From the age of 16, due to a vast combination of reasons I won't go into, I developed panic attacks. I didn't have any trouble with my breathing so outwardly I'd appear fine, but I'd feel so stomach churningly sick and often was sick! I kept it hidden for 4 years and still managed to do everything my friends were doing, in fact being 17 was one of the best years of my life, really close friends, good parties to go to, lots of fun had- despite my anxious symtoms beforehand and sometimes after.

However, when me and my good friends all split up to go to different unis, my PAs got unbearable- they generalised to many different situations, and it got to the point where I'd be having anxiety every single day, sometimes to a severe extent. I lost weight because I couldn't eat properly, and became very depressed and withdrawn. I didn't make any particularly good friends at uni, apart from one girl who was only there for a year as she was on exchange from abroad. Also, the people I bonded with most on my course changed courses after one year, so I was left with very superficial friendships, and absolutely nothing to do outside of uni.

I dealt with the depression and the PAs with a combination of therapies, no meds (I wanted that as a last resort only, I was scared to depend on something outside myself, didn't want to feel helpless). It was a long, hard road. There'd be times I found myself in tears coz I was so scared about doing something, but I knew if I were to get better, I'd have to do it.

I improved vastly- but still the problem remained that all the good friends I had lived away so I have barely any social life. Also, I still have a fear of the PAs I had coming back. A lot of literature about panic tells you not to worry about it coz it can't hurt you, but mine DID- it made me physically ill- and the thought of ever going back there terrifies me. It's that what needs to be overcome now. I want to do more things and make new friends, but that fear has made me very scared and reluctant to expand my comfort zone. However, the feeling of not being the person I am meant to be, not being 'the real me' is a motivating factor in overcoming what remains of my fears.

In the meantime, I wanted to make friends with people online who would understand, as I work through 'expanding my comfort zone' gradually, at a pace right for me.


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