Updated: Sep 11, 2018
We met Amy at Millstead Primary School during her voluntary work. Amy wanted to share with New Beginnings how an holistic approach helped her. This is what she had to say.
"When I was fifteen years old I suddenly became profoundly deaf in my left ear from weakness in the cochlear. The type of breakage meant I couldn't have a cochlear implant. I developed tinnitus and my life significantly changed and I developed anxiety and social problems needing support with my education and struggling to communicate with those around me. Depression didn't surface until I started at university in Liverpool which was as a result of my hearing loss and anxiety. My fiancé went to Staffordshire university and I had always relied on him not just for communicating with others but as emotional support.
As university progressed so did my anxiety and depression. I regularly locked myself away for days at a time and my housemates just learnt that was normal. I developed a sleep disorders often being awake over 48 hours at a time. I started to feel like I no longer wanted to carry on with my degree and began to wonder if I wanted to carry on with anything at all. My fiancé would regularly travel to Liverpool to help me when I was having my panic attacks but I was becoming increasingly agitated and even violent. He told me I needed to see my GP. When I did see the GP and explained my symptoms he put my straight on antidepressents.
I took antidepressents for just over a week and they made me sleep twelve hours straight but with vivid nightmares. I felt just as agitated and anxious as before, maybe even more than before. I didn't give the antidepressents the time to settle down because I felt they were just not for me and my nightmares were getting worse as the week went on. My GP hadn't given me any other options when I saw him but I read online that the reason some people have panic attacks is because they don't relax or take time out so the brain is always working and can't cope. I realised that was me because I wasn't just at university, I was working full time with a girl with disabilities at her home and I was volunteering in two organisations on a weekly basis. I was avoiding dealing with my problems and then I realised it was no wonder my mind and body were panicking!
I first wrote a list of what I wanted to continue doing in my life and what I should stop doing. Top of the list was my degree and maintaining my relationship with my fiance. I prioritised those two things and learnt to say no to extra shifts and voluntary work. Learning to say no is the hardest thing to do when you want to please everyone but it's in everyone's best interests. You can't give 100% all the time. I started counselling at the university and I occasionally attended a meditation group. I passed my degree with a distinction and then my MA with a distinction also in Disability Studies. Straight after university I went travelling round Europe and worked in China which helped me learn about myself and gave me the time to think through issues I had been avoiding thinking about.
Depression went away but anxiety still continues even today. I learnt that some situations would cause me to have panic attacks such as working alongside other people with anxiety. I learnt I am an empathic person and therefore I needed to work with people that didn't have anxiety like me. In the last year I have started writing a day to day plan including different activities I could do such as go out for dinner with my fiance, walk the dogs I borrow from a friend, do some painting or go out for a walk around the zoo. Free time I learnt is the key even if it's just an hour a day just to relax and have a clear mind. LUSH have some good sprays and lotions called 'sleepy' which have really worked for me and I have read online they work for other people with anxiety and sleep disorders. I also have an Indian head massage every Friday which reduces stress and tension. The Good Samaritans are good to talk to aswell. You don't have to be suicidal to talk to them. They are just there to listen and it really does help.
Today I am a clinical personal assistant for a young boy and volunteer once a fortnight in a special school in Liverpool. I own a house with my fiancé, I drive a car and I am looking at doing SEN teaching in the near future. I haven't had a panic attack for over a year now. I am very proud of my achievements and they have only been achieved by taking a step back and deciding what is really important in my life. For me, therapeutic methods have worked well and have enabled me to do this. I'm pleased I chose to not just listen face value to my GP and I questioned the system and searched for other options. I believe for me that therapeutics have done more good than pharmaceuticals could have ever done."
BY AMY OWEN-BURROWS