“It is very hard to explain to people who have never known serious depression or anxiety the sheer continuous intensity of it. There is no off switch.” – quote by Matt Haig
I have been living with anxiety for about 10 years now, that I know of at least. It’s been a long road, but at least now I know what it is, and what I’m dealing with. It hasn’t been easy, and it’s not something that will go away. I’ll be living with anxiety for the rest of my life, but I’m determined to not let it control my life.
This is my story of how I discovered that I had anxiety, and how I had to learn to deal with anxiety and panic attacks.
I wasn’t working at the time. I was a full time college student, and married. Things were going good, but I was dealing with stress from school, studying, and taking care of the home. It doesn’t sound all that bad, but then two things happened. One of our cats was diagnosed with cancer, and three days later, my husband was laid off from work that same week. All of these events happening at the same time was too much for my mind I guess, and I had a melt down. I broke. I just broke.
It felt very strange to me, because I had never had anything like this happen before. But I was scared. Scared because I was worried about how were we going to pay the bills, scared that maybe my cat was going to die, and scared that I was going to fail all my classes. Now, to someone that is “normal”, these things probably would have been easier to deal with, but for someone that has anxiety, it was all very depressing. I crashed like a car hitting a brick wall. I couldn’t function. It was hard to get off of the sofa, but I wasn’t sleeping, I was just staring at the television. I couldn’t leave the house, which was the worst thing for me. If I needed to take out the trash, I had to run and then run back into the house. I couldn’t be outside at all. It was so weird to me! And then, I was afraid to drive. I couldn’t even sit behind the wheel of my car. I was crying all the time. But, none of this was a stranger to my mother. God bless her, because she knew what I was going through, and said that I needed to go get help. She was right, and I ended up going to see both a psychiatrist and got into psychotherapy sessions. I did both of these things for one year, and it was the best thing that I could have done to help myself understand what I was experiencing, and how to live with anxiety and panic attacks.
In the beginning, it was tough. Sometimes, I’d get a panic attack inside the car while my husband was driving, and I’d start banging for him to open the door and let me out. Sometimes we wouldn’t even make it to go and see the therapist. I’m always surprised that he even tolerated my behavior, it wasn’t easy for me, and I’m sure that it wasn’t eas for him either. But I was lucky, unlike some other people. I got a very reliable, and just two good, good doctors that helped me when I needed it the most. It took me about four months before I felt comfortable driving again. I had to stop going to school. I lost friends, but I guess if they couldn’t deal with me being sick, then they probably weren’t really my friends to begin with. My husband did get another job, so I was alone during the days, and that was hard on me too. Luckily, I had a neighbor that would come and check on me once a day, and my sister stopped by after work sometimes. I did have one friend that worked right down the street, so she would try and help me get used to being outside again by coming by and taking me out, but it wasn’t easy. I had a huge fear of being outside. But there were days that no one could be with me, and on those days, I’d work on taking myself outside. In the beginning, I’d just walk out to the front, which was about 40 steps, and then sit on a wall, and I’d watch the woodpeckers up in the trees. That was my “thing”, and I did that for about two months. Believe me when I say, just doing that, was very hard for me. But I had to take baby steps, and that’s where I started. After time, I got back to being myself again. But with some major changes to my daily routines.
Everyday, I take one Prozac pill in the morning. To this day, I call it my “pill of happiness”. It’s a small amount, and it helps me. But, I have to say, that I believe that the psychotherapy sessions helped a lot. I learned what to do whenever I feel a panic attack coming on, and to this day, what she taught me then helps me now. If you’ve never experienced anxiety or panic attacks, I know you have no idea of what I’m saying, but just know that the fear is real. The emotions that you are dealing with are very real, and are very scary. Sometimes, they are small, and don’t last long. Other times, I’ve had a panic attack that lasted much longer, and it’s drained me completely, to where all I want to do is get into bed, and read or listen to nature sounds, which seems to help me.
Living with anxiety and panic attacks is a real thing, it’s not made-up, it’s an illness. It’s not easy on the person with them, and it’s not easy on their loved ones. But, you can live with this, and you can learn how to deal with the attacks. It also helps me to have a few people that I can call and talk to if I’m getting a attack, and since they understand what I’m dealing with, then they know how to help me get through it, and calm me down.
If you feel that you may have anxiety, but aren’t sure, please go and search out professional help. It will be one of the best things you’ll do for yourself. Know that you can learn to deal with this, and life will still be good. Life is good, so be good to yourself, and always, always try and get the help you need to have the best days that you can.