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Offline ocdengineer

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Personal Stories of Anxiety Disorder
« on: June 03, 2007, 10:34:16 AM »

I am posting this as a sticky post here so that everyone has a place to tell their story about their anxiety disorder, how it came to be, and what they are doing to solve their issues.  I think it would be valuable to have a place to open up rather than randomly on the board which eventually scrolls away from existence.

I'll start:

During my college years I smoked a lot of marijuana...  Big mistake!  The intrusive thoughts started my second semester after pledging a fraternity and being hazed for eight weeks and doing sub-par that semester in my studies.  I was also stressed out about a relationship that was in its 5th year yet I wasn't ready to commit and I also felt trapped because I didn't want to break the girls heart.  The intrusive thoughts were mainly of things that would cause me great fear and anxiety such as "being gay", "being a murder", and the more I'd try to get rid of the thought the more it would bother me.  This gradually got worse for about 3 years until just after graduation when I was smoking with some friends and I had a horrible thought while under the influence that scared me into my first major panic attack.  From that point the panic attacks became regular and I ended up becoming agoraphobic.  Finally I was admitted into a mental health clinic and diagnosed with some sort of anxiety disorder and sent home on Remeron which made me very sick.  It actually increased my anxiety so I went back to the doctor within a couple weeks to find another drug that may help.  I went through Paxil, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Buspar, Zyprexa, even Xanax in conjunction with the Zyprexa.  Nothing seemed to help at all and I ended up cryin' on the couch feeling so low and desperate that I think I had actually had no where to go but up. 

It was the middle of the night and I went for a walk and tried to straighten out everything that was going on in my head and by the time I got back I had made the decision to throw away all the meds and start doing some real research on anxiety disorder.  I read every book I could find on my disorder which I later found out was Pure O a type of OCD that causes intrusive thoughts with no compulsions.  I started to meditate and drink Kava Kava tea which helped me to relax before bed and in the morning.  I gradually became able to leave the house and shortly therafter returned to work.  I still felt horrible and had intrusive thoughts often, but I would always play with them in my head by changing them into funny scenes.  For instance a once had a bad thought while talking to my boss who I respected a great deal that I was going to stab him with a pen.  This of course scared the living daylights out of me, so I forced myself to think about it over and over until the anxiety stopped.  This of course was scary because now I wasn't scared of the thought of stabbing someone which gave me anxiety, but I had beaten the thought and never had that particular one again.  I continued to attack each thought and continued to meditate daily and after about a year of practice I had all of the thoughts under control and went into a 5 year remission. 

Turns out that the same thing had happened when I was in the second grade.  I vaguely remember the thoughts other than that my parents would be taken away from me while I was at school.  I remember the stomach pain from the anxiety and went home often as a result of panic attacks.  I had completely forgotten this episode in my life.  My parents knew something was wrong, but not what it was.  I managed to come to the same conclusion naturally when I was younger as well and was in remission until the above experience.

When I say remission, I mean I was able to live my life completely with very minor anxiety every so often and an intrusive thought every once and awhile which I could quickly dismiss.  Anyway, this all came to an end when I got married and especially got bad when I had my first child.  The thoughts were pretty much under control, but the anxiety and panic reached unimaginable heights and were really affecting my ability to enjoy my new child and wife.  This is when I decided that maybe medication would help me, but this time I was going to take it slow and keep track of everything that happened while on the meds.  I was very scared, but set up an appointment with an anxiety disorder specialist in the area.  He happened to be a professor at the local university and started his own practice specifically for anxiety disorder and had treated literally thousands of patients.  I felt comfortable with this doctor which made the idea of taking meds relatively easy.  I told the doctor everything I just stated here and he basically said that I simply had anxiety disorder with some OCD tendencies and that I should take Xanax to eliminate the anxiety.  I already at this point had researched all the potential meds and knew that Xanax had a history of causing dependency.  He said, "if you had diabetes, would you be reluctant to take your insulin shots?"  I of course said "no" and he explained that most anxiety disorders are long term problems that have a genetic root which I already knew because anxiety disorder was all over my mothers side of the family.  I asked him if I would ever be off medication and he said that I could if I wanted to, but there was a very good chance that I would end up having anxiety issues again later in life.  Maybe not immediately, but at some point.

In conclusion, for the last 10 months I have been taking Xanax and it has helped a great amount with my anxiety and has allowed me to take my life back.  I have written in a journal every day since the beginning of taking meds so that I could quantify how well the medication was working.  I don't fight with the anxiety anymore.  I continue to meditate daily to exercise my mind.  I exercise physically and eat well avoiding caffeine and most all other recreational drugs.  I will have a beer or two on occasion, but it is rare.  Anyway, the intrusive thoughts have not been a problem for me in almost 7 years, and the anxiety is now at a controllable level.

I now have two children and with this new addition to our family I have not had any issues with the anxiety even though it is a very stressful time.  She had health complications and caught a virus in the first few weeks of her life which caused us great fear and anxiety, but the anxiety I had was all rational and appropriate for the situation.  For the first time I feel like I have control of my life and don't have to worry about a random panic attack during stressful time.  There are times I had to get really clever and talk my way out of a presentation or something at work so that I could go home due to a random panic attack.  That doesn't happen anymore.  I am an aerospace engineer with a lovely wife and two beautiful daughters!  Life is good!

Thanks for letting me share this intimate portrait of my life.  I hope others will share their stories in this thread as well. 

Take care,
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Offline iansmom

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Re: Personal Stories of Anxiety Disorder
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2007, 11:08:28 AM »
My anxiety started right after my husband and I bought our first house back in 1996. I had no idea what it was but I'll never forget it.  I woke up out of a dead sleep with the pouding heart, hot and cold sweats, feelings that I was dying.  You name it I got it.  I ended up quitting several jobs because i just couldn't cope.  During this time the depression also kicked in.  Thankfully I found a good doctor after a little looking who put me on Prozac and xanax.  It took a while but eventually I started to feel better. 

