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Essentials – Overcoming Anxiety

Essentials.Hayley.jpegWe have an amazing story in this month’s Essentials magazine. Our client Hayley tells her story of overcoming anxiety and panic attacks through blogging and sharing the truth of her troubles with her readers. Hayley has come so far that she was able to travel to London for Essential’s photoshoot, something that would have been unheard of just a few years ago. Now a super mum and a superblogger, you can read more about everything Hayley has overcome on her own blog, Sparkles and Stretchmarks.

The story is out in Essentials now.

You can read more about Hayley below. 


Hayley McLean, 40, decided to use blogging as a way to process intense anxiety and panic attacks. In so doing, she’s found a way to come through it.

Screaming at the top of my voice, I begged for help as my body began to shake uncontrollably. Feeling edgy and desperate to be anywhere else, I ran from the bathroom to the bedroom. Another day, another panic attack.


They’d come on seemingly from nowhere. I’d be in the bath, or watching a film, then dark thoughts would dash into my mind and I’d lose all control. It was a fear of an attack happening in public that had made me more and more reclusive, the older I got.


Christmas Day 2013, I had the biggest and most terrifying panic attack yet. I was snoozing on the sofa at the end of a busy day. I woke up and gazed at the Christmas tree, thinking of how pretty it looked.


Then it hit me. Panic, not caused by anything other than my mind playing tricks on me. I started to scream as my partner Jon tried to calm me down. I couldn’t catch my breath and felt like I was going to die. It took Jon 20 minutes to coax me into calmness.


That episode scared me. I was letting panic attacks rule my life and I had a child, Tyne, then nine months old. I didn’t want him to grow up witnessing these attacks.


So my New Year’s resolution last year (2013/14) was to finally take some serious steps towards resolving my anxiety issues.


I’d already started a blog to document motherhood. Sparkles and Stretchmarks was my response to all the glossy ‘perfect mum’ blogs I’d read. It frustrated me that bloggers tended to rose-tint their lives. My blog was about the sparkles of motherhood as well as the stretchmarks.


I started writing about how leaving the house gave me palpitations. How I dreaded a chatty salesperson in a shop, because it would cause me to go into a meltdown. I had over 60 comments from people who suffered in similar ways, and I realised that this was something that needed to be discussed more.


Whenever I wrote about my panic attacks, I felt lighter, as if someone had come and taken the problem away. Putting it out there into the world wide web removed it all from my mind and made me feel less insular.

I blogged about signing up to my first mums and tots class. I felt so intimidated as I walked into a room full of strangers, but I was soon making friends.


I started counselling too and was referred to an anxiety specialist. I found it incredibly difficult to blog about but I blogged anyway, because I wanted to have it to look back on. Overcoming anxiety isn’t a road with a clear end, and I don’t know when I might find myself back in the middle of that journey again – I want to be able to look back and remember what worked for me.


Readers wrote in and suggested I try yoga, pilates, cognitive behaviour therapy, self help books and recommended websites. Some suggestions didn’t work for me, others did, but I just loved that I’d opened a line of dialogue all around the world. Now, my blog gets on average 60,000 hits a month now.
I find each time I write about my anxiety I feel calmer, and getting emails from readers asking for my advice or just sending their own tips has really helped me to feel that nobody needs to deal with this alone – there’s always someone out there who can relate to how you’re feeling, and just knowing that is a huge reassurance.