You should be unashamed about your panic attacks

This article is a reader's response to Carmen Williams column, This is what a panic attack looks like.

I have always suffered from depression since childhood, but I never knew it. To myself and my family, I was just a “loner”. 

I had my first panic attack last year in May. After attempting suicide last year because of regular (2 -3 times a week) panic attacks and depression I decided it is time to have myself booked into a mental facility. It helped for the depression, but not the panic attacks.  It [the panic attacks] actually increased since I got out of hospital.  

It was brought on by different things.

I cannot go to any place with crowds of people, including church. I made a sandwich and I would get a panic attack, play with my dogs, while I’m sleeping, driving and even at work when I am put under pressure. It is one of the feelings I hate the most. I feel it coming and have tablets I can take, but sometimes I take it too late.

After a panic attack I have terrible headaches and need to go sleep it off. I have a Labrador who seems to be able to sense when I about to get an attack. He will not leave my side and when I get the panic attack, he will comfort and lick my face until the attack is over.

My doctor always tell me that nobody ever died of having panic attacks, but believe me, it feels like you are about to die. You cannot breath, it feels like you are falling into darkness, my ears are ringing, pressure on my head (feels like someone is trying to squeeze my brains out of my head), and the fear, the absolute terrible fear of something bad is going to happen. Your heartbeat goes up so much that it feels like it is climbing out your body.

I do not wish this onto anyone, not even my biggest enemy. People tend to think that you are just a good actor when you get the attack. I was actually told one day that I am drunk and should be ashamed of going to shops like that. Luckily for me, a lady realised something was wrong and helped me. I take my hat off to Amber for talking about this on the social media.

Sometimes I am to ashamed to talk about it, even to my husband because you feel like people think you are nuts and should go to the “loony bin.” Luckily for me, my psychiatrist prescribed me tablets a month ago and touch wood, I only had an 3 attacks in this month as opposed to 3 in a week.

Do you or have you suffered mental illness? Is someone close to you affected by it? Tell us your story.

If you or anyone you know seems to be struggling, contact one of these numbers:

Suicide Crisis Line
0800 567 567 FREE
SMS 31393

SADAG Mental Health Line
011 234 4837

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