It comes back on and off throughout the years.  I have my ups and my downs.  Thank God I have a wonderfully supportive husband.  My biggest mistake is that I've always tried to only take the xanax as "needed" instead of taking it as the therapuetic dose i really should be doing.  Well I've suffered 2 miscarriages within the last six months.  Both of which I had to have a D&C for.  Well anyone who sufferes from anxiety knows that things like that can really trigger big time anxious problems.   The last one I had a bad reaction from the anestesia and that did it.  My sister who is a nurse finaly got me to understand that I HAVE to take my xanax on a daily preventative basis.  I just started doing that this weekend and it's already helping me feel much better.  It's just so hard to do when I feel okay but as she explained to me (along with my therapist) that if I just take it the way I should then I'll always feel good.  If I have  a problem and I need an extra dose that is okay to.

I've learned alot about myself during all these years of suffering with this.  I have a wonderful little boy and we've decided that I should stop working full time when school starts again and concentrate on being there for him.  That in itself helps me to feel better.  I always worry I'll freak out at work or something will happen. 

Their is help out there and I encourage all of us going through this to find the best things that work for you  and stick with it. Don't make the mistake I keep making and stop taking your meds because you're feeling better. Remembe you're feeling better because of your meds!

take care,
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Offline ocdengineer

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Re: Personal Stories of Anxiety Disorder
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2007, 11:20:56 AM »
Posted at the reqest of TheFisman!

Here's my story It might be a bit of a read, I am glad I finally found out what I have, which is GAD, with some depression and OCD.
I have been taking Lexipro 5mg and some Valium when I get really aggitated and I feel so much better.
I hope that I can count on all your support. I found out finally what was wrong with me by going for a mental assesment and being diagnosed by mental health nurses and a  psyciatrist.

Well I feel I might of always had an anxious personality, the breaking point I feel can be pointed at the events when I was 16,
I had some previous issues that where stressful but didn't envoke that much anxiety, when I had a problem usally I would mentally look at it, exaimine the evidence and analyze it and reach a conclusion. I wasn't teased really much at all during my school days, During High School I got a little upset over some incidents where a new kid came to our school to escape his nasty nicknames and rumors and because I was absent at the time he tryed to make out they applied to me, this I found upsetting because I did nothing to earn these nicknames and rumors it wasn't very frequent and I didn't know where all these rumors came from when I found out the source I was rather mad but by that time I knew some of the poeple more "friendly" and they didn't care anyway and said sorry. I never cared again about it after that.

When I was completing my year 11 the year that high school student's face their first series of exams (there where two the midyear ones and the more important end year ones) During the mid year ones I experianced extreme nerviousness and usally threw up in the morning before going to the exam. I experianced the same or more nerviousness during the end of year exams.

Towards the end of the year I was making new friends and kept getting invited to join a group of students, I felt their personalitys didn't really match mine and they where rather silly, later on I found out that a lot of there sillyness might of been because they where constently smoking pot, I decided that wasn't for me because I don't do drugs so I never went to talk to them but I didn't mind them, there humor was rather primtive and they used to push each other over and bump into each other and make fun of each other now and again, When this happened to me I wasn't sure if they did this because they thought I was one of them and where doing it in a friendly context or it was an insultive thing. After each incident I analyzed it and put it out of my head- at this time I was more and more stressed from studying and I began to react more sensitivly to bad social reactions or reactions I percived as negative and it became harder to put matters to rest and calm down about things. I have also a very low opinion of people on drugs at that time after losing a friend to them.

Then During the second to last exam I was extremly nervious I kept saying to myself how much I needed a holiday NOW! and that I needed to calm down. I experianced one of those teasing incidents from them and was on my way home when a car nearly hit me it jumped my mind and I rememeber saying to myself in my head "I COULD OF BEEN KILLED" I kept going through the events of that day and what I was thinking about and analzing the teasing incident I was extremly shaken up and couldn't calm down for some reason I dismissed the car accident from the head and just focused on analyzing what I was thinking before; about the teasing incident or possible teasing incident, when I went back to take my last exam I finished it but did not feel calmer, I felt other panics such as if I would pass or not and I regared the car accident as minor and tryed to block it out- I became more and more aroused by my anxiety and thoguht it would calm down with time.

I collected my report card and dissmissed the anxiety that I might not of passed and I wasnt concerned about the car accident because I said to my self; why it didn't hit you, but the one thing I couldn't dismiss was the analysing of the issue I was thinking about from my head the possible teasing incident/ I felt it was silly and would soon go but I found it would not and my anxiety wouldn't go down I kept tossing the evnts of how I got anxious into my head and went though them in my mind and tryed my best to calm back down but it didn't work- In my mind I remember saying; so you have passed year 11 no need to worry about that, so the car didn't hit you and maybe it wasn't even as close as you think so forget about that why would I be upset, and the teasing analysis well if they are teasing me because I didn't want to join ther group and take drugs well then who cares I don't, I can get over it. but I just coundn't calm down and the only thing I thought could be causeing my anxiety was the fact that I was teased, because I thought well logically I have to be uset about something??? it's the only thing left?? I told my mother and father and we discussed the issue's and they said that I had nothing to worry about and that they most likely wanted to be my friend and that different groups have different mannerisms and acceptable behaviour and in the worst case it was good because I didn't give into peer pressure and maintained my stance on not takeing drugs and that everything else was fine and I should calm down.

I spend the holidays aroused/anxious and analysing the incident and thinking that must be what was wrong I blocked out the car accident and started thinking that maybe it didn't happen anyway. I felt more and more lost and "not myself" and this continued- I had attempts at calming down but I couldn't so the cycle started again and the memories of me being anxious made me more anxious.

I thought that when I went back to school it would go away, but it did not and I felt more depressed and then towards the end of the year my father started getting sick.

