I was 16 and in the middle of my GCSEs when I was rushed to hospital, thinking I was having a heart attack.
I was told it could be stress. That’s what they always said. But I knew it wasn’t just stress.
I’d started to feel different from everyone else; I always knew that I had a problem but myself and my family had always swept it under the carpet. I didn’t want to accept there was anything wrong with me.
I went to see the doctor for help, which was a big step for me. They made me feel that my feelings were not taken seriously and all this was just one big joke. I was advised to go to a self-help group, but I couldn’t face it – I’d tried before and it didn’t help due to my anxiety.
Shortly before my 18th birthday, I went back to the doctor with the same issue: chest pains. He sent me back to hospital for more tests, but when nothing showed up I was told there was nothing wrong. According to the doctors I was a normal, healthy teenager.
I accepted it and tried my best to carry on. But my anxiety started to take over my life. I couldn’t even go out in public without my mum. To this day, she has to do everything for me. When I’m in public I feel trapped and I get anxiety attacks when attending social events.
Now I’m 18 and have recently got a new job. That was a big step for me so I decided to go back to the doctor. Perhaps now I was 18 they would take me seriously. This time, they did and I was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder.
I’m relieved that I finally have a diagnosis and that I know what is causing all these feelings I have.
I’ve been referred to an adult service for mental health treatment to finally get my anxiety under control.
I was nervous to tell my family and work about my diagnosis, as I was worried people would think I was weird and not like me anymore. But everyone is being really supportive.
I have good and bad days, but I’m just glad that I can finally get this sorted, so I can start getting better and living like a “normal” 18-year-old.