Sunday, 6 January 2013

Attack Of The Panic


I am twenty-seven years old.

I had been dying my naturally blond hair to the darkest ebony I could find for eight years. I have had many variations of colour including a blond streak (dyed in).

It all started about ten months ago. Around the time the influx of horror stories about hair dye trickled in to the trashy magazines I loved so much. I had read them with the same apathy I reserve for most of the ridiculous stories they print but I had no idea something stuck.

A few weeks later I had decided I wanted the blond streak back. After I had applied the dye, I was fine. About twenty minutes in, I started getting breathless, my heart started pounding and I started to get dizzy. My breathing was erratic, laboured so I thought I was having an allergic reaction to the dye.  I quickly washed it all off but it didn’t seem to help. I began to panic (unaware that I was already panicking) and called NHS Direct. They went through my list of symptoms and helped me understand that I wasn’t having an allergic reaction but I was having a full blown panic attack.

I had no idea what had brought it on. I wasn’t thinking about the stories I had read; I had completely forgotten about them, but something must have remained in my mind. That is the only explanation I had.  I tried to forget about it, going on with my normal routine. When my roots started to show and it was time for me to dye my hair black again, I had only a few jitters about it. As the dye went on, I was fine. Ten minutes in the same thing happened, breathless, dizzy and a wave of hot panic spread over me. I was convinced that I was having an allergic reaction, washed it all off and sat hyperventilating in the bathroom.

I was determined to remain my artificial colour and beat this new anxiety so I pushed on. The next time my roots showed, I tried again. The same thing happened. At this point I started to research hair dye, I did it to try and convince myself that the symptoms I was having were nothing like that of an allergic reaction. It did nothing but fuel my fear. I began to look in to all natural hair dye, if there was no PPD then it couldn’t hurt me. I spent quite a bit of money stocking up on all natural hair dye but when I opened the box, the same warning label was there. Another panic attack ensued.

Out of fear and desperation, I decided I would go back to my natural hair colour. Let the black grow out and then cut it all off, start afresh. That is what I have done; I now have all natural, very short hair. It was very hard but it seemed like the only option I had. I’m trying to embrace it.

I wish the story ended here.

I would like to point out that I have never had an allergic reaction to anything in my life. Not one thing so my fear is completely unfounded.

Now I have realised that I am anxious about allergic reactions completely, with anything. It didn’t help that my boyfriend had a moderate allergic reaction to Paracetamol and that seemed to cement my fear. It is bleeding in to other areas of my life. Being ill and having a poor immune system, I am on a lot of prescription drugs. I have noticed that I get a familiar ‘hot panic’ feeling when I take anything new. I have had to stop reading side effects as this sends me in to a panic attack; it is the same if anyone reads them to me. It has spread so far now that I won’t allow anyone to dye their hair in my house as I’m scared that they will have an allergic reaction.
This is crazy! I used to think I was invincible but now I’m scared of everything. The panic attacks have become more frequent, I can have them at any time now, and they don’t have to be attributed to anything. I feel like they are stealing my life, my identity and I have no idea how to stop them. I have tried overcoming my fear, battling through it but it only made it worse.

I am powerless.

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