I just lost my story when my computer glitched, so here goes try number two. I struggled with anxiety for the last 30 years or more, but it went undiagnosed until ten years ago and even then went largely untreated, except for occasional incomplete treatment attempts.
The first anxiety attack that I remember was when I was about 12, the same age that my son is currently. My Mom and Dad were out of town. That morning before they left my Mom had given my brother and I our first wallets and 20 bux to go in them. I was stoked to use that twenty on some comics, maybe some junk food. I reached for my wallet at some point in the middle of the day and realized that it was no longer there. I still remember the painted large bricks of the hallway and the dark blue carpet of my middle school as I broke into a sweat, flushing and hot. I felt dizzy. I also felt weak, but after a few minutes in which I kept moving just so I wouldn't look weird to all the other kids strolling through the hall, I made it to the lost and found, where I found my wallet with no money. I was used to feeling guilty and trying to placate others emotionally, so I criticized myself for losing it (I was programmed by that point to blame myself; it never even crossed my mind to consider that someone might have stolen the wallet from me). And I committed to myself to never tell anyone about it, sad as I was to lose that money I had plans for. I knew I would feel worse about myself if I told my Mom about it.
My family and I moved from country to country as we grew up, and I got more anxious the more we moved. We were never in one place for more than a few years, so I was never more than 3 years at any school, never had any hangouts to go to, etc. Everywhere we went the language was different, the culture, the customs...No wonder I'm anxious! My parents did not do a very good job of helping us to stay connected to the friends we made, so we always had to make new friends, and then for a short time. I became less enthusiastic about moving with each move and reached out and opened up less with every move. On top of that, my Dad was a workaholic who hardly knew me or my brother or sister.
When we got to the states, I made some friends, but kept to myself more than most. I was afraid to connect to anyone, since I was sure they weren't going to be a part of my life for very long. I found out later and in work life that it wasn't that unusual in the 80s and 90s in my rich part of the country for people to be in therapy, see their school counselor, take medications for different mental health needs. I didn't do any of that and my parents never mentioned that as an option, much less made me go to counseling- one of the drawbacks of living in some of the places where I lived. In high school I started to feel like I wasn't safe anywhere. I had a constant low-lying level of anxiety. In college, when I didn't understand something, I kept it to myself. I started skipping classes, but not because I was partying. I was depressed and anxious about performing in class (something I never had as a kid). I became a near-recluse in the second half of my junior year, sleeping a lot and staying in bed even when I wasn't sleeping. Some of my teachers were cool enough to worry about me and ask about me. I wish I could go back in time and make my parents put me into some kind of intensive treatment at that point. I missed enough class that I was suspended. I took another 7 years to finish my undergrad at another institution.
I wandered anxiously from job to job, friend to friend, school to school for a few years, then met someone who believed in me and validated me enough that I managed to finish school, work more consistently, start grad school, and start a family. But I was too anxious to finish grad school and had to go back 7 years later for my last 2 classes. I also lost 2 jobs in a row, the first because I had a breakdown and wound up in a week-long intensive therapy program, the second because I started feeling too anxious to meet with my social work clients. I was finally diagnosed for general anxiety disorder when I was 33, after my marriage broke up, largely because I felt like I couldn't handle the stress of supporting a family financially and because I had an intensive, low-paying social work job in which I tried to save and felt responsible for every kid who was on my docket.
When I was finally diagnosed, I thought it was a half-made up diagnosis and didn't believe it was something real and medical. Which now I do. The 6-12 mos. of therapy I got at that point was enough to help me get out and find other work, at a much lower pay than my degree and work experience merited, but I would be able to deal with customers over the phone. The first couple years there were the hardest, because it was so hard for my son. I was just divorced and anxious all the time, and I he saw that anxiety first-hand. It seemed like I was angry all the time as well, though I know I'm blowing that up in my mind.
I started to get anti-anxiety meds a few years back, after I started getting stomach pains due to anxiety. They helped me manage my work in a stressful, fast-paced work environment and my fathering. But I didn't have therapy to address any root causes and I was not making much progress in the relationship category. I got promoted at that job but became co-dependent on one of my fellow managers. When she stopped communicating with me for some reason, I started to regularly feel panicked, paranoid, and unsupported. I was fired from that job- this time unjustly -and moved to another higher-paying but lower-rung position, which I lost a year later, anxiety again being a primary cause.
I've been working very part-time for about a year and am now looking for more at-home work and starting some out-of-home interviews. But I don't have any medical insurance, so I'm looking for support and coping mechanisms and ways to get real regular long-term treatment so I can get back to working out of my home at something I love and maybe dating again, with the hope of having more kids and a wife. But first comes taking care of myself and my son. Miraculously and thankfully, I've been able to take very good care of my son and although money has been tight, I have been able to give him endless amounts, emotionally, and to really be there for him every second that he is out of school and needs me.
That's more than I meant to say. Thanks. I'm grateful for any replies.