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Book a call with an Anxiety UK advisor here


By Alison


I have always had a tendency towards health anxiety, but in 2018 I experienced a life changing event which was to have a serious impact on all aspects of my life, including my ability to work, due to extreme anxiety. I had a very rare reaction to a medication prescribed by my GP. I became so critically ill and had several seizures that I ended up in intensive care, in an induced coma and on a ventilator.

I remember how surreal it all was when I woke up out of the coma and being told I was in intensive care. I had no memory of the previous few days or my time in A and E. I was very weak and couldn’t really speak or move. I felt very vulnerable and confused. As a result of this experience, I developed an extreme anxiety around becoming ill again, taking new medication, and hospitals, but I managed to return to my part-time job after ten months on a phased basis. Although my anxiety levels generally were much higher than they had been, I was able to function, however this all changed with COVID.

In the early days, the thought of the risk of a deadly virus which had no treatment or cure and the images of people in hospital on ventilators and in induced comas triggered extreme panic in me. I experienced flashbacks, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t leave the house and even had to prepare dinner in full PPE. I was terrified of catching COVID and ending up on a ventilator and in a coma as I had been in 2018.

My anxiety levels were so high that I lost my job as I felt I couldn’t return to the office. The anxiety at that time affected my ability to focus or function normally as I was continually preoccupied with thoughts and worry about contracting COVID, getting ill and dying. The process of losing my job was devastating. Not being able to work due to anxiety eroded my confidence and I felt very depressed. At this point I knew that I needed professional help. I had always thought of myself as a strong, resilient person but I realised that strength is also being able to recognise when you need help. My GP referred me for counselling.

Therapy was one of the best decisions I made as in about 8 sessions I went from not being able to function, to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and feeling better able to manage my anxiety. Being able to talk through my feelings and using CBT to change my thoughts which changed my feelings and then my behaviour, had a hugely positive impact on my life. Before therapy, my anxiety controlled my life, however after therapy, I was able to begin the process of rebuilding my life. I’m now re-training as a therapist myself as I would like to help others as I was helped.

For information on accessing therapy through Anxiety UK, please see here.

The views expressed by the contributor are not necessarily those of Anxiety UK, nor can we guarantee the accuracy of the information provided. If you would like to write a blog for AUK please email [email protected] for more information.

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