It all started when I was a teenager and I began juggling a lot of things at once – everything from my family to my school caused me stress. I remember getting a part time job at the library one summer during the eighth grade, and that at least was a calm escape from my family and household chores (not the most exciting job for any teenager!). But when I returned to school during the fall I began to have my fears. They would just be about the smallest details but I couldn’t get stop the paranoia. I had to make sure multiple times that the door was locked before I could leave the house. I was so afraid my cat would die. Not getting to anywhere on time made me panic that people would get angry and will stop being my friend.
A normal person would think them unreasonable, but that’s one part of anxiety – you get obsessed with these thoughts so much that it can take over your normal routine. You can’t just change your mindset instantly. I started to worry about small life details so much, and then came the panic attacks.
I could not explain well to anyone who has not experienced it just how traumatizing an attack is. It would be best described as a feeling of dying – made much worse by the humiliation of the unknown cause that triggered the attack. I would have understood if the panic attack happened in most stressful situations, but sometimes, it comes out of nowhere.
I could be in the mall and suddenly I would feel nauseated. I would feel like I was hearing every one’s voices all at the same time. I would have difficulty breathing, and my heart would beat so fast.
Though each attacked happened quite differently, some factors like vertigo, light-headedness, cold sweat, and the sense of just wanting to disappear were always the same. There were times when I wanted to run but I couldn’t move, I would just be “blinded” by the lights that would otherwise be tolerable in a normal setting. Because I didn’t know better, each time I thought I was going to die.
My family noticed and worried that I was really sick. So they did what any parent would do, they brought me to the hospital to seek help from doctors. Lo and behold, I was diagnosed with general anxiety disorder.