During the fall of 2001 something happened to me. I couldn't quite put my finger on what. It started slowly with simply not feeling "myself". Feeling unable to laugh and have fun. Feeling uptight all the time and crying a lot for no reason. Having a lump in my throat and tightness in my chest while experiencing a rapid pounding heartbeat. Being overcome with feelings sadness and dread. This continued for quite a few months.
I didn't know what was wrong and I felt awful about myself. For a person who used to feel self confident, I was now feeling completely worthless. Underserving, foolish, small, and incompetent. My self esteem was at an all time low. I never felt relaxed. I couldn't relax by myself, or even with my closest friends or family. It made no sense. At some point I remember saying to myself, "If I have to live like this, it's not worth living at all". I didn't exactly want to committ suicide, but I basically felt that if I died, it wouldn't matter, and I might be better off. It was sad. It was that moment that I decided that something really bad was wrong and that I needed help.
Unfortunately, things only got worse. I started seeing a counselor who was not an expert in anxiety and panic and I was written off as "just needing to relax" - as if I could do so automatically. I was given a prescription drug that made me sick. At this point, I was experiencing frequent dizziness, as if I was off-balance and the world was a tilt-a-whirl. I had never felt like this in my life and was horrified. I also felt completely unreal, as if i was in a dream, or watching myself in a movie. That feeling scared me the most.
Due to all of the stress, I was sick off and on for the next year. More and more symptoms seemed to be piling onto the list. The left side of my body felt slightly numb and I would get frequent muscle spasms in my legs and body. Sometime I even thought I was hallucinating, seeing things out of the corner of my eye which would cause me to panic more. Because my symptoms were so odd and nobody I talked to could relate, I started thinking for sure that I had a rare disease like a brain tumor or multiple sclerosis. I would spend all my free time researching symptoms in hope of a possible explanation. No doctors would take me seriously, writing off my condition as minor stress, and offering more drugs that I was scared to take.
By this time I could barely function, but i knew i had to go on, so i did. I powered through, trying to help myself as much as i could. I removed myself from the negative people in my life and tried to tough out my schedule and responsibilities as best I could.
I started reading anything anxiety related that i could get my hands on. I began talking to more people and finding out that others had similar problems. For some, medications worked. For some they didn't. They didn't work for me, so i began reading books and did the best i could on my own. I started taking care of myself. Realizing that at the time I had a low threshold for stress, I tried to limit my responsibilites and only take on what I knew I could handle. I started saying no more. I started eating healthier, exercising, getting enough sleep and removing negative people from my life. I read everything I could about anxiety, did as many written exercises as I had time for, used programs, and tried to practice what I was learning. Slowly over time, I started to get better little by little. I participated in weekly therapy for a few months, then cut back to once a month, then less. Therapy was helpful because I had a support person I knew I could go to, but I found that reading books and doing programs at home was invaluable since they were available to me all the time.
Today I consider myself recovered from panic and anxiety disorder. I live a normal life, work a full time job, and enjoy hobbies and being with my loved ones in my spare time. I still get anxious from time to time, but it is normal anxiety, not the debilitating pain of an anxiety disorder.
I hope my site will help you. For more about me, visit my blog, the forum, or email me.
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