This Baggage is Old -- My Anxiety Story Part 2


As I left of from Part 1, middle school and high school were very good years. It's not that I didn't feel anxiety. I think it was as mild as it ever was, and I knew how to go on with life despite the symptoms.

Just like anyone who transitions into a new phase of life, I experienced anxiety as I started college. After the first few weeks, I settled in just fine. I loved college life. I was a social butterfly. I did well in all my classes. Freshman and sophomore year were easy breezy.

My Junior year, I had an apartment with some friends. I was on the dance team. I finally had some direction as far as my future career. I should have felt on top of the world!

BUT

I began to find myself easily over stimulated. I wasn't enjoying begin among lots of people. I felt the need to escape music and noise for silent solitude. I was finding it difficult to attend classes, because I was feeling ill all the time.

Over spring break, I was driving up north to an immersion experience. While I was driving, I remember distinctly the feeling of having gone into a "zone." After that I realized I go into that zone often when I am in groups of people. I don't know how to describe this. It's just this total inward focus in an effort to regain control of what is happening to me. When I come out of it, it feels like I just woke up or came out of being hypnotized.

There was a weekend that I went to Madison to visit my best friend. I was amazed and proud that I was able to get myself down there, because driving was suddenly becoming very difficult for me. Then, we went out on the town. In the middle of a bar, I felt panic coming on. I excused myself to the bathroom, where I promptly broke down in tears. My friend walked me back to her place where I recovered whilst they went back out. LAME.

This is just one example of how anxiety was stopping me from living life, and that is when the depression set it.

The final straw was the night I was sitting in a class taught by a professor that I found very intimidating. I couldn't concentrate on anything other than my extreme stress and discomfort. I was in the "zone" trying to just make it through to the other side of the panic. But it got so bad, I had to leave. I walked out of class, walked home and broke down. That night I called my parents and told them I needed help.

With that, my mother made my doctor's appointments. I started on Zoloft and had my first therapy session. I was officially diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder. Therapy was helpful in that I finally had some answers and clarity about my life! It was very comforting to know I was not crazy. Seriously, I really wondered if I was. But, most of that therapy was based on the power of positive thinking (I will address my thoughts on positive thinking and "the battle of the mind" in another post). The meds... they worked.

After about three weeks on the meds, I recall walking home from a class and looking up and noticing things around me thinking to myself, "Huh, I actually feel like showering and putting on make up."

Slowly but surely, I started feeling good again. I could handle life again. I'm not saying I was anxiety free, but it certainly was nothing that interrupted my life!

That's where I will stop for now. I think you'll notice the trend of the roller coaster... up and down and up and down... So, I'll end this chapter on an up note.

We all have ups and downs. I hope you are on an up. If not, take heart. Be encouraged. We can't have good without bad. We can't have happy without sad. If there is anything I have learned in the a last year and a half, it's that we need to EMBRACE it all and learn from it. I wouldn't be who I am with out these experiences.

Are there times that you've been reluctant to embrace? I'd love you to share, and let's encourage one another!


5 comments:

  1. Anyone who is currently suffering from anxiety--take heart! There *can be* an end to it. I use to suffer from debilitating anxiety/panic/depression, and haven't had a major episode in years. I still get an occasional weird symptom that I can trace to anxiety, but now that I've learned that my brain can make my body do crazy things, I've accepted it, and no longer worry about it. If I get a weird symptom, I shrug it off as anxiety, realize I must be stressed about something, and then attempt to figure out what's causing it, and fix it, or realize worrying won't do me any good. I highly recommend listening to the audio files that Dr. Claire Weeks made. It helped me more than anything else. In a nutshell, she talks about what your body is doing during a panic attack (overreacting and causing excess fight or flight chemicals or something) and because your body can't use them properly (because you don't have to fight and you don't have to flee), they make you feel other crazy things. Once you understand that, it makes the worry cycle end (no more "Why do I feel this way?!?"). Prayers to all of you dealing with this horrible horrible thing called anxiety!

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  2. YES! Dr. Weeks is amazing. I plan to share LOTS AND LOTS about her. I might as well be a walking advertisement for her : )

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  3. Thank you for helping me not feel alone. I nearly broke down sobbing while reading your blogs. Thank you for sharing, for being vulnerable enough to show your heart, you've blessed me more than you know. `Kate

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  4. Thank YOU, friend! This comment alone, gave ME so much encouragement. The goal of this blog was simply to help other know they are not alone (or maybe for me to not feel alone)... : )

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