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I still remember my first panic attack like it was yesterday. I was lying in bed about to drift off to sleep when, all of the sudden, I felt like I couldnít breathe. I then started focusing on my breathing and realized it was getting worse. I jumped out of bed and ran into my parentís bedroom. I woke my mom up and told her I thought something was wrong. I told her I couldnít breathe. She looked at me, then looked at my fingers and said I had good color. Right then it felt as if the walls were closing in on me. I ran into the bathroom where I vomited and stared at my face in the mirror. I knew right then what it was. I knew what was happening. By this time my mom and dad were both up and standing in the bathroom doorway. The feeling of their presence was yet again enough to send me over the edge. It felt like there wasnít enough air in the world. Not enough to ever fill up my empty lungs. I ran out the door of my house and vomited yet again. And then the shaking. I sat on my steps and held my knees to my chest. My mom sat down next to me. She said I must have the flu and that she would make me an appointment tomorrow. (Of course, she, too, knew then what it was.) The rest of the night I spent sitting in front of the TV not daring to fall asleep for fear that the horrible feeling would come again. Oh the feeling. It is incomprehensible unless you have been graced by its presence. It gnaws at the back of your head, warning you that it is never far away.

I went to the doctor the next day and was given the news. I had had an anxiety attack. She went over my options and prescribed Effexor. When I first started taking the pill, I was horribly nauseous. I couldnít eat or even look at food for days. But that wore off and I was back to eating and back to feeling like my old self again. I really think the medicine worked.

Well, with some stroke of genius (or insanity?) and maybe just I was stubborn, I decided to take myself off the meds. I wanted to fight this battle head on, by myself. I had been reading self help books and really felt like I could do it. The first few weeks of weaning myself off were difficult. I know they say theyíre not addicting, but from my experience, I had begun to depend on them. After getting off Effexor, I had a few bad days every once in awhile but I was pretty good. I realized that my anxiety started because of change in my life. I had just graduated high school, was about to start college, was about to start my first real jobÖ everything was changing. I no longer had the comfort of my life.

Well, that was four years ago. In fact, until yesterday, January of 2004 was the last time I had logged onto this account. And now, I am sadly back. Since 2004 I have met my now husband of one year. We were married in May. I also graduated college in May. Oh, and I became a 6th grade teacher. Wonder what happened next? Yes, of course, anxiety came back into my life about a year ago. The change was too much to handle. It came back at the beginning of this school year. When summer was over and everything was settling in my mind. I couldnít handle all of this change, so I lose it. I am now at a loss for what to do. Thatís why Iím back here. When I first found this community, I cried. What a relief it was to know I was not alone in this battle. I had no idea that others felt just like me. In reality, millions are suffering just like you, just like me. People you pass everyday. Some are fighting our battle too. Thatís why we must fight together. We must support each other.

My first fear was focused on my heart. I was always afraid of it failing. I also had some weird fears, like eating without having something to drink. (Still havenít figured that one out and still deal with it today.) I also have signs of OCD. Not heavy, but have definitely been experiencing them for some time. Now my fear is focused on my head. Iím afraid of tumors, of aneurisms, of losing my mind. And I logged back on here I couldnít handle it anymore. I know, in my heart, that Iím not really sick. That itís all in my head, itís the sickness of panic. But then why do I need a doctor to tell me that? Why canít I just listen to my heart? Is it that difficult? I am almost certain many of my fears are rooted in my childhood. I should probably see a counselor about it. Oh well, in the meantime, I will keep chugging along, if not very slowly. I would love to hear your story.

Keep fighting,

puddiní





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