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well I found this board months ago when my dad was having problems with a manic depression episode. It also was extremely helpful this summer when my grandmother was passing away slowly with respiratory failure. Now I hope it will provide the same comfort, advice, etc. for me.

This may be long as I've always found telling my story to be somewhat therapuetic and since I haven't thought out exactly what I would be saying it may begin to ramble. Thank you for bearing with me.

Anyway I'll get right to the point, then into the details if anyone wants to read on. Basically, I am just wondering if anyone here who struggles with anxiety/depression ran into problems with getting married/making a commitment to a relationship (or know someone who did)? I think what I really want to know/hear is that I'm somewhat "normal" and the thoughts I'm having, though exaggerated by anxiety, are meaningless. Basically, I just want someone to tell me everything will be "okay."

I have found that through all my struggles with anxiety, that is all I ever want, is someone to tell me everything is fine. The funny thing is, I'm not sure how much good it really does, but I keep seeking it out. Its strange.

Anyway here's my story.

My parent were divorced before I entered the 1st grade. My 1st day in my new school, I began suffering major anxiety problems (of course I didn't know what it was back then). I threw up during lunch that day, and for the first 3 months of school I was constantly in the nurse's office and constatnly having my mom come pick me up. Finally the school counselor suggested my mom take me to a child pscyhiatrist.

She never did, I think mainly she didn't want to be seen as a "failure" as a parent considering she was only 3 months removed from living with my dad. I'm guessing now she considered it showing weakness. Of course, I didn't want to go see a psychiatrist either, I had no idea what that was and was terrified of doctors in general. As a result, I quit showing my anxiety outwardly in school. I can remember back to my 1st grade class sitting in my little desk having what I now recognize as a "panic attack," I would want to run to the door so bad, but I made myself stay planted in my seat.

Anyway fastforward a few years to junior high/high school. Growing up I was always a little bit of a hyperchondriac and can remember being frightened of the school cafeteria because I once overheard my teacher saying there were "aides" in the cafeteria. Of course she meant teachers aides, I took it to mean AIDS. Anyway, I kept most of this inside.

But beginning in junior high when we started our health classes, I could no longer keep it inside. The symptoms of all the horrible diseases we read about (shortness of breathe, tingling in fingers, racing heart, chest pains, etc.) seemed to be exactly what I was having (now I understand this was anxiety). At the time, I convinced myself that I was having both heart disease and strokes on a daily basis. I confided in my mom, she laughed. I confided in my dad and he tried to explain things to me rationally. I wasn't listening. I read everything I could about diseases, I convinced myself I had everything from colon cancer to throat cancer to congestive heart failure.

I begin obsessing on those thoughts, the negative thoughts taking over all rational thoughts to the contrary. I would constantly have to call my dad so he could tell me I was "okay." I would feel better for 2o minutes, the immediately the bad thoughts would come. Eventually during high school freshman year, it whipped me so bad that I became severely depressed to the point where I didn't even care anymore. The best way for me to deal with the thoughts was to just to hope I did have cancer and hope it would hurry and kill me to put me out of my misery. I can remember thinking how bad everyone would feel for not believing me. When I told my mom about these feelings, she became concerned and immediately made me an appointment to see a psychiatrist.

After talking to him for an hour, I had a whole new view on life. It was the first time I had ever heard of "panic attacks" or anxiety as a disease. I found out that millions of people had similar problems. He did put me on meds (xanax and prozac) but I'm not sure how much they helped. The most helpful thing was just learning I was not alone. I stayed on the meds for a year but had started feeling so much better I decided I could get off. I quit going to the doc and thought I had really turned the corner just by knowing what it was I had suffered from.

The rest of high school was incident free until my senior year. I began to get nervous about the upcoming change (something I now realize triggers my episodes - change) but nothing full blown like before. Then one day I went to see my doctor for a rash on my leg. My regular doc wasn't in, it was my first doctor visit alone (without mom), during a normal exam, the doctor listened to my heart and became very interested. All of a sudden all the panic came back. He told me I had a heart murmur that he was very concerned about and that I needed to go see a cardiologist that he recommended. I absolutely freaked out, back to the bad stuff again. The good news in the end is I went back to my regular doc a week later, he listened to my heart and said the 'murmur' I had was actually something very common and not serious at all(1 of 4 people have it, I forget what its called). I also went to another doctor for a second opinion, he said I didn't have a heart murmur. Years later the first doctor I went to (that said I had the murmur) was arrested for trading drugs for sex. But thats sort of beside the point I guess. Anyway, bottom line is, I was a wreck again, even though doctors was telling me I was fine, I convinced myself otherwise.

Again it took a trip to a psychiatrist and another round of meds to stabilize me again, but I eventually got back to normal again and settled in at college. College was great at first. I stayed on my meds, had a few minor anxious episodes but nothing major.

During my second year at college (the best year of my life so far) I met my now fiancee', Janet (ah, finally getting back to the original point of the thread, but I just feel like all the background helps tell my story). It was love at first sight for me. I was crazy about her. For the first time in my life, I felt really happy. I loved doing things with her, I had no fear, I bungee-jumped, I had no problems going over big bridges (something that used to cause panic attacks), I finally felt like a normal person. I can remember being so happy back then. I would do anything to make Janet smile and anytime I was with her I felt so complete. So happy, that I decided I didn't need my medicine anymore, plus I didn't want her to know I needed medicine, so I stopped again.

After we dated for about a year and a half something terrible happened. One of my friends from high school came over one night and told me he had a brain tumor. He told me he had been having headaches for 3 or 4 months and began getting very dizzy. He had just had a CAT scan or MRI or whatever it was and they found a tumor. He had to have it biopsied. This was the first time since I had met my fiancee' that my old struggles popped up. It took over slowly. I would imagine myself having dizzy spells. Soon, I would notice myself having headaches. Before long, I woke up every morning with a headache and it would not go away. In less than a month, I had convinced myself that I too had a brain tumor. This also corresponded with what was my last year in college and another big change coming up.

During this time Janet was amazing. She put up with me, a guy who 2 months earlier had been ready to party all night or pick up and head anywhere at the drop of a hat, now I delegated myself to bed, convinced that I had tumor growing inside my head. Of course, Janet couldn't understand, but she tried so hard. I finally confided in her my history of anxiety, etc. and she was completely understanding. She encouraged me to seek counselling which I did again. This time, the doc gave me Xanax and Zoloft.

During this time though I began to question my relationship with Janet. It was nothing that she had done, but I started wondering why she couldn't make me feel better anymore. I thought she had cured me of my anxiety problems, but now here I was worse than ever. I know its stupid logic, but that is how I was thinking at the time. This was the first time I began having what I call "doubts." Prior to the brain tumor episode, I was strongly considering asking her to marry me, now I was wreck and decided to put it off until I started feeling better. Then I started questioning why I "put it off," did this mean something? Was I reading too much into something as usual? At that time, I made a mistake, I confided in my mom (who by that time had been remarried and redivorced twice and who was all in all very bitter about marriage in general). I told her I had wanted to ask Janet to marry me, but now I was having second thoughts and did that mean anything. Her advice, I still remember to this day.

She said something to the effect of, "if your having second thoughts, you need to break up with her now. I wish I would have broken up with your father as soon as I had second thoughts. It would have changed everything. You don't have second thoughts about true love."

[continued on next post]

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