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Panic button

When anxiety overwhelmed Heidi Scrimgeour, medication proved a lifeline. But she wanted to dig deeper – why had this happened? And had it really come out of the blue?

Hitting the age of 40 without taking ‘happy pills’ was a point of personal pride. I’d always thought of myself as someone who didn’t ‘do’ anxiety or depression – until I found myself in my doctor’s surgery, begging for something to make the unbearable feelings stop.

A series of stressful life events – from family conflict to criticism at work – had converged, until a difficult conversation used up the last of my emotional reserves, and I was suddenly completely overwrought, unable to stop crying. I moved through that weekend in a daze, unable to focus on anything except the dread.

We visited a theme park (a pre-arranged trip) and I froze when my husband suggested I wait with our daughter while he took our boys on a ride. ‘I can’t,’ I whispered. ‘What if she floats away?’ I wept with relief when my GP handed me a prescription for anti-anxiety medication and prayed that it would restore me to the calm state I had always taken for granted.

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