I never really experienced anxiety or much of panic attacks until I was 19 years old. When I was younger, of course I would get nervous before exams or before meeting guys for first dates or nervous for little things but it wasn't until I was actually an adult that i started to have the full blown anxiety attacks that felt almost crippling. & when you actually start having anxiety i find it so hard to control it and calm yourself down & to try to find out exactly what it is that is triggering it is a challenge in itself. When i first started getting these terrible anxiety attacks before i would drive to beauty school, i had no idea that i was having an anxiety attack. i would just pace around the house with this terrible gut feeling, & developing a sensation in my lower legs of numbness and i just remember feeling "why do I feel like this, why am i panicking right now, whats wrong with me".
I remember telling a friend at school that I keep getting these feelings almost every day now before i go anywhere where there's going to be people, like school, work, the bar, or even social gatherings like meeting up with a few friends for drinks. Every time i would just feel extremely nervous & my heart rate would increase & it almost became not enjoyable to ever go out anymore unless i was intoxicated at the bar with my friends. Every other occasion though like even going over to my boyfriends at the time would give me terrible anxiety.
I remember telling my friend this & her saying, "it sounds like you have anxiety." I thought about it after she had said that & kind of excepted it and just wanted it to stop. So i saw my doctor but told her I would NOT go on meds for anxiety because i knew how your body becomes dependable on medications like that. So she recommended seeing a counselor or psychiatrist to talk to someone about it & of course i said i would but i knew deep down i probably would never take the time to actually go and speak to someone because who was i kidding i have anxiety not depression i don't need to talk to anyone about my feelings i just want to stop panicking about everything.
I kind of learned to just deal with my anxiety after that. I ignored it until it went away. I avoided extremely uncomfortable situations. & for a while actually my anxiety definitely did start to subside. It was never nearly as bad as it had been the year before so i decided to just live with it.
Then again when i was 21 my anxiety came back full blown and basically everything i ever thought about or anything i wanted to do was complicated by my anxiety and i was never ever happy, all i ever felt was panic, i couldn't make reliable decisions. I started dating a guy that i liked so much and so badly didn't want to mess up this relationship so every thing i said or did around him i would worry about. After our first kiss i remember coming home and literally pacing around my house and yelling out loud "OH MY GOD WE KISSED WHAT IF WE DATE I DON'T KNOW HOW TO BE A GIRLFRIEND ANYMORE OH MY GOD WHAT IF HE DIDN'T WANT TO KISS ME WHAT IF HE JUST DID CAUSE HE FELT HE HAD TO OMG WHAT IF WE ACTUALLY DATE I DONT REMEMBER HOW TO DATE I DONT REMEMBER HOW TO BE A GIRLFRIEND". Yeah... it was literally an anxiety attack because i kissed someone i liked and instead of having butterflies of happiness, all i could feel was panic.
So Ryan & I officially started dating & it was extremely hard in the beginning because all i would think about was how to prevent him from seeing me in a negative way. I would spend hours on my hair, makeup and outfit and change my clothes multiple times and shower twice daily before going to his place and go out of my way to make sure i looked good and never smelled bad & all i did was worry about stupid things that i really did not need to worry about. Basically the 6-9 months of our relationship i never 100% felt relaxed or at ease or calm which was so hard because i loved him so much and i just wanted to be calm around my boyfriend. I mean there were definitely times better than others when i would be more relaxed when we were just cuddling on the couch watching netflix. I was always just worried about what he was thinking and of what he thought of me.
It wasn't just occasions with my boyfriend that i felt my anxiety. But just life in general. Many days after work i would come home in a panic worrying about what I'm doing with my life and how i am running out of time to find happiness. My mom and sister would just listen to my rants in shock and tell me to calm down & joke about me going through a mid life crisis even though to me it was definitely not a joke. This was serious what was i doing with my life? That's all i ever thought about.
