Heather's story


I have suffered from anxiety for many years. I think that I managed to keep it to myself for a while. I started having panic attacks about three or four years ago. At the time I felt really lonely, and wasn’t sure how other people would react to how I was feeling.

It is something so personal, I felt totally out of control, and that my life as I knew it was slipping away from me. I was lucky that I had some friends and family who were supportive, however there were definitely people who couldn’t or wouldn’t understand how I was feeling.

When my panic attacks were at their worst I was unable to leave the house, as I was having panic attacks several times a day – feeling like I was going to die.

I got the feeling from some people, that they were thinking – ‘well why can’t you get out of the house, you are perfectly ‘healthy?’’ I felt that people on the outside looking in would have not have understood how I was feeling, and that would make me feel even more isolated.

People thought I just wasn’t cut out for university, the student life obviously wasn’t for me.

People only saw me as the illness. They didn’t see me for the person I was and they judged what I did based on that. If I couldn’t do something because I was ill, people just thought that was me, that was my personality.

But I thought the same of myself. I thought this is just who I am. I saw my anxiety as weakness and part of having a weak personality. I was hard on myself and didn’t think I could be treated. I thought this was just how I would be for the rest of my life.

My advisor of studies was fantastic. He really helped me when it was all too much. However I feel that some of the lecturers on the course just thought I couldn’t cope with the work, and didn’t really give me a chance. Now that I am in better health I am back studying, which I am really enjoying.

We want everyone to work together; people who have never had mental health problems should take action as well. You can’t just think that mental health problems will never affect you, because it could. It can affect anyone.