Once struck down by panic attacks, teen makes film to help others
A teenager who suffered crippling anxiety attacks which caused her to miss school is speaking out to help others after creating a short film to raise awareness of the condition.
Megan Haste from Maghaberry, Co Antrim, struggled so badly it led to her being hospitalised for almost four weeks.
The 18-year-old is using her experiences to urge others going through similar struggles to seek help.
"It started when I was about 13," she said.
"I had no idea why it began and I didn't know what anxiety was or understand what I was feeling.
"I would often get breathless on the bus, and start crying for no reason when I was in class.
"This obviously affected my work, because I was hardly ever in school."
Megan then began self-harming when she was 15. By the end of her GCSE years Megan's attendance at school had dropped to 20%.
"I finally did talk to the pastoral care teacher and that did help, but it took me a while to finally start trying to get help," she said.
Now 18 and more in control of her anxiety, Megan wants to help ensure other young people with mental health issues don't let their problems pile up.
"Although I do still have my ups and downs some days, I'm more able to control it now and I want others to know they can do the same," she said.
She has now teamed up with Fixers, the charity that gives young people a voice, to make a two-minute video raising awareness about the condition.
"I spotted Fixers online and liked what they did and thought that I could get involved, and came up with the idea of the video," she explained.
Megan, who plans to share her film in schools, said: "If I'd seen a film like this when I was younger I think it would have helped me through the tough times.
"The idea is to get people talking about this issue, and one way to do that is to raise awareness in schools.
"Because the subject is still taboo, I think creating conversation around it might make it less daunting for people to open up."
She added: "I would just appeal to any young person who is feeling anxiety, or any mental health problems, to just ask for help.
"Go to your GP. There are people out there who can help. So many people can feel alone, but there is support."
Fixers works with young people aged 16-25 across the UK and provides them with resources to help them campaign on issues they feel strongly about.
The charity has helped more than 16,000 youngsters across the UK to have a voice in their community.
Link to video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMshVTLWHuM