A TEENAGER who became so anxious over school exams that she struggled to leave the house has hailed a ‘lifesaving’ cure that helped get her life back on track.
Chané Jacobs, from Essex, was 16 when she got her first panic attack.
“The first time we noticed it was when she was doing her GCSEs,” her mum Sonja said. “That’s when her anxiety started, and it was downhill from there.
“Chané quickly became withdrawn and got scared to do things she would have been able to do before. She just wasn’t leaving the house.”
Chané was eventually diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism that can affect communication skills and social interactions. It can also cause considerable anxiety.
Chané’s GP prescribed Melatonin, which is used to regulate disrupted sleep patterns as well as Sertraline to reduce her anxiety.
But these medications are only available in tablet form – and Chané had never been able to swallow a tablets.
Mum Sonja said: “Chané has always struggled with odd sleep patterns. She would be awake until 3am or 4am.
“Her mind would be racing. She would get flashbacks from the day before constantly. She just couldn’t quieten her mind.
“We tried all the natural remedies but she was anxious because she couldn’t sleep and she couldn’t sleep because she was anxious.”
Sonja, a senior NHS speech and language therapist, came across Med-Easy, a liquid swallowing aid which helps people who are either scared of taking tablets or suffer from dysphagia, a condition where it is difficult to swallow.
Sonja said: “Chané is very precious about what goes into her body and has never been able to swallow a tablet, not even as a child.
“For a long time we talked about the anxiety getting really bad but she didn’t want to take any medication. She resisted, I think, because it would be like admitting something was wrong which she could not fix herself and she was scared of the side-effects of the medication.
“The GP told us she needed to take the medication and we talked to a specialist who said the same thing, but she couldn’t because she couldn’t swallow the tablets.
“We just desperately needed to get her on medication so she could get to the point where she could do something practical about her sleep and anxiety. Everyone was becoming really worried about her.”
Sonja, the Lead Speech and Language Therapist for Complex Needs at an NHS Trust in London, came home with Med-Easy and the first night she tried it with Chané the results were instant.
She said: “The first evening we tried Med-Easy she got the tablet down. She said it felt like it was getting a bit stuck, but it was down. It was the first time she had ever managed to swallow a tablet.
“She’s really, really sensitive to taste – that’s part of her autism – but luckily she absolutely loves the taste of Med-Easy, so otherwise I think we would have had an issue.
“By the third evening she could swallow using Med-Easy without any problems. She carried on using for about a month and now because of the confidence Med-Easy has given her, she is able to swallow tablets just with water.
“It has helped her massively.
“If it wasn’t for that period – those two months when she needed it – she could have still been in an incurable position, where now anxiety is better managed, sleep is managed and she can manage to swallow tablets because she’s not to anxious.
“Without it there was no way we would have been where we are now and I think the consequences would have been quite significant, because the anxiety was really getting the better of her. The wheels had really come off.
“Now there is a day and night difference with her sleep and because her sleep is better she is not always tired and so it help to lift her mood.
“We went rock climbing and abseiling in Snowdonia last week. She never would have done that a year ago.”
Chané is now studying through the Open University and is looking for a part time job, which Sonja says is an incredible leap in her development.
“Before she couldn’t even talk about things like that without coming down with sweats,” Sonja said. “For Chané, talking to a stranger is unheard of.
“We can now talk about the future without her getting in a panic. It has made such a massive difference to everyone.”