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Joan, 43


I start panicking. I’m thinking: what if I faint?

It starts very mild but always in the same place: the supermarket. Which is always very crowded. As soon as I am close by, around 100 meters, my heartrate goes up. I feel my heart pumping all the blood through my veins, I feel it bouncing and bouncing. A shiver runs down my spine.

When I arrive at the entrance of the supermarket, I am already sweating heavily. I start feeling dizzy, my body starts shaking and I am short of breath. I start panicking. I’m thinking: what if I faint? I feels like that might happen. What if I get a heart attack? What if I die? Right here, on the ground?

It feels so real, I feel so frightened that I immediately start running away from the supermarket. Once I am home, I slowly calm down. I always drink some water and take paracetamol. In case of emergencies I even take my medication: oxazepam, although my GP tells me not to use this that often. It feels safe to always have this with me. Just in case.

Nowadays I refuse to go the supermarket anymore. But that’s actually really awkward. How am I supposed to do the groceries? Luckily the kids can help out most of the time. But still it is very annoying. Also, last week I had a new panic attack in the school yard. The same feeling, but in a different place. I really don’t feel like going to the school yard anymore. And now it ‘s starting to control my life. I feel guilty,  weak, and sometimes even depressed. As a new expat I don’t really have a lot of friends here. So it’s hard to talk to someone about it. My husband has been here for quite some time now, but for me it’s all still very new. And I don’t want to complain to my kids and my husband about my feelings. I just need help.

Luckily my husband already had a general practitioner here (everyone has to have a GP in the Netherlands in order to be referred to a specialist), so I went there. They were very friendly and referred me to PsyQ International. I’ve already had a few first sessions there and it feels good to finally tackle my issues. It would be such a relief to go back to the supermarket again without any fear. Something to look forward to.