Anxiety Attacks Don’t Always Look Like Hyperventilation

“My name is Ellie. I am a 20-year-old who has suffered with anxiety from the age of 14. Mental health issues can be such a lonely journey and something that can be so tricky to understand within yourself.

When I was 14 I didn’t even know I was suffering with the illness, as the symptoms I was showing didn’t match to the ‘stereotypical’ signs. I called them dizzy spells back then, thinking it was maybe sue to an iron deficiency, dehydration or perhaps low blood sugar. It took multiple trips to the doctors, hospitals and many, MANY appointments to discover what I was suffering from was actually anxiety.

Since that moment I have always tried to educate myself on mental health and am such an advocate for increasing understanding of it. I speak so openly and honestly about it on my blog, finding that just starting that conversation makes such a difference. I have learned so much about my own anxiety, and others, through speaking with my followers about different experiences.

Personally, I suffer from such a wide variety of symptoms, from moments of complete silence to bouts of rage to uncontrollable shaking. It can be hard to explain your behavior to others, especially as there is so little understanding of unconventional symptoms of mental health.

A story that really stands out for me is a moment I suffered a really severe anxiety attack where I was in a busy club with a few friends and my boyfriend. The mixture of loud music, bustling bodies and flashing lights just flicked a switch in me and I froze. I physically couldn’t move. I just collapsed and started sobbing.

Bouncers came rushing over, assuming it was because of alcohol. But little did they know I had not touched a drop. It was a panic attack and I couldn’t move. My boyfriend scooped me up, with the bouncers screaming at me to get up and get out. He took me outside and let me sob it out.

I then started shaking uncontrollably and couldn’t stop. So many people stopped and started asking if I was okay, if there was anything they could do. But I couldn’t get a word out. After about an hour and half in the street, shaking, the attack passed, and I managed to let him take me to a cab.

I actually had a past relationship who told me that I was ‘attention seeking’ when I suffered from attacks, and that it was unfair for him to have to deal with my unpredictability.

I am so lucky now to have a partner who spends his nights reading up about mental health in order to try and help and support me. But it took a while for him to understand and a great deal of patience.

I wanted to share with my followers about different symptoms and different experiences but did not expect the tweet to blow up quite so much!

I have had hundreds of thousands of people sharing their own experiences, struggles and symptoms — with others thanking me for educating them.

It is amazing that I have created a space for so many to come to and open up. I feel so lucky to have had this platform to share my knowledge and understanding of my own mental health, and amazingly, along the way, help others with theirs.”


This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Ellen of the United Kingdom. You can follow her on Twitter. Subscribe to our free email newsletter, Living Better—your ultimate guide for actionable insights, evidence backed advice, and captivating personal stories, propelling you forward to living a more fulfilling life.

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