I finished school and then it turn out my father had cancer in his spine and I couldn't go on to further study as I needed to help my mother cope as well as look after him. My anxiety became worse and worse, and my hair started falling out and I felt more sader and lost and it went on and on, I didn't want to make a fuss about myself I would of gone for mental but I didn't want to create more problems so I just hanged in there and delt with it.

before all this started I had a great sense of identity and self esteem and a great attitude to life.
My father passed away and now I have found a job, saved up the money to learn to drive, learn't to drive got a car and started up my ongoing education; I am now 23.....
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Offline SCinLA

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Re: Personal Stories of Anxiety Disorder
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2007, 06:16:43 PM »
Hello Everyone,
I am a 26 year old male from Los Angeles and I have been dealing on and off with anxiety/panic dosorder for about 10 years. My first experience must have been around the age of 16 or 17 when I became overwhelmed with the fear of one day dying. In the beginning I had no idea that I was suffering from a condition shared by many others so I thought I was just going crazy. That particular episode subsided and I felt that everything was back to normal. At that time in my life I made alot of choices that I am sure contributed to future episodes such as taking LSD, as well as many other drugs and smoking Marijuana regularly. Around the age of 18 I went to a party and took mushrooms which turned out to be a huge mistake. I began to panic heavily and even after the high wore off I found that I was generally more anxious than usual. I am not sure when the next episode occured but it must have been soon after because it is around that time when me and my family began to seek help for my condition. I initally was against the idea of taking any medication but I was so desperate for relief that I decided its worth a try. I was prescribed Paxil and after a while I began to feel better. I stopped taking the meds because I felt confident that I had this issue under control and I continued that cycle of taking/stopping paxil for the next couple of episodes.  In 2004 I stopped taking the meds again but also quit Marijuana and began to try to live healthier. I lost close to 100 pounds and was feeling great. I lived happily and medication free for the next three years until april of this year. I put myself under alot of stress at work and was planning a vacation when I began to once again experience the symptoms of anxiety and panic disorder. During the last three years I still was dealing with my OCD and even a couple of fleeting anxiety attacks but nothing that I would consider to be an "episode". I was happy. My girlfriend who I've been with for seven years has been extremely supportive and I thank God that I have her in my life. I can't help but feel that my condition could effect my relationship if I let it. Does anyone else out there feel that way? There are moments when I feel great but they're extremely fleeting and I usually only find relief when I am sleeping. I realize that I can't sleep my worries and what if thinking away so any kind of feedback and or stories shared would be greatly appreciated. I know this post has been lengthy so thanks to anyone who took the time to hear my story...It really does help to share. Thank you.
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Offline retrogurl88

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Re: Personal Stories of Anxiety Disorder
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2007, 04:53:56 PM »
I posted my story some time ago but it was pushed down the board in a day, cause only one person replied.  So here is a more summarized version:

      I am a 19-year-old college student.  I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder at the age of 14, with an assortment of compulsions and phobias. 
     As a person I have always been anxious and compulsive, even as a small child, and had my first real panic attack at the age of 8.  However, I was able to mask things from my parents until the age of 12 when I entered middle school.  From this point on I began to suffer panic attacks on a daily basis.  As a result, my immune system weakened and I frequently became ill with bronchitis and the flu.
     When seventh grade rolled around my body totally broke down and I was sick with a violent flu for two weeks.  Upon getting better though, I realized I was afraid to leave the house and return to school and I developed agoraphobia.  After spending a month in my house, my parents knew something was seriously wrong and literally had to force me to the doctors screaming and crying.  I had lost so much weight from nerves and the flu that I had dropped from 120lbs down to a mere 101lb.  After testing my thyroid and concluding that I just had a bad case of the flu my doctor told me that I needed to return to school and wrote me a note.
     The following year, everything seemed to start off okay until midway through September when my daily panic attacks resurfaced.  This time I missed the complete last two weeks of school and was taken to the doctors a second time.  Upon questioning and running a blood test, the doctor determined that nothing was physically wrong with me and diagnosed me with several anxiety disorders (mentioned above), she sent me to a therapist, to confirm her suspicions.  The therapist met with me and concluded that I was suffering from multiple anxiety disorders and recommended I be placed on medication to manage my symptoms.
     Since then I have taken paxil each day and see my therapist on a regular basis.  I have had several minor relapses in the past five years but nothing too major.  Despite being on meds I still suffer from panic attacks every once in awhile, and still tend to be on edge from time to time.  Everyday is an internal battle for me, one that I’m afraid will never end.  I do have my license and a social life, but acquiring those wasn’t easy.  I can only hope that each day I succeed a little bit more in my fight. :angel-smiley-006:

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"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do."--Eleanor Roosevelt

Offline nikkid5

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Re: Personal Stories of Anxiety Disorder
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2007, 07:18:03 PM »
the firtst time i had an anxiety attack, i was getting high with some new found friends. i started smoking pot when i was 12.the first time i had an attack i was 15 or 16. i had been smoking pot with a couple people, then this other guy gave me some speed. i had never done it before so i said why not? after that we smoked some more, and it hit me like a brick wall. the worst feeling i ever had. i didn't go home, cuz i didn't want to tell my parents what i took. after it went away i thought i was done with it. a few days later i smoked again, and i had a horrible attack and went home. i then stopped doing drugs of any kind, and quit smoking cigarettes cold turkey too(wish i could do that now). it took me about a year to fight back for a worry free life. now i am 28 and am suffering again. i am trying to take back my life without the aid of meds, but am finding it quite hard. i have stopped drinking anything with caffeine, and i am trying to quit smoking also. i have been going to the dr. for things i think are medically wrong, but in the back of my head i think it is just stress and anxiety. i wish i had a magical wand to make these feeling just vanish. i am glad there is a site like this, i feel a lot better, like i am not just insane! if i can't feel better in a month or so i think i will give in and go visit a shrink. i took paxil for about a year and quit cuz i couldn't afford the meds anymore. maybe i should just take that again?!
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Offline pickledkittie

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Re: Personal Stories of Anxiety Disorder
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2007, 01:51:13 AM »
I have been anxious for my entire life and, I think that a lot of it has to do with the fact that I have a highly over-active imagination. When I was little, I would have trouble sleeping at night because I was certain that extraterrestrials were going to abduct me and pull out my eye balls. Also, I would worry that a demon could sleep on my chest when I was sleeping at night so, I only slept on my stomach in order to avoid it. I also created a barricade of stuffed animals around me, confident that they could keep out anything evil...Until I was ten and realized my stuffed animals could be evil, so I would talk to them and be nice to them so they wouldn't know that I was onto their plans to murder me in my sleep.

Today, I don't worry about things like that. Although, I do have chronic nightmares which are rather gruesome..

I think my anxiety got especially worse when I was nine, and witnessed a family friend jump out of our moving vehicle to his death. Since then, I have a difficult time riding in cars and have not learned to drive for fear that I will die in an automobile accident.

