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“I am not afraid to ask for help now” - Peter’s story

Man showing chest pain

Peter Wraxall was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after his heart attack and cardiac arrest. He feels things have now taken a turn for the better.

Many people experience depression and anxiety following a heart event. Fifteen per cent of people who have survived a heart attack become seriously depressed in the first few weeks, while another 25 per cent experience milder levels of depressive or anxiety symptoms.

Peter Wraxall, 35, was at home in Manchester when he had a heart attack. Peter says: “It was a Saturday. I woke up and I felt out of sorts; like I had really bad flu and I was burning up, so I got a wet flannel and put it on my head and lay in bed.

“Later on, at about 6pm, I started to get a pain in my chest. My friend was staying at the time so I shouted to him to call an ambulance.”

The cardiologist told Peter, who has suffered from high blood pressure since the age of 19, that he’d had a heart attack and, after a six-day stay in hospital, he was discharged.

I am a lot more positive than I was this time last year

Peter continued to feel unwell and the day after being discharged, he rang his friend Adnan to ask him to sit with him because he was worried about being on his own. As Adnan made tea, Peter had a cardiac arrest. Adnan called an ambulance and performed CPR until it arrived.

Peter was admitted to hospital for four weeks and was fitted with an ICD to help prevent further cardiac arrests. Peter was discharged but he continued to feel anxious. “I couldn’t sleep in the bedroom where it had happened, so I slept on the sofa for six months,” he says. “If I tried to walk past the bedroom, I would have a panic attack.”

Peter became increasingly withdrawn and says he found it difficult to talk to friends, or to his mum and dad.

Eventually, Peter’s mum took him to see his GP, who diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder. He gave Peter medication and referred him to a professional counsellor. “The counselling was absolutely brilliant,” says Peter. “It’s easier to speak to someone I don’t know who isn’t going to judge me or get upset.

“I am a lot more positive than I was this time last year. It was still quite new to me then and I know that I was afraid of asking people for help. I am not afraid to ask now.”

Peter is now hoping to return to college and continue his studies in social work.

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