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Finding hope online
Primary school teacher Becky explains how Mind’s website played a vital role in helping her cope with panic attacks.
Becky was travelling on a bus close to her home when she first experienced a panic attack. “I had no idea what was going on,” she says. “My whole body felt weird – I felt hot and intensely dizzy and knew I just had to get off that bus.”
Unnerved but assuming it was a one-off, she took the same journey again the next day – and the same thing happened. In the weeks and months that followed, the attacks became more intense and more frequent. Eventually Becky felt she had no choice but to take time away from the job she loves – working as a primary school teacher.
“When I was at my worst I would be scared to leave the house,” she says. “Depression set in. I became suicidal. I remember thinking, ‘I can’t go anywhere. I can’t see my friends. What’s the hope for the future?’”
Finding comfort online
It was at night when the attacks were most frightening. “My friends would be asleep, so I wouldn’t want to phone them,” Becky says, “and I’d become really, really scared about what I was feeling. It was a very lonely experience.”
Unable to sleep one night, Becky came across the Mind website. “It was so helpful for me because I knew I could trust what I was reading,” she says. “There are so many untrustworthy sites out there, but the Mind site made me feel safe. It calmed me down enough to think, ‘OK I can go to sleep now. I’ll carry on.’”
Over the months that followed, the information and personal experiences on the site became a frequent source of comfort, especially at night. Counselling made a big difference too.
Learning to cope
Gradually, Becky became more aware of how to prevent and manage panic attacks – avoiding busy shops and restaurants, or driving to meet friends so she could leave quickly if she needed to.
And while she still experiences occasional attacks, they are nowhere near as much of a problem today. She recently posted a film online to help others cope, and is back teaching too. “I love being with children,” she smiles. “They help me to feel happy and full of energy.”
Becky spends less time on our website these day, but hopes that her story might now help others find strength. “I am very, very thankful to Mind and to everyone who supports Mind,” she says.
“On a couple of occasions the website has actually saved my life. Just reading a story online of somebody in a similar situation has given me a small glimmer of hope: to keep going, despite the darkness. Now I want to use my experience to give someone else that same sense of hope.”
Your support makes stories like Becky’s possible. We can’t thank you enough.