My mum had been looking for relief from her persistent attacks of diverticulitis for many years when she was finally diagnosed with a serious illness. Although we were relieved to have an actual diagnosis, we were all incredibly shocked. Having come close to losing her exposed us to a number of things none of us were ready for. Mum needed a surgery, a stay in hospital, and a care program that we’d all need to help with.
We’d come so close to losing her that anything we could do for her afterwards was a bonus. I thought we’d all be fine, and that we could just get on with life. But then weird things started to happen to me, and it was apparent that not everything was fine. I couldn’t sleep, often for entire nights. If I did sleep, I’d wake suddenly, drenched in sweat and terrified for a reason I couldn’t explain. The crux came when I was driving to pick up a friend to see a show and I was suddenly paralysed in fear. I couldn’t draw breath. I felt like even daring to breathe would somehow cause a terrible accident. Thankfully I recognized what was happening as a panic attack. I knew at that moment that it was time to see a psychologist. Thankfully, I’d studied CBT a little and learned along the way that there was no rhyme or reason to panic attacks emerging. I’d just been holding up way too long. I pulled over and set things in motion.
This background understanding came in handy, and I went to my GP knowing what to ask for. I was immediately looped in with a fantastic therapist. Mornington has a reputation for quality mental health care and I’m thankful that I live close by.
It’s been almost three years since the panic attack in the car and I am far better now, with the help of my psychologist in determining what is my break point. Managing my mums illness has meant a far better understanding of what pushes me into a panic zone, and how not to make that zone big and bad enough to go on for days, as it did after mum was diagnosed. These understandings can also be applied to everyday life, and I feel more in tune with myself and others than ever. It was truly a horrible time, but I’m ok now. In fact, I feel like I’ll always be ok, no matter what, as long as I remember how to manage the panic.