I was walking through the warehouse where I’ve worked for the last three years. It was the end of my shift and I was on my way out to the back office to collect my belongings before driving home.
Suddenly I found myself frozen in time. I couldn’t move. I felt detached from my body. I couldn’t feel my legs and was convinced I couldn’t take another step forward. My eyes welled up, my heart raced, and I thought I was about to faint or even die. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was my first panic attack.
I feel like I stood there for ages, but it was probably only thirty seconds or so. Eventually I was able to call my mum who came and got me.
I knew I had to seek help. I couldn’t pretend everything was okay and hide my struggles anymore. My symptoms of anxiety were increasingly overwhelming. But I was embarrassed to tell people, especially the people I worked with. What if they thought I was weird or not capable of doing my job anymore?
I went over and over this in my mind. Mental health is a topic that has been discussed at my work. We participated in RUOK day last year and my Team Leader has spoken about the support available through work. I’m not saying that I didn’t feel awkward about approaching my Team Leader, but the fact that mental health had been talked about at work gave me the confidence to speak up.
Thankfully my Team Leader was supportive and encouraging. He suggested resources that might help me and made some changes to my tasks and the hours I was working. I used my workplace EAP service and spoke to my GP.
I still have difficult days with my anxiety but I’m managing better and am on a path to recovery.