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Thank you for your very kind message and words of support - they are most appreciated, and very much welcome at this time! Your words of comfort are truly appreciated. In terms of therapy: You are probably right; it may be a mix of not connecting in the best way with my original therapist, along with some other factors - but the blame can also partially be put on me, as I was struggling with teaching and with some other duties and with anxiety at the time.

She gave me resources and links and so on for CBT worksheets, self-care and compassion sites and so on - but I struggled to keep up with that, as well as my work duties, so in the long run, I did not do as much as I could have. I was absolutely overwhelmed with anxiety and struggled to finish work with students. At the same time, it is good to have options, and I am making arrangements to find and work with someone else now. I hope that it goes well.

When I first went on medication, I was really hoping that it would help more. There are times when I can sense it working better than on other days, but it is frustrating, that it is not consistent. For example on days when I'm very tired, I can barely feel it at all, but others I do much more acutely. I guess it depends. I was of the hope that there was a stronger medication that would relieve more of the worst of the thoughts, but I realize this is my responsibility and burden to follow. The positive side is that I have very few side effects from any psychiatric medication I have been on. If anything I have lost weight because of them.

I have basically quit coffee, and rarely drink it anymore. I at one point used to have a bit of a drinking problem, but now I have the occasional 2-3 beers or glass of wine (never touch hard liquor anymore), and even that makes me feel a bit strange. Hangovers impact me severely, so they are also a powerful deterrent to just avoid them at all. I have even had panic attacks triggered by drinking coffee. Some were so severe, that I had to take an ativan to stop it. I realize that my body has physically changed, and things I used to enjoy are off limits, but I accept this now.

In the term I mentioned in my first post, there were days where I rarely felt hungry. Sometimes I would eat only a bowl of cereal the entire day, other times nothing. I ended up losing around 10 pounds as a result. Since then I regained appetite and some weight too. I will incorporate more of your diet suggestions. I am also eating more simply often, and incorporating things like fruit-rich smoothies into my diet, as well.

One thing that I do worry about, is how to 'treat' a fear, like that of death and dying. I know it is a natural part of life, but it terrifies me so very much, and somedays I cannot cope with this knowledge and fear. I am envious of other people, who enjoy their lives and simply live day to day without obsessing on this fear. As someone who travels and flies often, I never had a fear of planes or flying, ever, and over the course of the last few years, it has cropped up more. Even a little bit of turbulence makes me think the plane is going down, and that is it for me ... terrifying at the time, but then after landing and getting on with the day or destination, it disappears. It is hard to describe, but this phobia is something that is this kind of 'slow burn', for lack of a better word. This type of fear that is always with me, somewhere in the back of my mind, sometimes it is much less severe, other times it flares off. I cannot 'turn off' this fear.

And on it goes ... I do believe that whatever it was, those painful events I talked about in the original post, have left a mental scar that is not finished healing. I have always struggled incredibly with relationships, and have never been close to even being engaged, let alone talk of marriage or anything else like children. The fear that a future partner may judge me for this, making my difficulties with this essential element of life much tougher to deal with ... it is difficult to date in your late 30s, let alone with severe anxiety. And absolutely right ... next time I am seeing a therapist, I will discuss some of the unhelpful things I do, and how to change them. There are many more things I hope to cover with a professional, and I understand that this is going to be a very long term process for me.

Thank you also, for your kind words about relationships and emotions. I agree, too often I allow emotions, and often ones on extreme ends of the scale, to control my thoughts and decisions, and sometimes the things I say and act. I appreciate your words about me - I do try very hard to be ambitious in my work and career, and I need to use more these practical skills to enhance my life, and not push them aside in favor of extreme emotions and feelings.

Yesterday, I had another panic attack. It did not last as long as some others, more my arm began to slightly shake a few hours before, and when lying in bed waiting for sleep, it took over. I had some VERY dark thoughts running through my head, almost as if my mind was telling me negative and self-critical things. It was very scary at the time, it really upset me, and it has left a general feeling of unpleasantness today. Sometimes I just need someone who cares to offer a helpful word, and I thank you for it :)

My last question/thought: Is GAD/SAD a true mental illness, in how it is understood? What I am trying to say is, that my experiences over the last few years, in becoming a mental health patient reliant on psychology and psychiatry to help me, and the judgemental way some people treat me, have made me question many things. I worry that people will judge me for this (some do/have), and it is sometimes difficult to tell some people about it, because on the surface, I look fine to them. I never thought I would be someone dealing with this, but I feel I am starting to finally accept it. I had some very painful and judgemental experiences when my anxiety was at its supreme height. I was traveling in different countries, and did even extensive, private blood work in several clinics, convinced something was there. I did blood tests again earlier this year. Having them all come back clean was frustrating. When on those travels, I had a waiter in a restaurant ask me if I was OK, as when on a date with my ex, I began to somewhat stumble over words when ordering. I had a doctor tell me he found nothing wrong with test results and that 'he can see I'm a nervous person'. And a border guard asking me why I looked so nervous, and if I was carrying drugs - to which he had a trained police dog sniff my luggage :(

As difficult as it is, I refuse to give in or to give up, although it can be very hard some days. As happy as I am to be on leave and to be taking a break from all that, I find it difficult to tell people what I'm doing now, except some close friends and family. Thank you very much again. I will keep working to improve and to become a better person, and a less anxious person, too. Thank you again. I am happy to know that I'm not alone with this.

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