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Acadia

Acadia

Well-known member
Joined
May 6, 2016
Messages
343
Location
Ohio, USA
Hello everyone! I'll just share a little bit about my story, in the hopes that it can be an encouragement to someone here.

I have dealt with anxiety my entire life (which I'm sure may be true for many of you here as well). Ever since I was a little girl I remember worrying all the time, usually about my health. I was always afraid that I was going to get sick or hurt and die. I couldn't even hear about a particular disease or illness without being terrified that I was going to get it. I was afraid of getting old like my grandparents, because then I would be closer to the end of my life. I talked to God all the time and continually asked him to allow me to live a long life.

As I got older I also struggled with situational and social anxieties. I didn't want to be around people I didn't really know and felt extremely anxious in certain situations. I've always been an introvert, and I kept to myself a lot.

Then I experienced my first out-of-nowhere panic attack. I had experienced panic attacks before this, but always in certain situations, like public speaking or serving people at my job, and I just dealt with them as best I could, by avoidance. The first out-of-nowhere, and for apparently no reason, panic attack happened in the middle of the night, when I was safely in my own room, the room I had had since I was a little girl. I had always felt safest there, in my own space. I woke up during the night, and as I was trying to get back to sleep, it hit me. I started to feel really weird and everything seemed far away and surreal. I remember stumbling out of bed and going upstairs and just sitting up there playing on the computer for awhile, trying to distract myself until it went away. I was pretty sure it was a panic attack, but it felt different and I wasn't sure why it had happened, which really scared me.

Looking back now (and from insight gained through talking with my doctor and my counselor), I believe that there were a few things that just became overwhelming to me during that time in my life and caused the anxiety to become more severe. I had just finished college, and when I moved back home I lost my job and was really struggling to find another one. My social anxiety made certain jobs impossible, so I had to move back in with my parents and I felt a tremendous amount of guilt about this. I was finished school, couldn't find a job and wasn't really working towards anything for the first time in my life.

Then my grandpa passed away. He was my last living grandparent, and I guess nothing in life felt the same anymore. I just didn't know where my life was going or what I was supposed to do, and I believe it all caught up with me, as I was already an anxious person to begin with.

After the middle of the night panic attacks started, I would have at least one a week. I tried to deal with them, but I was afraid that maybe they weren't just panic attacks, but a sign of another health problem or even a more serious mental illness. The most frightening thing for me with the feelings of disconnection and disassociation I experienced and the intrusive thoughts, most commonly the fear that I would hurt someone else in some way. I didn't trust my own brain anymore, and I didn't understand what it was doing, and this terrified me.

At about 4:30 am one morning, I had a major panic attack that seemed to go on for a long long time. I decided I needed to go up to the hospital. They did some tests and called in a counselor to talk with me. I felt like I was in some kind of fog. Later that morning I made some calls and got into see my doctor and a counselor. And so began my road to recovery and healing, a road I'm still travelling as I continue to live with anxiety every day.

Anxiety may very well always be a part of my life, as it is for many, but I am so thankful that counseling and medication were able to help me. Although I really did not want to take medication, and cried and felt terrible at the thought that I needed it to feel "normal", I also recognized that I needed to try to get better. I am so grateful that I didn't need to try numerous medications, the first one I tried made a huge difference. I haven't had an extreme middle of the night panic attack since the medication took effect. (And I know the counseling was equally helpful).

It's been about 8 years since those extreme panic attacks, and I have come a long way. I would say my anxiety is at a manageable level and I have learned many coping mechanisms and gained valuable insight into this often terrifying illness.

My hope in being here is to share my story and use my experiences to help others. There is hope, things will get better. I was once at a place where I really didn't see how I could possibly ever get my life back. I couldn't even sleep in my room anymore, because that's where the panic attacks had started. Now though, I have done so many things I never would have believed I could do. I met a wonderful man and moved from Canada to the United States to marry him. Doing so meant going through a visa process, which included a nearly 30 hour train trip (alone), for the interview and medical. And although it's hard being so far from home, I have realized I can do it.

Above all, I thank God for the people He has put in my life all along the way to help me, and for the healing He has brought into my life. I hope that I can give back, even in some small way to other people who are on this journey as well. Please feel free to message me if you ever want to talk.

God bless you!
 
Unique1

Unique1

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Messages
8,765
Location
UK
Hi Acadia.
Thank you for sharing with us, some of your story here :)
And :welcome: to the forum.
I'm glad you found us.

With all good wishes to you.
Unique xx
 
Foxjo

Foxjo

Well-known member
Moderator
Joined
Jan 2, 2012
Messages
6,945
Location
Teesside
Hi and welcome to the forum x
thanks for sharing your story it's good to hear such positivity.
Good to have you here on the forum!
Hugs
fox
 
D

daylily

New member
Joined
May 9, 2016
Messages
1
So glad I am not the only one

Thank you for sharing your story. I am new to this site and this is my first post.

Although our lives and circumstances are different, the early childhood anxiety and later in life panic attics are very similar. I felt like I was reading about myself in many ways.

I, too, worried all the time as a child and especially about health issues. (Still struggle with these issues but as adult I know why I get anxious. I get anxious about anything I can't control.). Of course, I know realistically I don't control anything! God does.

