My mental health journey: from anxiety to rehabilitation

Here is a heart-touching testimony from Tish, a sufferer who was stuck in the web of fierce mental health disorder. This will enable many people know the ordeal of passing through this dreaded situation. As well as giving hope to those presently in the turmoil.

Tish painstakingly narrated her ordeal, from Panic Attacks to the point of hoping for help, and finally getting recovered.


I noticed each time I left the house I would sweat all over and start to panic. As these attacks increased I shut myself in the house (my fortress). When they became worse I shut myself in my bedroom (my cocoon) with the curtains drawn and the door shut, completely isolating myself.

The symptoms of these attacks included shortness of breath, feeling pressure to go to the toilet, shutting my eyes, coughing and hyperventilating, sweating, inability to talk, shaking legs, scratching or rubbing my arms, pulling my hair, banging the bed with the pillow or hands, pacing the room and sheer exhaustion.

I would try to escape from the situation, avoid going out, seek the comfort of my bedroom, turn off the lights, shut the curtains or shout.

I felt alone, because I was trying to hide what was happening to me from my family and friends. I was depressed, angry, embarrassed and ashamed because I couldn’t cope. I had no quality of life – enough was enough. My final punishment was going to be an overdose, but I couldn’t go through with it.

Seeking Help

I phoned the duty nurse at Osborne Park Clinic and she sent out the community nurse who came straight over to calm me down. She was unsuccessful and took me to the emergency department at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. From there I was admitted to the psychiatric ward with a severe anxiety disorder.

I shut myself in my cocoon with the blinds down and door shut. It took weeks for staff to get me out of my room. The attacks were very frequent, severe and exhausting.

After about a month, my psychiatrist suggested I apply to go to Hawthorn House, a mental rehabilitation centre. Hawthorn House works on integrating its residents back into the community. You are supported to work on your individual issues, thoughts, feelings and concerns. Medication requirements are assessed and changed if necessary. This is all done in a caring environment.

Once accepted, I had to make the decision whether to take the easy path and go home and continue to isolate myself, or to go to Hawthorn House and face my issues. This was a huge step and I accepted the challenge!


My first two weeks were very tough and exhausting as my anxiety attacks increased. I felt insecure, unsafe and very alone.

As the weeks progressed my attacks decreased, I began to feel more comfortable with the staff and my surroundings. I was coming out of my cocoon more and participating in groups. My medications were changed which seemed to help for a while. I felt small improvements were being made.

After some weeks I started to feel like I was treading water and getting nowhere fast. I again retreated into my cocoon. My attacks increased and were more severe. I oozed frustration and anger and felt depressed. Outwardly I tried to present as if everything was okay. My situation was acknowledged and taken in hand by Carey and Steve, my key workers.

A few days later I had a severe battle with my voices and thoughts in my head. I felt I was losing control over myself; so I stopped eating. It felt so good to have control again.

After a few days I admitted to Carey and Steve that I was not eating, as per my care plan commitment. Steve gave me the ultimatum – eat or you have to leave Hawthorn House, due to the “duty of care” to residents. I took this very badly, was angry and felt very insecure. Rationally I knew the ultimatum needed to be given, but in my head I needed that control. After much walking, thinking, and, talking, I met with Carey and Steve. I agreed to eat my meals. The decision made me feel nauseous.

I am battling at the moment with eating and wanting to vomit up my food.

When I have settled down, feel more secure and safe at Hawthorn House, I will be ready to tackle what lies ahead with my recovery. I look forward to finding the person I used to be, or the new updated version.

 Tish reported to Western Australia Mental Health Commission

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