In the fifth grade, I had no friends and was incessantly picked on by my classmates. They called me things like "buck-toothed beaver" or "rabbit" and would shove meabout during recess. For that reason, I have gradually become less distrustful of other people and more self-involved. Obviously, I have social issues as well.

Anyhow, I am always worried about something. For instance, when I was going to high school for my freshman year, I had chronic twitches in my head because I was so tense and worried all of the time. Also, I would get incredibly nauseous and anxious whenever my bus was nearing the school.

My anxiety towards people began to decrease after my sophomore year, when I had found myself and decided I wasn't going to be a fake for anyone. However, I achieved this by not having many friends, which wasn't the best approach...I instead focused solely on my education- studied habitually and rarely did anything social outside of school. So, the remainder of my high school experience consisted of me beating myself down whenever I didn't get an "A", or obsessing over the possibilities of me failing a class. I obsessed over things like that so much that my stomach constantly hurt, and I would occasionally have spasms in my abdomen.

When I started dating, I always thought my boyfriend was cheating on me, or that he planned to. I would call him up at random moments and if I knew he was with a girl, I would start shaking really bad and feel chilled all over. It was like I had to know everything about my boyfriend in order to feel comfortable, which is absolutely ridiculous.

This previous term, I started going to school at Lewis & Clark college, which was a huge slap in the face for me. I suddenly began doubting my abilities as a student because I wasn't getting "A's" on every paper I turned in. I came very close to dropping out of college altogether, because I was so ridiculously worried that my grades proved I was an idiot.

Once I got out of school for summer break (with a 3.4 GPA xD), I went straight into hypochondria. I thought I was pregnant for an entire month because my previous period had been unusually light. I went through four different pregnancy tests, and also went to the doctor to have him test me (I figured his would be better xD); all of the tests came out negative but, I actually started to believe that the doctor lied to me about his test results because he knew I would get an abortion! So, it wasn't until my period started that I felt relieved. Then, one day at work, it suddenly hit me that I didn't know if one of my ex's had HIV. So, for many weeks I obsessed over the possibility that I might have HIV. I looked up statistics, looked up all the people my ex had ever been with, had my lymph nodes checked....I was so convinced I had it that I would literally wake up in the morning and my first thought would be "I have HIV."

After I was in a car wreck two Fridays ago, it suddenly hit me that I could die in a moment so, why worry about HIV? And I realized the likelihood of someone my age being HIV positive is fairly low. Obviously, it took a scare like a vehicular accident to wake me up from my hysteria.

However, now, I think I am pregnant again. I took a pregnancy test, it came out negative, but I don't believe it.
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Offline gloomy

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Re: Personal Stories of Anxiety Disorder
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2007, 02:53:11 PM »
Hi all, I have never posted my whole story before, only dribs and drabs that have been relevant to other posts I have answered.

I truly didnt suffer with anxiety until 6 years ago when I had a stillborn son, I was 38 weeks of gestation and I hadnt felt him kick for a while and I just knew in my own heart he had died, he was my fourth child so I knew what was and wasnt normal.  I was sent home for 48 hours from the hospital, who gave me a pill to induce labour, that 2 days was a blur.  I gave birth and was drugged up with morphine as there was no danger to the baby, I guess the hospital were trying to make it as pain free as possible.  We buried him a week later, with my husbands father who had died some years before, thats when my problems really started.  I was prescribed diazepam for 2 weeks but the doctor wouldnt prescribe it for any longer, then I was on paxil for 2 years.  Even with the meds, I had panic attacks, and all the usual physical symptoms of anxiety, of course I didnt know what it was, I thought I was finally going mad.  I also had another healthy child within this time aswell, which I know now was a mistake in that I should have waited and sorted out my mental health first.  But I thought another child would sort my head out.  The pain of losing a baby feels physical, your heart literally aches, the desire to find that baby is destroying.  I think I had a breakdown at some point, but cant be sure.  My husband had a breakdown about 18 months after the event.

When I look back over the years, I was a very anxious child, I was always on edge, due to my mothers violent temper, I was bullied at school too etc, I also didnt know my real father, and my stepfather, favoured my 2 half brothers, basically all these things so early in life are bound to have an effect, I have only realised how bad the effect in the last couple of years as I have tried to face my demons.

I dont when it happened but at some point I picked myself back up and tried to find some direction in life, it may have been a natural progression, my youngest child turned three and went off to nursery school 2 mornings a week, I had an unheaalthy attachement with her and couldnt bear to be away from her, I know it was due to my loss of the child before her.  Thats when I decided I would train to be a mental health nurse and help people in difficulty like I had been.  So I did the relevant year long course to enable a university place, during that course one of the subjects I pciked was psychology as I thought it would be relevant to the mental health aspects.  I loved the subject so much and also my tutor had told me I had the highest marks ever attained on such a course as I had a natural ability to see the subject, a lot of people dont have that, he advised me I would be a wasted brain in nursing, and I could go so much further.  So I have just finished the 2nd year of a psychology degree, am also training to be a Samaritan (suicidal confidential helpline volunteer).  So hopefully I give something back and help others who suffer with mental health issues for whatever reason.

I still have bad days, in fact yesterday was bad, but I do try my best to be positive and move on, I just hope that the suffering I have endured was for a reason, in that its to help others.
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Offline King

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Re: Personal Stories of Anxiety Disorder
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2007, 05:54:59 PM »
As a child I had bad hearing problems from 0-5 yrs which made me almost completely deaf. This wasnt detected until I was 4 yrs old and then I needed an operation at 6 which scared the hell out of me. I was left with life-long tinnitus, and the early delay in speech development necessitated speech and reading lessons to catch up with my peers in school. I had frequent hearing tests after that until 8-9 years old and common colds would often make me deaf again. During this time 2 grandparents died in close succession which made me worried and think about death alot. The net result of this along with being a sensitive child was that I was always scared about my health from that point onwards. When I was between 12-15 years old I was obsessed I had raised lymph nodes and so had must have had lymph cancer. I can distinctly remember thinking that family holidays would be my last. I still used to get periods of deafness again - one period lasting 3 months - too which made my tinnitus worse. A little later worries used to give me alot of palpitations so I always thought I had heart disease too. Then I started getting lots of depersonalisation and often had lots of abstract, repetitive thoughts (like I should stand up in class and shout **** but I never did). It was like I wasnt never quite in reality somehow. Clearly when I look back I had a history of health anxiety and perhaps OCD which I didnt realise until recent months.