The mind is a very powerful thing! When I was 33 I had stomach pain in one area and convinced myself it was an ulcer. It took 2 years, 3 doctors, and several medical tests to reveal "nothing was wrong with me". Then why did I have pain?! One doctor told me I needed to quit crying so much and go on. I was crying a lot because I felt so sick. I was nauseous and had a pain in my stomach for 3 years and even a specialist said nothing was wrong. Oh, no! I had to have something really bad like cancer.

Well, we moved to another state. I was nervous and shaky all the time. I stopped eating most food because I "thought" it was making me sick. I ate very little each day and spent the day on the couch crying and sleeping feeling so desperate. My husband is so great. He didn't know what to do and he had tears in his eyes every morning when he went to work.

Finally I had to get a new doctor under our new insurance. Went in and told him I thought I had ulcer, couldn't swallow much, lost a lot of weight over 3 years and had recently had these scopes and CT scans. He did a very quick exam and lightly pressed around my stomach. He then proceeded to tell me he didn't think I had an ulcer. He said "I believe you have anxiety and your esophagus is so tight from the stress." I was shocked. No one ever told me this and I had no clue what it was. I said to the doctor, "Do you think I'm doing this to myself?"!! He gently explained anxiety and made an appointment right then for me with a psychiatrist.

It's been 20 years since then. I've been to 3 different psychologists at different time periods and that has helped. I had the same psychiatrist for 12 years and he was wonderful. I had to try different meds, had a few panic attacks, but am in maintenance mode. I also have depression. For me it is the flip side of anxiety. The anxiety wears my brain (and body) out. Next I experience the downside of depression usually.

I am a devout believer in Jesus Christ and try to daily pray and dwell on God's Word. It is so mind-boggling to me that I KNOW the truth but that gets overridden by those ugly thoughts that hurt me. Many times I can reach out and call upon Jesus and my thinking becomes more rational. Other times I stumble and can't get up!

I always feel so ashamed of my condition and I don't want to tell anyone because they cannot really understand. (By the way we moved to another state 5 years ago so all new faces and family physician is helping me.). There are times that it seems too much for me to go to a function or even church because all I want to do is stay home and feel safe and not have to think about what others may think of me.

My family knows, of course, and I'm labeled "fragile ".

Thankfully I am blessed beyond measure with the greatest husband in the world. He loves me so much unconditionally and if I ask for a logical viewpoint he helps me. I don't trust many of my decisions because I feel like emotions dominate me vs rational thinking.

I don't know if I'd be here today if I did not have God as my Lord. In the last year I have really only started to experience and learn how very much God loves me and cares about every detail of my life. Someday I will not have this struggle. I will be made perfect and live forever in Heaven with God and other believers. There is hope!

(I apologize if this post should be in the anxiety forum. Please feel free to move it. I'm new and will do better next time.) :redface:
 
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Acadia

Acadia

Well-known member
Joined
May 6, 2016
Messages
343
Location
Ohio, USA
Welcome Daylily :) Thank you so much for sharing your story. I too am always encouraged to know I am not alone. It does sound like we have a lot in common, although of course each and every person's journey is unique. :)

I'm very glad that you know Jesus as your Saviour and that you lean on Him in your life and especially in the more difficult times. I know that sometimes I have wondered why God allows us to continue struggling rather than completely removing all suffering from our lives, but I remember what Paul talks about in regard to our trials.



I'm also very glad that you found an understanding doctor who cared and wanted to assist you in finding help. I know that we have come a long way as a society and in the medical profession when it comes to diagnosing and treating mental illness, but there is still a long way to go. We need to keep talking about it and being honest, as all of us on here are doing in some way.

And it's wonderful that you have such an understanding and caring husband, that can make all the difference. I am so grateful for my husband too, he always takes the time to listen and be there for me.

Moving can be difficult as well. As I wrote initially, I moved far from my home in Canada to come to the U.S. and marry my now husband. There are times when I miss home so much, and I just wish I could go back to stay. (I don't mean I want to leave my husband, just that I wish we could move to Canada and I could be closer to family and friends). The move has caused me to struggle more with my anxiety than I have since before counseling and starting medication, but it's still manageable, and for that I am extremely grateful.

I just want to say, although I can completely understand feeling ashamed, you have NOTHING to be ashamed of when it comes to your anxiety. And although some may have labeled you "fragile", you certainly are not. I truly believe that anyone who is dealing with a mental illness, even if they are really struggling, is not weak. The challenges we face, when we are doing our best to move forward, get help and get to a better place, make us stronger people. Everything you've been through has given you more courage and understanding, including bravely sharing your story here. :)

I do know what it feels like to just want to stay home. I spend most of my days in the house, not going anywhere. I still don't know very many people around here, and I am still searching for a job that won't trigger my anxiety and cause outright panic attacks. So, I feel pretty isolated sometimes just being alone, on top of missing everyone I left behind in Canada. And yet, I don't want to go out and be around lots and lots of people. I've always been the kind of person who has a small number of close friends, not a social butterfly who knows lots of people but is not as close to any one person.


God bless you. <3
 
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