Panic On The Streets of London

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I’ve toyed with the idea of writing this post for a few days; the fear of people reading it and thinking ‘get a grip’ always overtaking the want to be completely honest. However, as I’m sat here with 10 minutes to spare before I’m called in for my counselling session, where we will inevitably talk about it, I’m going to share something that happened last week.

I’ve talked about he fact I’m currently undergoing some bereavement counselling to help me namely deal with the death of my gran and the huge sense of loss and sadness it has left me with. Intertwined with that though, is this severe daily worry that something is going to happen to someone I love. Whether that be Tom, my Mum, my Dad or one of my brothers; I’m constantly on edge thinking something awful is going to happen and that one of them is going to die. It sounds awful I know, but these are very real thoughts in my head and any time I get a call I’m not expecting I fear the worst. I have this palpable sense of utter panic and dread that comes over me whenever I see something remotely related to death or loss and I picture losing one of them. In a round about way I know where it has stemmed from but it certainly hasn’t got any easier the older I have got.

With this in mind, I like to make sure I check-in with people. I speak to my mum twice a day to ensure everything is okay at home and like most couples, Tom and I exchange texts during various junctures in our working day. Problems however arise when I get unexpected calls – they quite literally put the fear of god in me. I always assume it’s bad news and enter into periods of shallow breathing and a thumping heart until I’m reassured otherwise.

Last week I was helping to manage a residential conference in Nottingham. As always, when one of us is away, I sent Tom a good morning text and jumped in the shower. I returned to no reply and decided to give him a ring. No answer. It was 7am, he was probably in the shower too. He’ll ring back I thought. I proceeded to dry my hair, persistently checking my phone. Still nothing.

Half an hour passed and I started to panic. Tom is pretty much surgically attached to his phone (he has to be for work), so the rational thoughts of he’s left his phone at home or it’s in his pocket on silent just didn’t wash with me. I knew he just wouldn’t go to work without speaking to me. Something had happened. And then my body went into sheer panic, I couldn’t breathe. My heart was beating out of my chest. I felt faint. I felt sick.

I started visualising him in hospital. I started visualising him run over, electrocuted, unconscious, murdered; you name it, I visualised it. I checked Sky News as I visualised him on a tube in the middle of a terrorist attack. Now, I know all this may sound incomprehensible to some of you but I can’t begin to describe how real it felt. All the while ringing and ringing him with no answer. With every ring, my fear heightening.

I ended up convincing myself that he was dead and that this was the only logical explanation. I then felt the very real pangs of loss akin to those when I had a phone call to say my gran had died – the feeling that I was never going to see him again. There was a very real pain in my chest at this point. How could I get to him? How could I say goodbye? How could I live without him? How could I possibly go on without him? I went from 1 to 100 in a very short space of time and all the feelings of panic and loss I’ve ever felt all came flooding back.

And then the phone rang. And I’m guessing you don’t need me to tell you who it was!

But in a way that didn’t matter, yes I knew he was safe but all those feelings of loss and death had entered my head and weren’t going to budge. And that’s why I wanted to share this with you. I wanted to try and highlight how a seemingly ridiculous worry to some, can actually cause a huge amount of physical and mental trauma that can be felt for days afterwards.

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