Fast forward many years, in recent years I have pushed myself to the limit at work for several years, with long daily commutes, flying all over the world to give high pressure presentations, have 3 young children, and went through a torrid divorce 5 years previously which financially broke me. Alot of stress. I believe this period coupled with a naturally anxious disposition had seriously weakened me up to a point where I was ripe for a breakdown without knowing it. It just needed one last straw. And it duly came. One day at work I noticed I had some blood in my stools and I flipped and had an on the spot panic attack that sickended me to the pit of my stomach - the first of my life. I slumped back onto the toilet and thought "why me, why have I got bowel cancer, I'm still young". For the next 2 weeks I was terrified - I thought I would be lucky to survive if it was Bowel cancer. Although I was highly anxious I didnt see a doctor, I just wished it to go away. Then 2 weeks later my stools turned dark green and I thought "oh no, its progressed - the next stage of cancer must be kicking in, my liver or gallbladder must be affected now". Then I started to get really fatigued and had to stop going to the gym (I've always been very fit - triathlons, etc). Then I started having sweats during the day and night, and started losing weight rapidly. You can imagine my anxiety levels were by now absolutely going through the roof but still I told nobody for fear of what to do or say. Anxiety wasnt even in my head - just terminal cancer and prospective palliative care. By then I was also getting bloated, had stomach pains and getting tireder. Eventually I just couldnt eat properly anymore and had a heavy dragging feeling on my right side. I was at rock bottom and starting to accept my fate.

Eventually I convinced myself I had advanced Liver Cancer as all the symptoms fitted together. This was the lowest point of my life. I got so bad that I told my wife I was dying, and told her to prepare for a new life after me with the kids which nearly gave her a breakdown. I was wondering how I could tell my parents.

Finally I went to the doctor, who said I probably had IBS. I thought no way, not with my symptoms. Then over the next few days my appetite got a little better and I thought "hey, that shouldnt be happening if I was dying". But all the other symptoms remained. My health anxiety then went through the roof. I saw the GP about 5-6 times over the next 3 weeks (I had seen a GP only once in the past 20 years) asking about Rheumatic Fever, Lyme Disease, CFS, etc, etc and he did many blood, urine, thyroid tests - they all came back negative. I was stumped. Then my GP asked me about my mood to which I said "yeah, I'm really worried". He asked me to fill in a mood/anxiety questionnaire. Out of a score of 0-20 for anxiety, I got 17. He said I had "severe anxiety" but he didnt give a formal diagnosis of GAD or similar. Still, after that I couldnt link anxiety to all the symptoms I was experiencing - I thought anxiety was a state of mind, not a physical illness too. The GP at that point offered me citalopram which scared me but then said 'lets see how we go first'. Anyway, I continued to believe that something was seriosuly wrong with me - I was still tired, my muscles ached, sleeping was a problem, still sweated, and I felt tired all day long. I had been off work for 3 weeks by this time and had lost 14 lbs in weight. I was starting to get dizzier, experiencing more palpitations - sometimes when I ran, and I was feeling really weird, like I was disappearing from reality. As I continued to surf around wondering what the hell was wrong with me I stumbed across a website called AnxietyZone, and remembered my GP had mentioned anxiety - but he hadnt diagnosed me with any specific anxiety, I just thought he thought I was anxious.

Anyway suddenly, I was reading about the symptoms of a condition called GAD and what people experienced with GAD. I almost cried with tears of joy (how sad was that!) as I realised that right there all my symptoms connected. I finally had a conditon to pin to the previous 2 months of worsening health. Finally, I took citalopram - the first treatment I have ever taken outside infections, and the next morning I thought I was having a heart attack as had chemical chills in my chest and down my arms and legs, it was an adverse reaction but just made my anxiety worse! Anyway I came of that immediately. I realised I also had Health Anxiety and was worried about Eye Cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer and heart disease due to the palpitations. I had a couple of ECGs which showed nothing but it did nothing to reassure me.

I now realise that I had had a complete mental and physical breakdown.

Then before Christmas I had another heart related rhythm event which ended up with me going to Emergency at hospital. I was kept in overnight which freaked me out (I was sat alongside heart attack victims) and I was terrified about being given really nasty drugs that can kill people to control me. After being discharged on no drugs I then had a battery of in-depth tests which have showed nothing. No-one gave me any reasons for what had happened to me. But the lasting legacy is that I'm now too scared to exert myself heavily (go for a run) for fear of being hospitalised again. Having a diagnosis of "no known cause" (idiopathic) is a living nightmare and since January this year my anxiety has gone into overdrive and been pretty constant since. I have had just about every anxiety symptom known to man and I'm constantly worried about my heart and lungs, and wonder if I have a multitude of weird and wonderful medical conditions. I dont take drugs (tried a TCA for 3 weeks but I cant take that now, and Xanax for 2 days but I hate meds) so its a daily battle to fight the anxiety and not be able to go for a run or do heavy exercise. But the past couple of months I've come to terms with it all and I'm much more relaxed about it all now although the symptoms persist. I seem to particularly get lots of chills and I always feel cold - I'm sure its all thyroid related which would account for alot but the tests say no, or high normal range.

So I just take take each day as it comes with my anxiety always in the background, I use relaxation, I;ve reduced my stressors and I've come to accept that me and anxiety are probably going to be lifelong partners along with the various symptoms. With the unexplained heart rhythm events I always wonder if something is seriously wrong with me alongside the anxiety so its all a vicious circle of worry. I feel like my body has changed from years before, like something has permnanently changed inside me, like I must have burnt something out and I wonder if I will ever get back to where I was before. I hope so - I need to have period of low sustained anxiety to tell if this may be the case. But doctors and medical science have no answers for me, so I am left to figure out what may be causing my symptoms myself which with my professional background means my imagination runs wild.

Anyway, this website has been a such an important part of my life and management approach since coming here for the past 10 months. I just visited and read for a long time to educate myself and then I eventually joined. I dont post often about my own symptoms but try to pass on my medical knowledge and experience.

