You may recognise Polly from our new video ‘Talking about panic attacks’. Here she blogs about why she wanted to be involved and what it was like to take part. You can follow her on twitter @FieldingPolly
I was keen to participate in Mind’s project as I want to help to dispel the stigma attached to having, or even speaking out about, Mental Health issues.
However, on the way to the cafe where filming took place, I began to experience the intensely painful physical and mental symptoms which accompany the crippling anxiety that I have suffered from for as long as I can remember.
‘What if I couldn’t find the location, despite clear instructions on how to get there?’ What if I was late and kept others waiting?’ ‘What if I made a complete fool of myself?’ ‘What if...?’ The self-tormenting thoughts continued.
Using Mindful techniques to ground myself and knowing that I would get a sense of achievement from successfully challenging myself, I continued my journey despite the urge to back out.
After a delicious lunch with the other participants, I found that despite my high level of anxiety, once we began to talk to each other about our experiences the conversation flowed easily and empathically. I felt a distinct sense of common relief in being able to speak openly and unreservedly about a subject that we were all familiar with and that could, for now, be discussed without fear of being judged by anyone in the group.
It was also extremely useful to share our different ways of coping with the extreme distress that severe anxiety causes.
The afternoon was both an enriching and warm experience and a further step to dealing with a condition that is not always apparent to those around us. I was left feeling really pleased that I took the plunge to be part of an unforgettable couple of hours. I remain in contact with some of the lovely people I met there.
It is so helpful to know that, however bad you may be feeling inside, there are others out there who do truly understand your struggle from first-hand experience.
That evening I further rewarded myself for not avoiding the fear of taking part in the session with a tasty Indian takeaway.
Watch my video here