I was 15 when I was referred to CXK’s Emotional Wellbeing service. I had problems with eating when I was a lot younger, although those problems had been resolved and I’d been healthy and happy with my weight for quite a while. However, I’d started to experience panic attacks and severe anxiety and it was really worrying me and my parents. I had no idea why I was having them.
When I met with my counsellor, she asked me to describe what the anxiety and panic attacks felt like. I told her about a time when a group of us went to stay at a friend’s house. I was panicking that I might not be able to finish all the food that they would give me for dinner and that if I couldn’t manage to finish it, my friend’s parents would be insulted. So I forced myself to eat everything and was sick for days afterwards.
We developed a timeline
My counsellor worked with me to develop a timeline of my ‘young life’ to look at whether there were any major events that could have triggered my panic attacks. My family life was good and I have supportive parents. My school life was also good, and I was managing well. I was also doing exercise and teaching swimming lessons.
We discussed that it might be helpful to visit my GP and have a check-up based on the physical symptoms of wanting to vomit. I did this and was given medication for an infection and for anti-vomiting. It helped so much and calmed down my panic attacks.
We looked at my relationships
We talked about my relationship with my mum, and how she would nag me for not eating enough and exercising too much. We explored how I could have a conversation with my mum and how I could help her feel less worried about my eating, which even the doctor had agreed was fine. We also talked about my relationship with my brother and how much it affected me when he went to university. I missed him a lot.
It gave me a new perspective
My counsellor taught me strategies and coping skills to manage my anxiety and panic attacks, including grounding and breathing exercises. The sessions helped me a lot, and I now feel like I have the strategies I need to help me manage my anxiety and panic attacks. I feel a lot better about my situation. I was able to talk to someone outside of my family and friends who could help me – she helped me to look at things with a new perspective and to tackle thing differently. It has made such a difference to my life.