I've been at this for what seems like forever.
I was officially diagosed in 2000, but really, thats just when it had reached its crescendo. The point when my mother looked at me and realised it wasn't going away this time.
I've always been scared, not of particular things, just scared in general. I remember being little and having what I called "bad thoughts" and what I now recognise as heart palpitations.
I would run into my mother's room and ask her to distract me, so I would feel good again. Or I'd ask her some morbid question about death and mortality and where do we go etc
There was a period where I don't remember this happening so much. My early teens years. I got sad, I cried and I worried, but I don't necessarily think it was unusual behaviour for that age.
When I was 19, thats when the world changed for me.
I went through a traumatic period in my life and moved back to my mother's house. I was crying every day, a weight of sadness pinned me to my bed or the sofa and simply venturing out of the house was like preparing for war.
After a few weeks and no improvement, my mother decided that this wasn't something I would simply snap out of. She had had her own battles with fear and anxiety and was recognising the same in me. One night she even had to take me to the emergency doctor where I was sedated via injection because I had worked myself into such a frenzy.
During a visit to the doctor that I barely remember, I was asked if I'd thought about harming myself.
I replied that I would never do that, I don't want to die... I want to live and I want to be happy. The idea that something will kill me is one of the things that scares me the most.
This is when I was prescribed my first SSRI.
I remember the next day, having filled my prescription, sitting with my mother asking her if this was going to make me a different person. I was so scared of losing myself. It took a lot of courage to take that first pill.
Gradually I began to improve. I was able to return to work and start to venture out and rebuild my social circles.
Of course medication isn't a magic cure. There is no "cure" for this, which is something I've had to come to terms with.
So I dealt with the anxiety attacks. I learned my triggers and what I needed to do to feel safe again. I've learned that I'm not alone in this, there are far more people than I would have ever expected who feel, as I do, like they are sometimes a passenger on a ride they didn't ask to be on.
Over the years I've had what I guess could be considered relapses. Times when I've found myself in a black hole.
I moved to another country and upon arrival started with a new doctor who promptly prescribed me a different medication. I lasted about a month before I completely broke down.
About 2 years after that I woke up on Christmas morning feeling... sad, I guess you would say. I don't know what triggered it, there was no real reason, I was just sad. This time I tried therapy.
My psychologist was caring and gentle and she made me feel like I wasn't completely insane. Sometimes all I want to do is talk to someone, but its hard to really feel like anyone truly gets it. I get scared about the most stupid things, of course it seems strange.
Fast forward to now. I'm just about to turn 33. There are plenty of things in my life that I can focus on or pick to be the root of my fear or sadness.
I will be able to finalise my divorce in the new year. I have a daughter whom I placed for adoption. I live in a different country to any of my family and some of them even live on the other side of the world. I'm in a relationship and I've fallen in love, but I'm not sure if he is capable or willing to love me back. I have money worries just like everyone else. But really, these things are not things to pin my anxiety on, these things are my life. This is who I am.
I'm currently going through another low patch.
I've been off work for the week and I haven't eaten a meal in 5 days now.
I wake up with that feeling in my chest. Like someone is sitting on me.
I know that this will not last. I know I will not feel this way forever. I know that this is hard right now. I know I just want to feel ok again and that i why I am here.