A big part of my panic disorder is ruled by agoraphobia- a fear of places/situations that might cause me to panic and become embarrassed. My worst fear is that I have a panic attack in some place where people notice and think I am crazy. I know in reality people can’t actually tell when I’m having a panic attack (unless you know me- I do have some tics that those close to me recognize), but I am still terrified that I will be somewhere new, start to panic, be trapped in the situation, and panic.
Your wedding day is supposed to be one to remember in a good way. And for many, many reasons, mine was. I married my best friend and the love of my life. I was surrounded by my family and friends. I had my dream dress, dream venue, etc. Everything should have been perfect.But stupid anxiety reared its ugly head.
I was originally diagnosed with a Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) in 2003. GAD affects 6.8 million adults (3.1 percent of the U.S. population) in any given year. I exhibited the classic signs of GAD at the time; I was overwhelmingly concerned about everything in my life and constantly felt like the worst was going to happen.
One second. One minute. One hour. One day.
That’s how I moved forward after my friend’s death. My anxiety had hit a breaking point and I was on the slow path toward feeling better.
The panic attack during my friend’s funeral wasn’t a one-time thing. As the days passed, they became more and more frequent. I began having trouble sleeping, spending a significant amount of time crying and shaking at night, being consoled by my father.
The worst, though, occurred during the school day. I would get up every day and go to school, but shortly after classes began, the panic started. It was particularly bad in my AP U.S. Government class, where the teacher called me out one day on my anxiety and told me to get it together. I began spending more time in the nurse’s office than in a classroom.
The days following my friend’s suicide were a blur. I remember walking to school the day after his death in my pajamas, carrying a teddy bear and a box of tissues. The guidance department at my school set up a room where all those who knew him could come and grieve together. Most of the week following his death was spent in that room. I was understandably upset but my anxiety was still muted, the shock of his death overpowering any other emotion.
The day of his funeral was when things started to change. Continue reading
When I was in elementary school, I would hang on to the wire fence outside of my public school before class began. I screamed and cried about being separated from my parents. Once they left, I was fine. But getting to that point was emotional and anxiety-filled.
This daily experience is indicative of what I was like as a child. I was not relaxed by any means. I was a sensitive, anxious child during a time when mental illness in children was not widely addressed. Although I was often plagued by nerves, I still managed to have a relatively normal, happy childhood.