Sorry this is long winded, thanks for listening.

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Offline peanut

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Re: Personal Stories of Anxiety Disorder
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2007, 11:40:30 PM »
Hello everyone,

I had my first panic attack 6 years ago.  I had just moved out of my parents house with my daughter and I was laying in bed and a fear came over me and I thought oh my God one day I'm going to dye.  That happened once or twice every few months, nothing major, i just thought it was normal.  About 6 months ago I started to worry that everything was wrong with me, lung cancer heart attacks, etc.  Since then I have tried some medication, but I hate the thought of being on medication, so I'm trying everything else including looking at myself.
The other night I was laying in bed and i was thinking about my childhood.  A comment from a family member suggesting that it could be contributing to my anxiety.  I have never really shared the Gorey details of it and as I'm writing this I'm shaking, but I need to gt it out so here it goes.
Ever since I can remember my parents were alcoholics, my Dad physically, mentally and sexually abused my Mom.  You wouldn't think that would do so much but my sister and I have seen it all.  We've seen him punch her, pull a knife on her, and more graphic things I'll keep to myself.  As young kids we would sit down stairs listening, crying and sometimes intervening  I raised my little sister, protecting her from it all.  We stayed in numerous shelters, ran to my Grandparents with no shoes, hoping somebody would stop it. (We didn't dare call the cops fearing foster care)l Nobody ever intervened.  I'm still angry and bitter about it.
At age 14 I started to party lots drug and alcohol would take me away from it, my mom decided to leave, we stayed in a shelter, and she decided that she was going back, but they weren't going to drink anymore.
That lasted awhile.  In the mean time I got pregnant at 17, was dumped by the father and left to live at my parents house.  I finished high school and colledge and got a job.  Well they started drinking again, No abuse was happing but I decided that my daughter wasn't going to go through what I had seen, so I moved out.  For a few years I wondered if my Mom was okay, she never let on that anything was wrong. Over the next 6 years it was obvious that she was being abused.  I did everything I could, I called the police, went over there, drove by at night, she wouldn't leave. This past September she called my sister and I to come get her.  She was black and blue.  I stood my ground, she was not going back.  Anyways she got an apartment, enrolled in AA and her and my dad went to counselling.  In May of this year they bought a condo and moved back together.  Yup I'm left to wonder.
So now the pit in my stomach is 24/7, my anxiety is though the roof.  I'm left to figure out what to do.  I'm SO frustrated because I;'m tired of running to the doctor, goggling symptoms, I'm tired of fearing death, I want my normal life back.
Anxiety is on my mind all day, and all night, I want it gone
Thanks for listening to my story, I feel relieved that I can actually let it out to such caring people, Anxietyzone has helped me so much.  The people here always amaze me.  Everybody is going through their own things, but they never think twice about helping.

Thank You

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Offline apple

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Re: Personal Stories of Anxiety Disorder
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2007, 12:12:05 PM »
My story:

-Mom tied both hands to bed at night so we didn’t wake up and roam the house.
-Ran away from home…picked up by neighbor.
-Female babysitter molested me.
-Mom was always mad at one kid and happy with the other…pawned us off on each other.

Age 5-10

-Loced inside my room for punishment.
-Stood in corner once for 4 hours.
-I went in the house to get a drink, I walked away from mom while she was yelling at me…she threw me on the floor and slapped me and yelled at me for it.
-prayed to god to help me do the right things.
-One night I was so happy because I was in bed and had made it through the day without my mom yelling at me and making me cry…Mom called me out of bed and yelled at me for something.
-At the last minute we would always get in trouble for something and not be able to go to birthdays or special places.
-Sister beat me up a lot when we were alone.
-I got in trouble for not doing things correctly or in the right order or well enough (Washing dishes, dusting, cleaning the bathroom, cleaning my room, making my bed etc…)
-Parents told people all the bad things we did, never good things… in front of us.

Age 11

-Any letters I received or wrote to friends we moved away from were opened and read, so I stopped writing to my friends.
-Mom said only nerds had real friends.
-Sister told me to climb a tree and I couldn’t get down so she left me there for 2 hours before my Dad heard me calling for her for so long.
-Babysat Sister while she was locked in her room with nothing in it.
-The discipline was so intolerable, I hid things my sister did so she wouldn’t get in trouble.
-Sister went to Foster home or someplace.
-Got pine beetles stuck in my hair allot and became terrified of them.

Age 12-16

-Sister choked me until I was blue, parents came home so she shook me until I could breathe again and begged me not to tell.
-every time I had a friend over, Dad put them to work…so I stopped inviting friends over.
-Packed bags and hid them in my closet…Dad found them and dumped them and told me I couldn’t leave.
-wrote a note to my mom because when I talked to her about problems she yelled at me…she threw it in the garbage without reading it and said if I can’t say it to her face, it’s not important.
-Stayed in my room for three days, Mom came up and demanded I tell her what was wrong so she could help me…told her my problem was her…she exploded.
-Mom told me I could have any friend I wanted…Black, white, or blue…but I couldn’t be friends with this person and that person…etc..
-I was told who Apple was…How Apple dressed…How Apple acted…Who Apple’s friends were…How Apple did her hair…
-Was not allowed to do many things because my brothers and sister screwed up and I would too if given the chance.
-In Beauty Culture in school, I took a small piece of my hair at the back of my neck and put two temporary hair colors in it and braided it…Mom saw it and I was grounded to my room on my sixteenth birthday for it.
-Sister was in and out of the house. (Glenrose, foster homes)
-Sister slapped my face in the parking lot at school for wearing a guy’ s jacket because she liked him…At home I went up to her and TOLD her it was the LAST time she would EVER hit me.
-Mom was mad at me so she walked around for two weeks acting like I didn’t exist…she didn’t talk to me…look at me…she even covered my face in every picture in the house.
-Mom kicked out my sister who was pregnant, the next morning she spoke to me with the sweetest words.  She had just ignored me for two weeks…I finally left home that day.  To live on the streets.