Here's an copy of a note i left in my phone May 21, 2015 5:50AM
I swear to god the struggles of this anxiety I seriously just want it
gone like I cannot sleep anymore even melatonin doesn't work. any thing
happening on a daily basis gives me anxiety I panic at the thought of
interacting with people & saying something & having people
judging me for saying that like I panic thinking omg this person thinks
I'm retarded why am i like this why don't people like me & I panic
thinking that people are picking up & reading it off me that I'm
even panicking & then I panic even more at that it's literally every
social interaction with people that has me panicking.
not even just the social part of the anxiety but my daily life is so
hard to plan out especially when it comes to planning to make sure I
have enough time to do everything like going to work then come home
& get ready for my other job it's so hard to explain the daily
stress & anxiety because it is literally about every single thing I
deal with like every decision I have to make I second guess myself &
I am so full of self doubt & I question myself every day &
question why I am like this. & then make myself feel worse about my
life because I haven't got my shit together yet I'm 22 & still at
home & I don't even know what I want to go back to school for yet
but I really don't want to be stuck serving for the rest of my life but I
need money to be successful & I panic at having no money & I
panic at not living a happy life & I just want the panic feeling to
go away pls
can't sleep without melatonin now & that's barely even helping now
too like if I'm at Ryan's house & I forgot my melatonin I fucking
panic like I literally need it. but when I take it every night I
basically wake up at the same time wide awake & it takes me hours to
fall back asleep & I feel tired all the time but I need to make
sure I get 8 hours of sleep other wise I'm weird without enough sleep
& can't function in social situations properly so i need to make
sure I sleep. but I am wide awake right now & cannot fall back
asleep so how the hell am I going to work tomorrow? I basically can't
because I have a hair appt at 10 & then I work at 5 but I do not
have time to come home & nap because I have a house to clean to
prepare for my birthday party this weekend & I'm panicking I have no
time for sleep but I need to fucking sleep 😔😩😖 this is crippling to
Literally.. the panic at everything. Back in April before i wrote this in my notes on my phone, I got a serving/waitressing job just for extra money. But it was literally painful to go to work and uncomfortably speak to strangers everyday. My legs would go numb as i was walking into the restaurant. It got to the point where i couldn't take it anymore. I needed it to stop. I had spoken to someone who helped my shift my view on depression/anxiety medication completely. "It's the quality of life, Shelby. If something can help you feel better about life in general, then why not?"
That was it. I was going back to my doctor and asking for medication. No more planning on ignoring it or getting a hold of it. Its not going to just go away, if anything it has just gotten worse over the years & its painful to just live my life and do the things i want without anxiety everyday. So i did. I went in there and told my doctor straight up that i wanted to start taking something for it. She agreed that it was probably a good decision based on how i was feeling, so she prescribed me Celexa/Citalopram.
I was actually so excited to start & so excited to finally feel better. The first 10 days of the half pills were extremely hard. I knew there would be side affects but i didn't think much of it at the beginning. All i felt was tired and drowsy. Its like i was in a third person view and i was floating. Nothing seemed real. I was just so painfully drowsy. After the first week, i had to up the dose to the full pill and the first few days of the full dosage i still felt tired but after that it went away & after that, without even realizing i started to feel better.
Now I have been taking Celexa for 2 and a half months and I must say it was definitely a good decision and I kind of wish i started taking something sooner than i did. I no longer feel nervous to walk into work, or walk into the bar to meet my friends. My boyfriend has now seen me without makeup and I don't even care. I now eat comfortably around him and his family. I can talk to them or express my opinion to them without panicking about saying something wrong like i used to. I don't stutter or have terrible gut feelings before going to job interviews. I can now drive around my city without the panic of driving in general.
I wouldn't go as far as saying i feel 100% happy now, but i definitely feel better. I feel more....normal. I feel like i can have conversations with people i don't know & i don't worry about what they think of me.
My outlooks on life have changed, & instead of drowning in self doubt and panic, i feel like a weight has almost been taken off my shoulders.
I feel lighter & happier.