I was 13 when I started having panic attacks and, as a true millennial, I went straight online to see what was happening to me and what I could do to help. Therapy was one of the first things I saw and I instantly thought ‘god no!’. I’m not sure what put me off, but I just knew that wasn’t something I ever wanted to experience.
So I muddled along, trying yoga, meditation, deep breathing and none of it was really helping to stop my anxiety. I was still having panic attacks. As I got older, they became more frequent. At the time, I tried to be okay with it. I told myself the panic attacks weren’t pleasant, but they definitely weren’t awful. And I was okay with the little routine I kind of carved out for myself. I accepted that I’d always have panic attacks and that’s that.
It was only when I attempted suicide at 16 that my parents intervened and pushed me to go to therapy. I was so incredibly nervous. I thought she’d think I was a crazy teenager and give me dozens of drugs that I’d never remember my own name.
But I went and it was fine. My parents came for the first session, which was a massive help. I’m lucky that I’ve always had a very supportive family that have always done their best to help me. I don’t think I’d have had the guts to go on my own. My parents gave a brief history to the therapist and then we arranged my next session.
I continued to go to therapy, but it wasn’t helping. After I got home, I felt dreadful and I was panicking worse than ever. It got to the point where I was flat out lying to her so I wouldn’t have to admit to myself and her that I wasn’t okay. Eventually, because of the lies I was telling her, she signed me off and said I had made massive improvements.
So for another year, I muddled along on my own and I did start to feel a bit better. I re-enrolled in college and was making progress. But as most things go, I did get worse. Most of my anxiety manifests itself within education. And going back to college helped get my life back on track, but it also was causing anxiety. I had a month off college, I just couldn’t cope going in. Once again, my mother encouraged me to go to therapy again. Instead of going the NHS route and have a therapist assigned to me, we decided to go private and pay.
This time, possibly because my parents were paying, I didn’t lie. I told her everything. It was difficult and sometimes really upsetting, but it was important to me to get better this time. I also get on much better with my current therapist and my sessions are in her home rather than an office, which suits me much better.
My therapist now is more like a friend. We discuss all aspects of my life, and I truly feel she is invested in me. I can email her whenever and I’m never scared of telling her something. I’ve been seeing her for nearly a year and this year I’ve made the most progress. I finally feel I’m at a place where I have accepted myself and my mental illness. And I now understand that the panic attacks and me aren’t one.
Therapy isn’t for everyone, but I do think it’s always worth a try. I don’t think I’d be where I am now without my therapist. She’s helped me in ways no one else could. It can seem a scary concept and sometimes you try it and really don’t enjoy it.
But I would encourage you to try again with a different person. Not everyone gets on with everyone and this also includes medical professionals. If your therapist isn’t working for you, change and try again. Your recovery is always about you, and if they’re a decent person, they shouldn’t take it personally.
It’s also worth mentioning that going to therapy isn’t something to be ashamed of. If you need help, you shouldn’t feel scared to get it.
Has anyone else had a similar experience? What are your thoughts on seeking therapy? Leave a comment below!
Edited by Viveca Shearin