Now Starts my anxiety and depressionAge 16 to 18

-I was a manic depressant at 16 to 18years old. Thought of suiside everyday.
- Molested by my brother and no one believed me.
-I cut myself when I emotionally couldn’t handle guilt for hurting someones feelings, even if it was only in my head.
- I was diagnosed bipolar at 18 but didn’t believe that psyc, he told me to befriend my panic attacks and befriend my mother (of whom abused me). So I never saw him again.  Although realized my depression and relationship problems happened at cetain times of the year.
-  diagnosed with endometriosis

Age 21

- My fiancee left me for another woman when I was 7months pregnant and had to move back in with my parents.
- I stopped thinking of ******* when my first daughter was born.

Age 22 to 30

- left my parents home because of my Mom
- I was on many different meds for depression.
- I suffered panic attacks.
- I suffered pain from endometriosis
- I had cronic fatigue which I assumed was from the pain meds
- Mom threatened to take my daughter away if I did something wrong..many times.
- Had miscarriage at 25, from abuse from new fiancee
- my fiancee abused me physically, financially and emotionally, left him when 2 months pregnant to save my baby
- Had my other daughter at 26
- met my husband to be at 28
- Had hysterectomy at 29
-diagnosed Gad and Panic disorder at 31
- Got married and my parents didnt come.  I wanted my Dad there but my Mom made sure he didnt come.
-Had hypomanic episode for 2 weeks thru 32nd birthday.
- Finally got Mom out of my life.

Here I am, still struggling to make something out of myself.  I have suffered severe anxiety and panic my whole adult life.  Most of the time now I feel I'm doing pretty good, with the new meds.  I have been with this site for a year and a half.  Its has been a saving grace for me.  A place where people understand how I feel.  I think if I just get a grip on my past maybe I can cure myself...I dont know.
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Offline narangie1

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Re: Personal Stories of Anxiety Disorder
« Reply #11 on: June 23, 2007, 12:29:55 AM »
OK...My turn.  My anxiety started when I was 17 years old.  Anxiety seems to run in my family, but not to the degree where I developed panic attack episodes.  When I was in high school, I was insecure about my weight and began purging food.  This happened sporadically for one year and then I was able to realize how maladaptive the behavior was and stopped.  Someone had made a comment, shortly thereafter, that people with bulimia may "develop serious health issues and may damage there esophagus".  For some reason,  that comment really hit home and I began to believe that I really caused damage to my body.  I started feeling really physically and emotionally stressed b/c I was obsessing about the idea that there was something wrong, and this triggered the panic attacks.  Now, I've had one panic attack the year before when I smoked pot, but nothing like this experience.  Of course, I went to several doctors looking for a physical illness that was causing my stress reaction, but nothing was wrong.  It was so scary because this happened within two weeks!  I was never an intensely anxious or shy person prior to this episode.  I stressed myself out to the point where I began having panic attacks in my sleep.  Finally, my parents took me to the emergency room and the hell began!!

Well, they ran several tests and realized I was just extremely anxious.  Since, I was underage they asked my parents if I should be admitted for an evaluation and they agreed.  I was placed in the mental health clinic at the hospital and that made feel worse!  Now, not only was I suffering from anxiety and panic attacks, but people were going to think I was crazy.

Immediately, they convinced my parents I needed medication and they were fearful of my condition so they agreed.  I was given Buspar and Paxil.  I went through hell for 9 days, until the medication took effect.  My anxiety symptoms are very physically stressful (vomiting in the morning, extreme muscle tension, diarrhea, headaches, racing fears, shakiness, you name it etc), which is the core for my worrying.  I was never taught coping skills to deal with the anxiety.  The drugs worked well and I felt like myself again, without any major episodes until I stopped the medication.

This has been the pattern in my life for the past 10 years.  As long as I am on Paxil, I am able to function and control my panic very well.  I am a health professional and I am currently pursuing a PhD.  However, whenever I stop the medication and I have a major change in life, it's like I 've taught myself to repeat that same initial panic cycle until I get back on the medication.  This happens to me about twice a year, typically when there is an emotional relationship involved or if I am taking a trip.  Immediately, when I feel the stress and panic come on I am running to the phone to call the doctor and get back on medication. I believe that this IS a learned behavior because it reflects the treatment I had during my first panic cycle.  I finally decided to try CBT, because I just recently had a relapse when boyfriend moved.  I tried Lexapro and went through hell for 3 weeks, until my doctor and I realize it was not helping and I was getting worse.  I switched back to Paxil and force myself to stay social.  Slowly , I have been improving and I am hoping between my CBT, yoga, exercise, diet and medication that I will get my anxiety back under control.  I become completely non-functional during these episodes b/c I am in complete panic, obsessing about my fears and physically stressed for several days.

Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Yes, anxiety is miserable.  Often, when I feel more balanced, I tell myself that my irrational worries are ridiculous to think about.  If we could only just believe it in our vulnerable states?  Truly, I believe that those suffering from anxiety issues have a combination of environmental and genetic factors that contribute to their insecurities, worries and fears.  However, I do not think anxiety is a purely "psychiatric" issue.  Everyone becomes anxious and OUR bodies tend to do it when there really is no fear present.  We create our own fearful thoughts and our bodies react to those fears, hence the physical stress of anxiety.  Remember, your body doesn't know if your thought is irrational or true, therefore we need to retrain our thinking patterns.  I have suffered long enough and I refuse to let this condition become worse at my stage in life.  However, it is a struggle and even though I can recognize my irrational fears, it doesn't mean I can stop the panic.

I think it is a learning process and we should not give up hope.  Yes, meds may help, but they are not the answer to the root of anxiety/panic.  Hiding the anxiety also makes it more stressful, so I have learned to be more honest with people when I am anxious or having a panic attack.  Sometimes it may seem like I am ADD because I worry so much during these highly anxious times that it's difficult for me to concentrate and pay attention.  Work and school become overwhelming and I tend to become more forgetful about appts etc.  Yes, it's scary but fighting it makes it worse.




