“If you can't talk, type and don’t forget there is light at the end of the tunnel”
Maison de Choup, a vibrant young fashion company, is one of our corporate supporters. In this guest blog post, founder George David Hodgson talks about his own experience of mental health issues and why he’s chosen to support YoungMinds.
I've always been an anxious person. Ever since I was young I've had anxieties, we all do.
It was when I was sixteen everything came crashing down…
After we had taken our exams and left school some friends and I decided to go to a festival together. Sounds great? Wrong! At this festival I made a decision which led to panic attacks, anxiety attacks, feeling sick, sweating and sensations of impending doom and, in a very short amount of time, became house bound.
I decided to experiment and take the drug MDMA, which is commonly known to increase your heart rate, make you sweat, suffer breathlessness and can lead to black outs, dilated pupils - the identical symptoms to a panic attack.
About three months after the festival whilst I was waiting to start college, I felt myself shiver and go cold and seconds later my heart was pounding. I thought to myself, it's back, the drug is still in my system and somehow it has come back. I went to my bedroom and thought I have to tell my parents, this is not good, I'm dying and I need to go to hospital.
I told my parents everything; the experimentation with drugs and what I was currently feeling, which was the single most frightening thing I have ever experienced. We called the doctor who said I was experiencing a 'panic attack'. I was 100% sure I was about to die right there on the kitchen floor.
Fast forward a month and I had started college and was having a get together with a few friends, which I wasn't exactly enjoying and I couldn't pinpoint why. At the end of the gathering everyone left and I felt completely empty, down, no motivation and no feelings of happiness. What was happening to me?
Another trip to the doctors and the news came that I have severe anxiety and panic disorder. I was referred to children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) who said they could help me, but there was a 40 week waiting list. I was now house bound, had dropped out of college and for about a year and a half I didn’t go anywhere without my parents and didn’t want to be left alone at all.
Luckily my parents were able to send me to a psychiatrist and CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapist) privately.
After a year I had finished with my psychiatrist but was still on a cocktail of medication (Pregabalin to help cope with the anxiety and Propranolol to cut the adrenaline to prevent further panic attacks) and I was having lessons with my therapist. He taught me all about anxiety, how it works and coping mechanisms to deal with it.
You Will Be OK
What I learnt is that, there is always light at the end of the tunnel, even though it may feel like a very long tunnel, you will make it to the end and you will be ok. Always believe in yourself and tell yourself I CAN. Help is out there and you need to find people who are willing to listen to you as this will help. Having someone to talk to is the greatest feeling.
In total it took three years for me to feel better, for the severe anxiety and panic attacks to subside and for me to be able to leave the house more confidently on my own.
In August last year I actually went to a festival and didn't have a panic attack. I also finished my medication and stopped seeing my therapist as I had the coping mechanisms. I now keep myself incredibly busy, always finding new things to do because this keeps the anxiety at bay. I never allow myself to spiral and worry about things I can't change or which haven't happened yet, because essentially anxiety involves always worrying about what will happen next or in the future. I also freely and openly talk about my anxiety to new people and friends because it helps me and I feel better for it.
I am an artist and started the fashion label Maison de Choup in 2014 during some of my darkest days to keep me busy. It helped with my recovery and has now grown into something very exciting indeed. Our popular 'Words Fail Me' tee is dedicated and designed around anxiety. Using a word search puzzle, it shows how hard it can be to find the words to express what you are feeling if you are suffering from anxiety or depression or you know someone who is. Twenty five per cent of the proceeds from each ‘Words Fail Me’ T-Shirt are donated to YoungMinds.
I still suffer from anxiety but I use my coping mechanisms and believe it is important for us all to talk about mental illness.
We'd like to say a big thank you to George for sharing his story and to Maison de Choup for their continued support of YoungMinds.