I’ve been waiting all day to write this post. Ever since I reached out to Amber for this series, I eagerly awaited her story.
Amber is one of those people who you can tell is as real and as genuine as they come. She is also amazingly brave, which she displays in her willingness to share about her struggles with anxiety on a day-to-day basis. She is so open to sharing her journey and she truly inspires me.
I know everyone experiences their anxiety differently, but I feel like I understand Amber’s on so many levels. She makes me feel… understood. And after reading her story, I have even more respect for her.
If you want to get to know Amber a little better, you can check our her Blog here!
My first panic attack occurred while I was reading a book. It came out of nowhere. At the time, I was 22. I had no idea what panic or anxiety was. While I always felt anxious or nervous, I had assumed it was just the way I was since none of my friends or boyfriend at the time ever had these problems. It was an acute attack. I was certain my life was ending and my hesitant boyfriend took me the ER. It was late at night. When I reported to the nurse checking me in I couldn’t breathe they immediately saw me. They checked all the things they needed and told me there was absolutely nothing wrong with me physically. “How can that be?” I thought to myself. They recommended I go their psychiatric ward to speak with someone up there. That sounded insanely scary and so I left.
After that my life became a rolling wave of anxiety and panic attacks. They were so frequent and so bad I would sometimes be woken from a sleeping state in the middle of one. I couldn’t take it anymore and finally made an appointment with a doctor. He diagnosed me with panic disorder and put me on medication immediately. He put me on Paxil. I’m a sensitive bean and most medications have profound effects on me. Paxil was harsh and despite my protests was told to stay on it. I immediately took myself off as the side effects were numerous, uncomfortable and the panic seemed worse.
Flash forward to my 30’s.
Through my 30’s I researched and learned a lot about anxiety and panic. While I had learned to somewhat alleviate the panic, I was always riddled with anxiety. When I look back I’m never sure how I made it all those years. How uncomfortable my life was, how people often labeled me a “cry baby” “too sensitive” and “why couldn’t I just be normal?” No one in my life understood my plight. I think my intimate relationships were the worst, as it left my partner blaming me for what they could not understand. I was labeled “difficult” and sometimes “crazy.”
Now I am in 40’s and for the most part I have learned to manage my anxiety and panic in natural ways. However, going to counseling to deal with past trauma has made things difficult despite my usual methods for managing. There are so many stories I could tell you my panic and anxiety, too many to fill in just one post. So, I’ll tell you what’s working and the correct diagnosis I received.
I finally found a doctor and a counselor who understand. My doctor is sympathetic and my counselor is empathetic. I recently went back on medication to help me cope as go through some often-intense counseling sessions. The medication I am on is gentle, it works and it is not a permanent answer for me, but rather a tool to help cope for the time being. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, a mild form of PTSD and depression. My panic and anxiety is the result of a traumatic and emotionally/mentally abusive childhood with an alcoholic parent. I often relive the emotions and trauma of my past through triggers. They are scary and draining and unfortunately it will never go away. There will always be triggers. I don’t lose heart though. My counselor and I (and my incredibly understanding and patient husband) are arming me with the proper tools to be able to handle the battles as the come. My counselor has said; I am a survivor. And while these disorders will always be a part of my life they do not rule my life. I take each day as it comes. I make no apologies for who I am and little by little I coming out of the closet about these disorders. If others choose to attach a stigma that is their problem, not mine. It’s not always easy, there are good days and bad days. I am safe, I am okay and I am a warrior!