I spent most of my early teens in the swimming pool as an avid swimmer and trained upto 9 time a week! Balancing school work with my strict training schedule was tricky but this was a sport that I excelled in breaking records in most competitive races. I had the hunger, drive and passion to win. My goal was to reach the olympics nobody was going to stop me! That was until I realised all my friends where going out partying and having a social life and my social life was practically non existent. My swimming suffered as I started to try and catch up on years I felt I had missed out on. By the age of 17 I literally threw in the towel and gave up the hobbie I once adored. In a way I felt free I felt like I could start a new life I had so much catching up to do. It was great partying to the early hours in the morning most weekends. I was just doing what the majority of young people were doing at that age, living carefree and making mistakes along the way. Do I regret quitting Swimming looking back? I have learnt not too. You cannot change the past so why regret it? We learn from our mistakes and how we react to them mistakes shape us as individuals.
Anxiety and Panic
I will never forget that one April evening. I had just finished work and was driving home. I was driving and noticed my brother was trying to call me, unable to answer I continued on my route then flashed up a number that I didnt recognise I had that gut feeling that something wasnt right so I pulled over and answered the call. It was a call that I wouldnt wish upon anyone the local hospital to my father advising me that it is probably best if I made my way up to the hospital because my father was in a bad way and they didnt know if he would make it through the night. My heart sunk I was in shock, this couldnt be happening not now, not like this. I turned the car around and travelled the 1 and 1/2 hour journey to the hospital racing to the ward I was met by a nurse who pulled me to one side, I knew instantly by her reaction that I was too late, I hadnt been there yet again when my father needed me the most, my father had passed away without me by his side. I knew this day would come but not like this. Unfortuantley life doesnt play out how we imagine it to in our own minds and boy did I realise this.
This was by far the hardest period of my life. Not long after my fathers funeral I decided to go back to work. I wanted to get back into a normal routine. If I was to stay busy I could block out of my mind all the horrible thoughts that where consuming my mind. Those thoughts that I was never going to see my father again, that I missed him passing away and I could never change the fact I wasn't there for his last moments in his life even though he was there for me every second of my life. I felt guilty I felt ashamed but I couldn't admit this to myself So I did what most men fall victim too i bottled up these feelings and tried to continue as though everthing was ok when really my world around me had fallen apart.
The Anxiety Disorders
I was sat at my desk in work when suddenly everything around me seemed to get brighter it was like someone had turned up the brightness in my mind and I started to feel detached from the room almost as if I was about to start floating. My heart started racing and the voices of my co-worker enhanced everything started to feel like it was in slow motion I felt like the whole office was looking at me, was this the start of a heart attack? I jolted up from my seat and ran out of the office and out of the building I had to escape I felt like I was in serious danger. I found a bench and sat down I reached in my pocket to find my phone I had to ring for an ambulance sh*t I had left my phone on my desk. What was I going to do? I couldnt go back in to the office but I needed to. Luckily my manager came out "Dean are you ok?" she said "Sit yourself down, I think your having a panic attack" Panic attack? I knew the term from studying it in psychology I also knew the symptons of a panic attack, this was not a panic attack. I knew panic attacks couldnt harm you and this felt very real this was my heart going into overdrive and this was me in real danger. Well at least I thought it was. My manager stayed with me and reassured me that I was experiencing a panic attack, she told me to slow my breathing and take in deep breaths try and not focus on the thoughts that where racing in my mind. I slowly began feeling normal again my breathing rate calmed I couldnt feel my heart pounding in my chest anymore the panic attack had finally subsided.
No matter how much you read about panic attack symptons nothing compares to actually experiencing one first hand. I was terrified. What if this happened again whilst I was in work, would I have to run out of the office again? What if this time something bad really was happening? I started to fear another panic attack. I would research for hours how to prevent panic attacks from occuring, everything from eating healthier to exercising. I couldnt have this happen to me again little did I know I was only adding fuel to the fire.
When someone tells you not to think of a Monkey dancing on the roof of a yellow car. What is the first thing you think of?
That's right all you can picture is the darn monkey and its mischievious ways!
And this is what exactly happened to me i tried to shut panic attacks out and there they came full force. In work I would deal with roughly one panic attack a day and a constant build up of anxiety throughout the day, I was experiencing anxiety at its worse. I had to seek help.
I booked myself into the doctors who confirmed to me I had panic disorder she signed me off from work for two weeks. And gave me a book labelled 'How to deal with panic' I left in shock. Had I really just been told that I had panic disorder and given a book to read. Why was the doctor not taking me seriously?
I set up DLC because I want to support like minded people who may be dealing with an anxiety disorder. I am no different than you if I recovered then so can you. See DLC as your virtual community hub where you can check in with other people who are also on their own personal journey to recovery. And learn what is new from the industry professionals that are interviewed through the IGTV Platform.