I was driving home alone.
Suddenly, I felt a tightness in my chest and throat.
It was getting difficult to breathe.
I felt giddy.
My face was numb.
My body felt weak.
Could this be a heart attack?
I ended up at a hospital’s Accident and Emergency department.
The routine blood test and scans showed that everything was normal.
But I had another attack a few days later.
I consulted a cardiologist.
He conducted ECG, stress test, heart scan, 24-hour heart rhythm monitoring.
Again, he said, there’s nothing wrong with my heart.
He told me to consult a psychiatrist.
I refused. I was not crazy!
I went on to consult a neurologist and a gastroenterologist.
Then a chest physician, an endocrinologist, and ENT specialist.
All the specialists told me that there’s nothing wrong with me.
However, the attacks wouldn’t go away.
I was scared of driving.
I didn’t know when the attacks would come again.
I tried to talk to my friends and family but they couldn’t understand.
“It’s all in your mind,” they told me.
I tried spiritual healing but it didn’t help me.
I felt helpless and confused.
I had no choice but to see a psychiatrist.
He told me that I was suffering from panic attacks.
I learnt that the symptoms are similar to a heart attack.
With anti-panic medication, counselling therapy, relaxation training, and family support, things began to get better.
If you’re experiencing unexplained medical symptoms,
It can be due to a panic attack or other anxiety conditions.
There’s hope, still.
They can be treated by Mental Health professionals.
Let’s remove the stigma of mental health, together,
We can do it.
It’s okay to tell your story like it really is.
Don’t be ashamed of your story.
It will inspire others, if you talk about it.
Let’s talk about mental health as we talk about physical health.
Speaking up and asking for help doesn’t make us needy, weak or sensitive.
It makes us human.
The writer has an MPhil and is a clinical psychology trainee