When did I decide to stop living in denial? While lying on a plane gangway during a panic attack

I had refused to accept my PTSD had returned. But on a flight to Budapest it became impossible to ignore

It is hard to pinpoint the worst moment of your life. But when I think about my lowest ebb, a certain image begins to solidify: me, lying in the gangway of a plane, the cabin crew administering oxygen via a canister and a mask as we descend to Budapest airport and other passengers look on (bemused or horrified, I couldn’t say). A couple of minutes previously, a fog had descended on me as I sat in the seat next to my boyfriend; peculiar black clouds coalesced at the margins of my vision. I was passing out. “I need to lie down,” I said, with some urgency. “I need to lie down, now.”

Why does this image stand out? I suppose it is because, ultimately, it is about denial – and the point at which that stops being possible. The thing I didn’t want to know was that I was ill. Again. I had no business being on a plane. I had only been able to get on the plane at all as a result of the large white wine and two co-codamol tablets I had necked at the airport. It was no doubt the chemical effects of these that led to me almost blacking out. That and the fact I had been hyperventilating for the duration of the flight.

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