Living with anxiety

apart from the overwhelming anxiety and debilitating panic attacks, I think I'm pretty well adjusted. (someecards user card)

I’ve shared a little, very little, of how I have a history of anxiety. I don’t like to talk about it much, for fear it could bring my anxiety back. But lately, I’ve seen more and more people writing about their experiences, and I feel compelled to share mine. Not because I want you to visualize me rocking back and forth in a corner. But I want the shame that is associated with it to go away. There shouldn’t be any embarrassment, or stigmas attached to people who suffer from anxiety disorders.

My anxiety started shortly after the attacks on September 11, 2001. I was a flight attendant at the time for Delta Airlines. And soon after September 11, I was having a hard time getting in the car to drive to the airport for my scheduled flights. I started having heart palpitations, shaking, shortness of breath, and sheer panic on a weekly basis. When Delta offered the voluntary leave, I was the first to accept the time off.

I thought the time off would make these new symptoms go away. But instead, things got progressively worse. It wasn’t until someone suggested that I might be having an “anxiety attack” that anxiety even crossed my mind as a possibility. My anxiety was bad. It was getting to the point where I would rarely leave my home. I was constantly wondering if, and when, the next attack would come on. I was trying everything and anything to understand why this was happening and how I could get it to stop. Ultimately, it was medication that helped me get control of my life.

It’s been almost seven years since I’ve stopped taking my anxiety medication. Just when we decided we wanted to have kids. However, I’d be lying if I said I was completely free of anxiety now. In fact, there are days were I can feel it coming on so quickly, I have to find a way to get control before I get to my point-of-no-return. I still have a hard time getting in the car and drive to the mall by myself. Even when I know I need the alone time. It took years for me to realize that “alone” was not an ugly word. That I was not going to die. Even at my worst moments.

camphoto

That photo above? That was one of the best nights I have had with my husband. We had a wonderful evening in Napa, staying at one of the best Bed & Breakfasts around, and had just come back from an amazing dinner. Little did I know, just a few hours after that photo was taken, I’d have the worst anxiety attack of my life. For no reason. There was nothing my husband could do, but helplessly sit and wait it out with me. So we waited for it to pass, because they always do. But I realized, I could no longer allow it to sneak up on me, and get the best of me. I would do whatever I needed to do to get better. My fix didn’t happen over night. I still have days that I struggle with anxiety creeping back toward me. I don’t ignore it anymore, and I don’t let it get the best of me. I stare it right in the face.

Anxiety is horrible. Feeling shame because you experience it is wrong. I’m not ashamed as I once was, maybe that’s why I can handle myself better than the thirty-something me did. The forty-something me says, I don’t care who knows. Chances are, the person sitting next to you might be anxious today too.

If you are suffering from anxiety, don’t be ashamed. Talk about it. I’m no expert, but I do know the more you talk about it, the more help you have around you, the less you’ll feel alone.

A huge thank you to Emelia for sharing her story. It’s because of her, that I had the courage to share my story.

13 comments

  1. Jaime Jenkins

    I have an anxiety disorder. I have to make myself do almost everything. I am medicated and don’t think I’ll ever go off of it.

  2. Emelia halfcrazymama.com

    Thank you Cam!! So proud of you and my life is better with having met you in this crazy blogging world. It helped me to talk about it and I hope it helps you too!!! :)

  3. Dawn Cullo iamamommynerd.com

    Thank you for sharing your story. I started having panic attacks after my first daughter was born. After months of medication and tests my doctor found that I had a thyroid disorder causing my anxiety. I’ve been on Tyroid medication for almost 9 years now. Day by day, bit by bit we will all make it. ;)

  4. Cam growingupgoofy.com

    I completely understand Jaime. I think having kids really helped me. Because I had to care for them, I didn’t have time to “care” for my anxiety. But, it’s always in the back of my mind.

  5. Cam growingupgoofy.com

    Now we know why we get along so well! It’s always good to know that there is someone who knows what you’re going through. Also? If we’re ever in a far away place, we have each other!

  6. Cam growingupgoofy.com

    It’s crazy how our bodies react to things. It must have been somewhat of a relief to figure it out. So many people struggle with it, I hope your comment might get someone asking questions! Thank you for sharing!

  7. Rebecca

    I love your vulnerability Cam! Thank you for sharing!!!!

  8. Sherri oldtweener.com

    i think it’s a good thing to share, because it brings to light how so many are struggling under the surface. And it’s normal. But I hate that you deal with this, I do. I have had quite a few panic attacks in recent years that I never saw coming and OMG, unless you have experienced your body and brain taking over like that you have no idea. None. I hope that you continue to beat this, Cam.

  9. Carolyn momentsinmommyland.com

    I deal with anxiety too! Mine started after the sudden loss of a friend but became worse once I had children. I’ve been on meds once or twice for it and they really help :)

  10. Cam growingupgoofy.com

    I’m sorry about the loss of your friend. Anxiety is so hard to predict. I had so many people tell me that their anxiety worsened when they had children. Thank you for sharing Carolyn.

  11. Christine

    I’m so glad you got help and that you are sharing your story for others to see they aren’t alone. My anxiety disorder is in the mild range, but wasn’t always. It can really debilitate a person to feel so anxious.

  12. kimberly

    I finally had a chance to read this. You aren’t alone. Anxiety is so prevalent. I deal with it, too, and one of my kids has already been diagnosed with general anxiety disorder, which sucks so much. It’s one thing for me to have some anxiety, but to see it in your kid feels worse.

    I think you’re awesome, no matter what!

  13. Karen C.

    Well said! Thank you for sharing these personal experiences with your readers. I believe that people who suffer from depression/anxiety and other mental health issues need to seriously consider treatment options whether that be counseling or medication because “thinking positively” doesn’t cut it. I think most people say they want to go the natural route when treating a mental health issue but when that doesn’t make you feel better then it’s time to look at other options. There are treatments out there that help! I just finished a very interesting set of books called “Healing the Mind and Body” by Paul D. Corona MD (http://drpaulcoronamd.com/). The series is written in a way that I, as a patient, could understand. I like to do my homework when it comes to medication and new developments in the field of mental health, especially when it comes to my own health. The author has a lot of experience and knowledge when it comes to to the use of SSRI and the newer SNRI medications. This series was well priced and offered a load of information that I found very useful. I hope you will all check it out! I wish you the very best and I’m happy you’re finding balance

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