I remember my first panic attack. I was sitting on my bed, at night, seemingly relaxed when I felt a sharp pain.
Then, I started feeling something rising in me. I began to feel out of control. I thought to myself, I should take a shower so I can go to the hospital. Honest to goodness that was my first thought.
But then, panic set in. What am I feeling? Why am I feeling it? I was so confused and getting really scared.
The more I felt these unidentifiable feelings, the more I panicked. Then, I grabbed my husband and yelled, I need to go to the emergency room. I think I’m having a stroke.
I felt numbness and tingling and thought my face and arm were going numb. The more I experienced, the more I freaked out.
My son was sound asleep in his bed so our neighbor came over to sit with him while we headed to the doctor.
When we arrived at the doctor, she immediately sent us to the hospital.
On the way to the hospital
As we drove to the hospital, I thought my husband was driving too slowly. I yelled at him to drive faster!!
On the drive over, I called my mom to tell her I wasn’t doing well and I was on my way to the hospital. She reassured me and told me I was going to be okay.
As we drove, I couldn’t calm myself and I felt the numbness begin to spread throughout my body. I got more scared so I called the emergency line from the car asking for help. They said my best bet was to keep coming to the hospital in our car.
When I arrived at the emergency room, they started in on the stroke protocol – asking me to squeeze their hand, describe what happened, tell them what I was feeling, be x-rayed, let my blood be taken and lay still for an MRI.
The longer I waited the calmer I became, though the numbness was still there.
At the end of the night, they couldn’t find any explanation for the episode, and they encouraged me to go visit my local doctor.
Panic attacks and constant worry
This began a long cycle of racing heart beats, trouble sleeping, another MRI and constant worry.
About six months later, I was on my way to the States to visit my family for the first time in years and the panic set in again, only this time, I was far away from medical care – I don’t have insurance in the States anymore, and this time, the anxiety and depression were crippling.
I was scheduled to stay in the States for two months, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it. Every day was a struggle. I didn’t want to leave the house. I could hardly visit friends and family. I didn’t know when the panic would set in. I was counting down the days until I could return back to Australia where I knew I had medical help.
Counseling service that helped with my panic attacks
And then, I remembered this service for counseling that I could get online called BetterHelp. I had signed up to share it with people several years before, but I had never used it myself. I believed whole heartedly in counseling because it had helped me through several breakups in the past, but I had never done online counseling.
I went on the site, answered a series of questions about my background, what I was experiencing and my preferences for a counselor (or therapist like some people call it). Then BetterHelp found me a counselor named Rebekah Philippart.
We started by messaging on the service and then we had a chat on the phone. After explaining to her what was going on, I felt a little bit of relief. Just getting it off my chest and not carrying it around anymore was a great first step for me.
After that, we started talking every so often, and she understood my goal was to be able to make it back to Australia.
Rebekah helped me realise, for the first time, that I was experiencing anxiety and having panic attacks. She helped me learn some strategies that helped me get through that hard time.
Strategies to deal with panic attacks
She gave me strategies to remember when moments of panic set in, and I was able to talk to her on the phone and through messenger when I wasn’t able to call.
I was really scared I was going to have to cut my trip short, and now looking back, I’m so glad I didn’t. That trip took place at the end of 2019 right before COVID hit. It was the first time my dad got to meet my son, who was just three years old at the time, and they fell in love with each other. Looking back now, I’m so glad talking to Rebekah at BetterHelp let me spend as much time with my family in the States as possible because I know I would have regretted it if I wasn’t able to spend as much time there as possible.
Taking care of our mental health isn’t something we talk about enough and it’s probably because it’s so hard to be honest about it. It’s even hard for me to tell you this story here on e-mail and we’re not looking each other in the eyes, but it’s still personal and hard to share.
But being able to reach out to Rebekah at BetterHelp is what made a difference for me and my family.
I’m wondering if any of my story really hit you because you know exactly what I was going through. Are you going through a hard time that you’re struggling with? It could be panic attacks and anxiety like me or depression or relationship challenges or struggles with your kids. Honestly, the list goes on and on and on!
Counseling has consistently been a game changer for me! Having a sounding board, and someone to reflect back to me and give me guidance and help me understand why things are happening the way they are has been priceless.
How BetterHelp helped me with panic attacks
In the moment of need for my family, BetterHelp came through and let my son spend as much time as possible with his Papa Mack.
If you want to learn more about getting counseling with BetterHelp you can visit their sign-up page here.
If you want to learn more about how the sign-up process works, I wrote an article on my website, which you can find here: The BetterHelp Online Counseling Guide.
If you have any questions, just let me know. You can send me an e-mail or we can jump on a Zoom call so I can explain the service a little bit more too if that would help you.