Happiful November 2019

online.magazines

Overcome

with anxiety

Anxiety and panic attacks blighted Calli’s life for

years, but after therapy, and starting a blog, she’s

on the road to recovery, and is helping to end

the stigma around mental illness

Writing | Calli Kitson

My first

memory

of anxiety

was when

I fainted in my local

hairdresser’s. I had no

idea why, other than I got

too hot and flustered. It

happened again during a

violin lesson, after I got

stressed when I couldn’t

read the music notes.

I didn’t identify this as

anxiety at the time, as I

didn’t really know what

anxiety was.

It was about six years

ago that things started to

make more sense. It was

the summer before I was

due to start high school,

and I’d been experiencing

symptoms of anxiety

before every long car

journey.

At the time, I didn’t know

what it meant or why it

was happening – I just

wondered what the odd

feeling in my stomach

was. It became more clear

on a trip to the zoo with

my sisters, my niece, and

my sister’s friend, when

the car broke down.

We pulled over at the

side of the road and the

feeling in my stomach

began. I started to feel

very hot and flustered. I

asked my sister if I could

step out of the car for

some air, but she wouldn’t

let me. We were on the

side of a very busy road,

and it would’ve been really

dangerous for me to go

out, but at that moment I

didn’t care, I just had to get

out of the car.

Later that same summer

I had my first panic attack

when my mum suggested

we go to a theme park. I

got that horrible feeling

in my stomach, clammy

hands, became hot and

flustered, and I began

hyperventilating, which

eventually led to a panic

attack.

My mum, who had

experienced her own

mental health problems,

told me that I probably

had anxiety. To be sure,

we went to the doctor, who

confirmed it.

For the past two years,

I’ve been on a very long

road to recovery after

being mentally ill for five

months. I’ll be honest, I’m

still not fully happy with

my mental health.

In those five months, I

fell down a hole so deep

that I wasn’t sure how I

was going to get out. Every

time I’d have a moment

where I felt sad and low,

I’d think: ‘It’s just a phase,

this won’t last forever.’

These months of torture

began after I started a new

job as a chef. Sadly, I only

managed three days and

had five panic attacks. It

was unbearable, so I left.

It was around this time

when I was out of work

and my brain had nothing

to focus on, that I became

aware of my OCD. Every

night I’d go downstairs and

begin a series of rituals

– and I was aware this

wasn’t a normal thing to

do. After a bit of research,

I soon realised I had OCD.

38 • happiful.com • November 2019

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