I thought I was dying, that my body was shutting down. That I would stop being able to breathe or my heart would give out with its super-fast - then scarily slow - crazy erratic beats. I always felt on the verge of losing consciousness, like I couldn’t take a proper breath.
I was in a chicken-egg situation. Does the panic come first, or the physical symptoms followed by the panic? I spent a lot of time with my doctor, and came away with prescription medication that zombied me out. This was not a long term solution. I had to find a better way of dealing with this.
I had become too freaked out to exercise. I looked at my diet, cut out caffeine; spent hours googling my symptoms and looking for solutions.
My life changing moment came in the cardiologist’s office. Wired up to the ECG, he got me to take a number of deep breaths then asked how I felt. Terrible, this is the feeling! He explained that I was over breathing; my issue was that I had too much carbon dioxide. The symptoms I experienced mimicked serious disease, and these symptoms lead to further over-breathing, creating a vicious cycle.
It was such a relief to know what I was dealing with, and to learn how to deal with it. I’m not quite there yet and still have my anxious periods. And yet I wanted to share, because I spent so long not knowing what was wrong with me - I had never heard of this syndrome they call “The Great Mimic”.
If the content on this website is distressing or triggering, or, if you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, we have provided in contact details below for you to speak with a professional. If you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call the police immediately on 111.
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor (available 24/7)
• LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
•WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757