Panic attacks were all consuming for a former south-west woman

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OUT OF THE SHADOWS: Dianne Hunt has battled with anxiety since the age of 16. At the time she was diagnosed, anxiety was a condition not many people were aware of. Picture: Supplied

OUT OF THE SHADOWS: Dianne Hunt has battled with anxiety since the age of 16. At the time she was diagnosed, anxiety was a condition not many people were aware of. Picture: Supplied

In loving memory of Sam

ANXIETY is not something the sufferer can just “get over”, according to a former Port Fairy woman.

Dianne Hunt, 59, has suffered from panic attacks since the age of 16 and would be a rich woman if she had a dollar for every time someone scoffed at her condition.

“People would say to you ‘just get over it’,” Mrs Hunt said.

However, this was an impossible feat, she said.

“You’ve got no control over it,” she said.

When the anxiety takes hold, Mrs Hunt feels certain she was having a heart attack. “You think you’re dying,” she said.

Mrs Hunt, who now lives in Mackay in Queensland, recalled experiencing a panic attack while at a Coles supermarket.

“I remember one day I was in town and I had to leave my groceries, I just dumped them and I bolted to the car and went straight to my doctor’s surgery,” she said.

“By the time I got to the doctor’s surgery my hands were glued to the steering wheel.”

Mrs Hunt said she first experienced a panic attack in the middle of the night after watching the movie Bonnie and Clyde.

“I woke up in bed and felt all funny,” she said.

“I raced into my mother’s room and I had no idea what was going on. I thought I was going crazy.”

The doctor’s initially thought she was suffering from a virus and sent her home.

The next day she was again overcome with anxiety.

“I started to feel a bit funny and I got on my pushbike and rode straight down to the doctor’s,” she said.

Mrs Hunt was told by her doctor she was suffering from anxiety and was put on medication.

When she was diagnosed with anxiety, the condition was something that was never spoken about.

“You didn’t hear about it, you didn’t read about it,” she said. Mrs Hunt said she would have periods of good health before the panic attacks struck again.

“I have been to quite a few doctors and psychiatrists over the years and I have learnt so much,” she said.

“I wish I knew what I knew now back then.”

Mrs Hunt shared her story in support of the Let’s Talk initiative.

If you are willing to share your story to raise awareness about mental health email mpatterson@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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