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Netball, panic attacks and starting at the bottom…

I shared a post not so long ago, about how I’ve been feeling pretty run down these last few weeks and months.

Exhausted to be quite honest, with everything going on, both mentally and physically.

With the relentless summer holidays (my kids are constantly fighting at the moment!), return to school, setting up of a new business and pressure of earning to keep my family afloat and other personal issues it’s been so mentally draining that I honestly don’t know how I’m still functioning… Oh, and then catching Covid last month on top of it all.

That really was the straw that broke the camel’s back, literally 🐫😩

I’ve been trying to attack my return to business (and life) with my usual vigour but I’m very much paddling upstream at the moment, as I’ve just not had enough time to get things in place and running as efficiently as I’d like.

it’s felt like one step forward and three steps back with everything at the moment and it’s tough to take.

Yet again, I’m running on empty, spinning too many plates, taking on far too much of the mental load, trying to be a GREAT MUM, building up a business and brand and launchMing and promoting new classes and programmes (I never learn!).

I am, as always, trying to please and support too many people who are also struggling…. Whilst stretching myself so thinly and forgetting about me, that now I’m the one struggling and in need of support 😔

So easily done isn’t it… and as women, and mothers, we do this far too often.

Last week, I returned to netball after my coronavirus hiatus and it was my first league match, ever as the season has just kicked off.

Previously, I had played in junior school and for a brief game or two in Uni when I thought it would be fun to join a team again.

(I soon got bored and instead went with my favourite student hobby, drinking alcohol).

Those who have followed my story will know, I started on the back to netball development team, for a few months pre-Covid in 2019 to try to improve my fitness levels that were ZERO back then and one of my goals for 2020, was to try out for the team, eventually.

Rob took this photo in Jan 2019 just before I left for my first experience of ‘back to netball’. I was determined to change my body, my fitness level and my poor mental health

Obviously it wasn’t to be so the first chance at doing this was in August 2021, and I hadn’t even played a game of netball in 18 months!

Despite my fitness levels now being not bad (or at least they were ok until the ‘rona hit!), it’s my understanding of the game that’s the biggest challenge I face, and with players in my team that have been playing regularly since school in competitive netball teams and leagues, I have a LOT to learn. And fast!

I am RIGHT back at the bottom.

I’ve been trying my best to get up to scratch, but it’s very evident that I’m way, way behind the experience, skills and knowledge of the rest of the squad, and obviously 2 weeks out due to illness has not helped in the run up either!

Just before I started back to netball in 2019!

I managed to get through the first quarter but could feel that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach rising, fear, panic, anxiety… self-doubt. My lungs could feel the longer effects of Covid and I felt embarrassed to not be able to keep on my player.

With every move I bashed myself mentally, telling myself I wasn’t good enough, that I was letting the team down and that I shouldn’t be there…. Which saw me lose my focus even more. I made even more stupid mistakes.

When the whistle blew I quietly left the fire exit and managed to get a few steps away from everyone else before the mass of feeling exploded and I found myself under a tree trying to calm myself down from a panic attack.

The worst thing about panic attacks, and you’ll know this if you have/ had them, is that not only are you upset over the reason you’re having one, but you’re also then left feeling embarrassed by having one in the first place.

Making a scene.

God I must look like a right fool.

We are conditioned to ‘keep calm and carry on’ and that we should HIDE our emotion and not sit with it, allow it and be ok with it.

I knew I had to get my emotions in check and somehow get myself back in there and on court, but I honestly couldn’t stop the floods of tears and if I had had my bag (and van keys!) I’ll be honest, I would have walked away and maybe never came back.

After about 15 minutes I eventually forced myself to go back inside, feeling even worse that I knew it was going to be obvious that I had been crying and trying not to let that feeling set me off again.

I spoke to one of the girls who could see I was upset, who of course, was lovely, but I still couldn’t shake that feeling and just wanted the match to finish and to go home and cry some more.

As I sat there I had a realisation. I had two options. I could leave now, go home and never return to netball or I could face my fear now, whilst it was still real and just push through and try to just make it ‘not as big a deal’.

Ive never let fear of failure or not being good enough at something get in my way before. I’m stronger than that and I KNOW that I just need to get better. And the only way I’m going to get better… is to keep on playing.

So, that’s what I did. I went back on for the final quarter and we were even which meant there was even more tension in this final round - no pressure then 🥴

I still wasn’t amazing, but I used that feeling in my stomach to fuel my fire and not my self-doubt. I pushed the feelings of failure deep down and just focused on the things I did know and had learned - not the things I didn’t.

I even got headbutted in the cheek and got my first netball injury… a right shiner on my cheekbone 🙈


It’s going to take a long time until I’m anywhere near as good as the rest of the team, but I’m hoping that with their skills and experience and my fitness passion and determination, I’ll get there.

One day I won’t be at ‘the bottom’ any longer, I won’t be the new girl and I won’t be the least experienced.

But for now, I’ll own it, I’ll sit with it and I’ll do my best….

… And I won’t give up, because that‘s the only way to ever get better at something, isn’t it? 🧡

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