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Offline Kate1982

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Re: Personal Stories of Anxiety Disorder
« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2007, 11:14:25 PM »
I suppose I'll post my story as well.   I've always been somewhat anxious and obessive compulsive but it wasn't severe enough or interfering with my life enough to get treatment at the time.   When I was 7 however, my uncle killed himself and a year later my cousin was murdered by a police officer.  My obessive and intrusive thoughts got a lot worse and my social anxiety got a lot worse.  Then when I was about 13 I watched my Grandfather die, moved to Texas with my Grandmother, she got lung cancer and I watched her die, my dog of 15 years was killed, my friend who was the same age as me died of a brain tumor, two other kids who lived on my street were killed by an enraged driver who decided to run them over for throwing rocks at his car (we knew the guy too...very creepy), my father developed a severe drug habit and found out he had MS, my cousin found out he had colon cancer, I found out I had Mitral Valve Prolapse Syndrome and slipped into severe depression all in the same year.
When I was 17 I had my first panic attack and I really thought I was dying.  I had them for about a year before I was finally able to get them under control with self help.   When I was 19 I moved out of my house and into a very small bedroom inside a trailer with my boyfriend, got a full time job (80 hrs a week) and found out that my mother had colon cancer and my cousin's colon cancer (which had gone into remission for several years) was back in the form of lung cancer.  He died later that year.  I went to college and studied art.  Did really well my first year.   Then I found out my mother's cancer had spread.  She died just before the start of my sophomore year.  A week after she died I found out I was pregnant with my first child, my father took alot of drugs went psychotic and ended up in a mental institution, I had taken on 18 credit hours packed with 4 hour long studio classes, my insurance was dropped, my boyfriend was pressuring me to get married, I was moving in with him after school because my father was and had always been abusive and with his state of instability my boyfriend and I didn't want to put me or the baby at risk, but we had no place to live.  I started to get severe panic attacks again.  Got over those with a different self help technique.  Went back to school to get my psychology degree.  Then recently I had my second child, lost my Grandmother, moved in with my husband's Grandmother 3 hours away from my family, got a job, and had a complete breakdown.  I had tons of odd physical symptoms and constant panic attacks several everyday.   I finally started to see a psychologist and am seeing marked improvements.  I recently got my PhD in psychology although I still don't know exactly what I'm going to do with it.  Right now I'm just trying to keep my own life straight and hopefully provide some help and support to others along the way. 
That's my story, sorry it was so long. 
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My psychology thesis is stressing me out more than my anxiety disorder.

"Worry, doubt, fear and despair are the enemies which slowly bring us down to the ground and turn us to dust before we die." -Douglas Macarthur

Offline Quietartist

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Re: Personal Stories of Anxiety Disorder
« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2007, 06:27:41 PM »
Hey everyone.  This is my first post on this board as I'm a new member.  I was informed about how great this site was by a friend of mine who is also a member.  From all the posts I've read so far everyone seems friendly and very helpful.   ;D

To begin, I've had anxiety since I was a child.  Though my earliest problems stemmed from OCD they were soon followed by generalized anxiety and social anxiety.  As I got older I began to close up and hide myself from others.  I became very concerned with how I was viewed; so much that I became agoraphobic for a long period after high school.  As with many of you I became depressed and angry as I watched my life pass me by.  At this time I began counseling and soon learned to control the overpowering negative thoughts I was having.  I have also been on a number of medications--some of which have helped alleviate the symptoms for a while and others which have made them worse.  Since then, I have made steady progress throughout the years marked, every so often, by the occasional relapse. 

It is safe to say that anxiety and its associated problems have changed the person I am.  Because of it I am a somewhat withdrawn, quiet perfectionist.  This thought, however, does not hamper my abilities.  Every day is another opportunity to better myself and get that much closer to the person I truly want to be. 

Thanks for having me!   :action-smiley-065:

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Offline spoiledchild69

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Re: Personal Stories of Anxiety Disorder
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2007, 08:05:34 PM »
I too had my first anxiety attack in college after a couple years of smoking a lot of pot. I quit cold turkey after one night of intense drug use (pot, hash, mushrooms) and the worst "trip" of my life. To this day I can't even be near the stuff.

Anxiety came and went for a couple years then came back strong when my dad dropped dead of a heart attck when I was 23. This was only 6 months after my grandfather had also died of a heart attack -- he was 85, but it didn't really help ease the pain of losing half my family within 6 months of each other.

After that I hooked up with an older man (father figure) and we moved to the country to live the bohemian artist redneck lifestyle. We were going to thumb our noses at conventional society and live stress free on our art and our music and our wits. I must say that I was almost anxiety free during those years, but I still had all kinds of underlying fears and emotional issues. Mostly I was hiding in a little fantasy world. Anyway, after that fantasy world began to wear thin at the edges and the money ran out, we did nothing but fight all the time so I broke up with him and moved in with another man who I literally fell in love and ran off with.

At this point my anxiety came back in spades. I had moved in with almost a complete stranger in a new city, no friends and no job, and proceeded to drift from one dead end situation to the next. I hated the city so finally we got a house in the country. Meanwhile I lost my favorite aunt and uncle, my other grandfather, and a lot of faith in the human race. I finally landed a decent paying job but was laid off two weeks before we closed the deal on the new house. We spent the summer renovating and I remember things not being so bad at that point.

2006 was my most stressful year to date. It started with a major falling out with a friend in the spring. The neighbors dog, which was like ours, got hit by a car. All of my tropical fish died. The hours at my crappy job were being cut all summer long and I was about to default on my credit card bills so I had to find another job. Meantime I was preparing for my wedding, but my grandmother was busy dying in the nursing home and my mother's health began to fail. Two weeks before my wedding I quit my job, started a new one, and my grandmother died. To cap off 2006, my brand new husband almost died of a genetic heart defect 10 days after the wedding. He started getting sick on the honeymoon, then came back and went to his doctor and right into emergency surgery. Helicopter ride and everything. We call it "the accident" because after 10 hours of open heart surgery the whole thing was like he got hit by a truck. All winter 2006-07 I nursed him back to health while working at yet another crappy job, which I quit in the spring.

This spring we joined a new band and I got a great new job. The attacks began to get really bad in the spring about 2 weeks into the new job however, and I thought I wouldn't be able to handle it. But with the help of some beta blockers I am beginning to be able to function a little better. I am just hoping this latest episode will soon pass once I get my situation under control and the friggin world stops falling down around my ears PLEASE GOD.

In short, it's been a rough ride and reading all of this it's no wonder I'm a little NERVOUS!

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