Personal Stories – Leon

I was always a keen sportsman at school and one of the top students academically for my year. In my A-level exams I was fortunate enough to achieve high enough grades to be accepted into my University of choice. In my gap year, whilst working as an office temp, I suffered my first panic attack, which was terrifying. Over the next 3 months I suffered a number of panic attacks with increasing frequency. It came to the point where I would have an attack every time I left the house… so I decided the best thing to do was not to go out.

For the next 18 months I barely left the house. I still had panic attacks occasionally at home, but they weren’t as bad and I could just about cope. Every single day of my life I missed going out, I missed playing sport, being with my friends and doing what everyone else took for granted, but the truth was avoiding the panic attacks was far more important to me than leading a normal life. Eventually my family persuaded me to speak to someone about my condition. It was difficult; I didn’t feel at all comfortable doing it, but I wanted to get well. I experienced a number of severe panic attacks whilst attending therapy sessions and decided to stop all therapy – it was much nicer staying at home than having to face my fear!

Soon after making the decision to stop all therapy I learnt about Sport in Mind. The prospect of playing sport in a supported environment with other people who would understand what I was going through was an opportunity I really couldn’t pass up. I began to attend the sessions on a regular basis even though leaving the house was terrifying. I continued to have panic attacks, which were as scary as ever, but because I had the sports sessions to focus upon and look forward to every week I pushed myself to attend.

I never really considered the sessions to be therapy at the time but attending the sessions helped me more than anyone will ever know. If that opportunity to play sport hadn’t have been there for me I would just be sat at home now. I combined my cognitive behaviour therapy with playing as much sport as I could with Sport in Mind and over the course of a year my anxiety levels slowly began to reduce, enabling me to start leading a more normal life once more. Last October I finally started University and have now successfully completed my first year – everything is going really well!