as it came, it left, Judah was almost three. I realised i hadn't panicked or felt anxious in a while, i didn't again until after the birth of Hunter. When Hunter was 2 and a half i was probably in the best place i have ever been mentally, everything seemed to be as it should and me and Hunter loved our time together when the older boys were at school.
When i found out i was pregnant with the twins, i was a little worried but I have actually felt good so far, I've probably only had one day of mild panic. I think i have learnt ways to cope and recognise the signs.
Anxiety can make you feel completely alone, but so many more people struggle with it than we know. I think i just needed to get over the embarressment and realise its ok not to be ok.