I’ve had an anxiety disorder for more than 20 years. I am sharing my story today in the hopes that others might see some of it in themselves and get help if they need to.
Anxiety is a nasty beast. It rears its ugly head when you least expect it, and once it does, it doesn’t like to keep quiet. For me, it started about 20 years ago with what I call “spells” – a sudden dizziness, heart palpitations, blurred vision, and shaking. I didn’t know what it was for a long time, and naively diagnosed myself with low blood sugar. But the spells kept coming, seemingly out of nowhere. Then, the spells started to evolve. I would hyperventilate, shake uncontrollably, and my heart felt like it was going to explode. This was enough for me to finally go see my doctor. I was diagnosed with a panic disorder – an uncontrollable physiological reaction to stress. I did talk therapy for a while and it helped me to learn some coping techniques. Things got under control, for many years.
I was doing fine until last year, when the attacks suddenly resurfaced. I realized it was likely because of the culmination of some stressful events happening in my life, but this time it also came along with depression, which was new for me. So not only was my anxiety at an all time high, I couldn’t get out of bed some days. Fun combo.
Anxiety is a nasty beast. It rears its ugly head when you least expect it, and once it does, it doesn’t like to keep quiet.
Back to the doctor I went and this time, we opted for a regimen of medication to try and get things back in balance. I was reluctant at first, not wanting to be “on drugs” but after much research and discussion with my doc, I realized that it was the best course of action for me.
I also enrolled in a mindfulness course, again at the recommendation of my doctor. That course was really eye-opening for me, as it helped me to realize that I was letting my emotions rule my life, and that I needed to turn things around in order to be able to function normally again.
I’m happy to say that it’s been a year since my diagnosis of anxiety and depression, and I’m doing really well. I’ve learned some new ways to deal with stress and most importantly I have learned how to make sure I have the right balance of rest, exercise and diet to keep me on the right path.
If you think you are experiencing any of the symptoms of anxiety or depression, I strongly urge you visit your doctor. There are many treatment options available and it does help, I promise. You don’t have to suffer in silence. Talk about it. Together we can end the stigma of mental illness.