I used to keep it a secret for the most part when it first came to fruition. I only told my family (Mom, Dad, Sister) and my girlfriend (Now fiancee). I mean, prior to knowing what it was, I thought I had either heart issues (Due to the racing heart and chest pressure. I got it checked out by a Cardiologist and I am fine) or gastrointestinal issues (I went to a couple of different Gastroenterologists and was even hospitalized for severe stomach pains and nausea), so I would tell people it was related to either of those.
Then I went to my GP and she said it seems like anxiety, so I took that route. I was a shut-in for awhile. I didn't want to go anywhere but home and work (Well, I didn't really want to go to work, but in order to keep my insurance I have to go!). The thought of even going to the supermarket or a restaurant killed me. I still feel uneasy, but I've been pushing myself to readjust back into society.
After some time I told some co-workers and I told other friends. I didn't want them to think I wasn't seeing them for no reason... I did miss my friends immensely, but I was too anxious to do anything. Finally one day I had a friend come over my house and I felt anxious, but it was a building block and I took it from there.
I'm not embarassed anymore of it. It's an illness, just like if someone has diabetes - they take medicine, they tell people (Well, the people close to them), and so on. Anxiety disorders such as ours are no different, and they should be treated the same. We don't choose to feel like this - I know I don't, but I also want to live my life to the fullest. So now I will tell anyone (Well, not strangers on the street, but other extended family members and acquaintances [sp?]), but note that I've been taking medicine. Most people don't even know when I get a minor panic attack. I keep it on the inside and trudge through social interactions, but on the inside it's chaos at times.
Keeping a Xanax in my pocket also helps. I'll usually keep one or two pills (.25mg each) on-hand as a safety blanket. I almost always have water with me, just in case I need to take them. But lately I've been trying to venture out without them it another step I am taking to try and stray away from depending on the medicine. Is it hard at times? Well, yes. But I feel like I need to push myself, and the medicine is just a tool that I can use in times of need. It won't hold my hand through everything - I need to take charge.