My journey with anxiety disorder has been a long one. The first anxiety attack (I can remember) occurred when I was around age 10. I woke up in the pre-dawn hours scared out of my wits. Pounding heart, sweaty palms, and rapid breathing through clenched teeth. I crept through the quiet house, opened the front door and sat on the step where I waited for these odd, scary-as-shit symptoms to abate – some very long minutes later.
I assumed it was a nightmare.
While on a school trip in grade eleven, the same thing happened after just having fallen asleep. In a panic, I went to my teacher’s room, explained what was happening and pleaded for help. This time, it wasn’t mere minutes before the symptoms abated, this time it was four long hours. To his credit, my teacher held my hand the entire time – wondering aloud with me, calming me, supporting me.
The entire eleventh grade assumed I was high or drunk.
It wasn’t until years later, after dozens of similarly terrifying episodes, that I learned I had anxiety disorder – a diagnosis that came at the same time as my chronic depression.
I was so relieved to know that I wasn’t going crazy! All those years I had battled the invisible yet oh-so-visceral imaginary demons on my own. Now, the demons had a name and finally, I would get help.
Help for bothanxiety and depression in the form of a tiny pill, talk-therapy (CBT or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and over the long haul, acute self-awareness. And this is the key to continued healing. KNOW THYSELF! Learn to recognize the signs indicative of a depression downturn. Know when your otherwise managed anxiety is evolving – changing its demon mask, sneaking up on you in a different form (different symptoms). SEEK HELP IMMEDIATELY! And whatever you do, do NOT let the demons win!
We are so much stronger than we give ourselves credit for.