After arriving in Australia from Brazil with her husband, and shortly after having their first child Thelma was challenged adapting to her new life. The anxious thoughts she had experienced since she was young intensified, and she realised she needed help.
Seeking support from a GP has been a turning point for Thelma, and she is now a passionate advocate for normalising conversations about mental health.
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I can’t remember when it started. I don't remember my first panic attack.
Physically, my heart starts racing. I couldn't breathe. I feel the need to scratch myself.
It's just so much pain, and I thought that the physical pain was more bearable than the pain that I was feeling in my heart.
When I was in Brazil, when I was younger, I would have these panic attacks by myself and you would eventually pass.
Growing up in Brazil was very fun, very happy.
I was always a shy person, the person who wouldn't talk much. I grew up with the notion that I needed to solve my own issues and they were my problems. I couldn't share.
I remember feeling very anxious and I remember going to bed praying to wake up as a different person. I was a child when I started having these when I started feeling like this.
My whole life I felt stigmatised I felt afraid of talking about it I felt like it was only me. I felt like everyone was happy but me.
Well, that led me to talk to my GP.
First thing that helped me a lot was acknowledging, understanding that this is not something that it's only me, that I wasn't alone.
The first thing I would say to everyone is talk, talk about it. Open up with someone you trust. It took me a very long time to understand everything. And that's when I realized what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be. And from that point on, I had a reason to be myself.
I had a reason to live. I had a reason to go on. And I had a reason to be happy because I liked the person that I was becoming.
Sometimes I feel like I'm just starting my life now. I know that looking inside can be very painful, but when you go through it, the other side is amazing.
So, my doctor changed my life.