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Freek will never live without fear again: ‘panic attacks of two days’

“I remember well when I was about nine years old and came out of school. The buzzer went off and I stepped out into the schoolyard. But I didn’t see my mother standing anywhere among the waiting parents. I couldn’t find her, and I immediately thought. to the worst. That something had happened to her. Something terrible that would make me lose her. That was my utmost fear, and the panic was running through my body. Of course there was nothing wrong with my mother, she was just something too late. But this incident illustrates what I was like as a child. I can’t remember anything but fearing disaster. “

“The fear that something would happen to my parents that would make me never see them again was always present in my childhood. I prefer to always be with my mother, and when my parents went out – even for something as simple as a message – then I panicked. I was young and didn’t know exactly what that feeling was and how to deal with it. In response, I started shouting myself over. I was very present in class. I talked throughout class, kept joking and was messing around a lot. From the sixth grade onwards I was examined by several psychologists to find out what exactly was wrong with me. I was tested for Asperger’s and ADHD. There was no question of that, and after some time the diagnosis that I was suffering from an anxiety disorder.

Over the years I have followed various therapies to deal with my anxiety and panic attacks. Sometimes things went better with me for a while, but sooner or later the fear hit again. The panic came out of nowhere, at the strangest moments. Sometimes I just sat on the couch watching TV, and then I was overcome by a sense of great danger. My body reacted very strongly to that. I got chills at such times. My heart rate shot up and I started to sweat. The worst part was that I could no longer think normally. I really thought I was going to die, which made me even more panic. “

Afraid of hyperventilating

“The anxiety attacks got worse and worse. They were at their peak around my twentieth birthday. I used to like to browse flea markets, but I didn’t dare to do that anymore because I was afraid I would hyperventilate in the crowd. I was always a bit tense and nervous when I went out, but I usually managed to get over it.

I noticed that I could no longer afford that. When friends asked me, I made up excuses. I had just started a new study and threw it on it, supposedly I was too busy to go. I found it difficult to be honest about it. Many people have no idea what it’s like to live with an anxiety disorder. Don’t pretend, is a frequently heard ‘advice’. With a broken leg in a cast, it is clear what is wrong, but not with mental problems. Physically I was fine, and that made it difficult to explain what I was struggling with. “

“When I could hardly do anything and barely left the house, I went to the doctor for help. I had already tried countless therapies, I was done with that. It was time to give it a try with medication. But I felt that was the only option. I put it into perspective for myself, thinking that others are taking medicines for asthma or high blood pressure – and nobody has an opinion about that. And I just happen to need other medicines.

I have been taking anti-depressants that reduce anxiety for nine years. Since then I have been doing much better. Where I used to suffer from panic attacks that sometimes lasted for two days, now I can usually be relieved of them within an hour. I also suffer from it much less often anyway. That’s a huge profit. “

“Sometimes I have a small relapse. Corona, for example, is an extra trigger for me to become anxious. Then I talk to one of my sisters. Both of my sisters also suffer from an anxiety disorder, so we find support from each other. There is clearly a hereditary aspect, but it is difficult to say who in our family has also suffered from it.

In the past, little was said about mental problems, which was a big taboo. But I do know that my paternal grandmother was actually always at home and didn’t do anything alone. She was completely in her own bubble, where she felt most secure. I myself am the father of an eleven month old daughter. My anxiety disorder and its heredity have never been a reason for me not to have children. If my daughter has it too, we will see it again and I will assist her with my experiences as well as possible. “

“Thanks to my medication I can lead a normal life. Antidepressants often make negative headlines, but I probably never can – and will – never do without it. It is a pity that there are many prejudices about it. unstable person. I think that if you drop that you are taking these drugs during a job interview, an employer will think twice before hiring you. While it is very simple: my brain does not make a certain substance properly and the medicines fill up this on.

There are many misunderstandings about anxiety disorders. Sometimes people think that I am afraid of everything all day long, or they think that I have a singular phobia – for example, that I flip when I see a spider in the house. That is why I am participating in this interview, to show what it really is like. And to make it clear that mental illness is not scary. “

Never been outside of Europe

“I know that I will never live completely without fear again. This will always stay with me. I will not worry about that, it is a waste of my time. Of course it is sometimes frustrating that I cannot do everything I want. Spontaneous one. packing a bag and going to Paris for a weekend, I wouldn’t do it quickly. I want to be able to prepare myself well for that and even then I find it exciting, because home feels the best and most familiar to me. I’ve never had a long trip outside Made Europe because I have a fear of flying and I want to be back home quickly, which is why I prefer to go on holiday with my own transport.

I’d love to go to New York one day, but I don’t think it will ever happen. It is the way it is, I am very down to earth about that. Because I am not unhappy at all. I have a nice house, my own company and a fantastic family. I have a good life with much more fun things than misery. “

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