Hi, My Name is Jeff, and I Suffer from Anxiety

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Hi, my name is Jeff—and I suffer from anxiety. I have battled anxiety my entire life: low-level anxiety and even something far greater and more debilitating that comes in waves from this deep, dark chamber of my brain. It is only now, in my thirties, after having a full blown panic attack which woke me from my sleep, I fully realized what was going on inside my head.

I hesitated going public with this, putting it on my blog. Many suffer from anxiety after all. I’m no one special. And, it’s a private matter, right?

I decided for a few reasons to go public: I know three people, all in the grade below me, who committed suicide. Three people who are no longer on this earth. Three sets of parents who outlived their children. And while I am not suicidal (my great anxiety is death and dying, which, in a nutshell, means I am terrified of death and dying), I have an understanding of what it feels like to suffer solitarily, hiding what I experience from the outside world.

I have other friends who very clearly suffer from deep depression, who think they have it well hidden. Some try to mask it with drugs. Others, alcohol or sex or binge eating or exercise or overworking. But they can’t hide it from me. I can see through the facade. I am a former smoker who can smell cigarette smoke a 1/2 mile away.

I have one friend who had a gun in his mouth with his finger on the trigger when I knocked on the door of his house when we were teenagers. I didn’t know it at the time, of course. It’s something he told me months later—that he was going to, in his words, “blow his brains out because he couldn’t take it anymore.” He told me I saved his life. I knocked on his door that day to share the lyrics to a song I had written called “Fallen Angel.” I left the lyrics on his bed and told him to think of some guitar chords that would work well with it. There are a few lines in the song that read:

So he put a gun to his head and he started to cry
I said, “Man, it’ll be okay but not if you die.”
He said, “I want to be happy. I want to feel free.”
“I’m tired of living this life. I just want to sleep.”
“I never want to wake up. I never want to worry.”
“I’m tired of living every day like I’m in a hurry.”
I said, “You can’t die on me now.”
“I’ve known you far too long.”
“I know you can make it through this.”
“I know that you’re strong.”

I had no idea I had written a song about my friend.

They probably felt all alone, the ones that committed suicide or the ones who contemplate it, that no one ever went through mentally the terrible things they did. I also have relatives that suffer(ed) from mental illness. So, I am here to tell you, if you suffer from anxiety or depression or some other behavioral health issue (I think ‘behavioral health’ is a better term and has less stigma or negative connotations than ‘mental illness’), you’re not alone.

It’s the great crisis in America that hardly anyone wants to admit. I don’t know why. No one is embarrassed to seek treatment for skin cancer or high cholesterol or diabetes. Yet, behavioral health is this uncomfortable topic in America, in the world, that renders in the minds, because of this lack of national discussion, the afflicted as “weak” or “not strong enough,” someone who needs just to “suck it up.”

So, if you read my blog, you’ll begin to see me share my stories of anxiety, from the time I was four years old until now. I think it’s an important discussion and I hope it’s one you will take part in—even if you prefer to remain anonymous in the comments section below. I am also seeking therapy from a trained counselor, so I’m not just “doing it on my own” like I have in the past. That doesn’t work. We all need support. Today was my second visit. I felt like a new person after just my first visit. I feel great, again. I haven’t felt this way in a very long time, if ever.

This post is part of the Overcoming Anxiety series.

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Photo: Jeffrey Pillow. “Self portrait” in ink, paint, digital.

36 Comments

  1. Jeff, I admire you for writing this. Good luck with your therapy. Everyone has something!

    • Thank you. Having a full blown panic attack was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Sounds odd, but it’s turning a negative into a positive, which if I can say is one of my better character traits, it’s the ability to do that. It forced me to confront something that has held me back in many ways for so long. It’s always been there, the anxiety, but never at the level it’s been recently. It’s been very strong since my dad passed. This is me finally confronting his death. Something I never fully did when it happened.

  2. Thank you for sharing Jeff. Life can be so stressful for so many. Anxiety and depression are silent killers and they are many people’s reality. I’m sure your wife and beautiful children bring a smile to your face everyday! Great blog…..

    • I concur with you 100%. They are definitely these little silent predators that so many hide for whatever reason, perhaps the stigma, whether it’s from family, friends, or the workplace. That’s why I paused before I wrote this. Don’t want anybody to know. But that’s been the whole problem. Keep it hidden. It just builds and builds on the inside, which is why I finally had a panic attack. It took that to wake me up to face this because it’s been controlling many aspects of my life — things I do, things I don’t do. Ready to face the music and deal with this head on. I hope others that read this decide to do the same.

  3. Jeff, this is such an important topic and I applaud your willingness to be so transparent with your experiences. My struggle with anxiety began during my first year of college. I had a lot of trouble adjusting to being away from home and began suffering from panic attacks and severe insomnia. I was a wreck but did everything I could to hide it from the people around me. I almost didn’t make it through that first year. Eventually I shared my situation with my parents and they arranged for me to see a therapist. I was embarrassed but agreed to go and it turned out to be one of the most valuable experiences of my life. I learned to recognize my anxiety and worked hard to develop coping skills that I still use in my life today. I still struggle at times. I have seriously considered going back to therapy a few times over the years (during one particularly stressful time I called my insurance company to inquire about my behavioral health coverage and ended up sobbing into the phone to a completely unprepared customer service rep for a half hour. Yikes). We all live busy, stressful lives. Everyone has anxiety over something- money, work, kids, family, health, fear of the future, fear of failure. No one is immune from that entirely. Too many people suffer in silence. My prayer is that we can create a culture where it’s acceptable to share our trouble and to ask for help. The first step is to talk about it. Thanks for starting the conversation.

    • Hello Becky. I had no idea you ever went through that. But then again, that appears to be the pattern of those who battle anxiety. We hide it and let it build up inside until we’re like a soft drink with a loose lid that has been shaken. I’m glad you approached your parents and ended up speaking with a counselor. I bet it felt great. I feel like this huge weight has been lifted off my chest in doing the same.

      My anxiety was horrendous at that age, when everyone went off to college, though I didn’t realize what was really taking place inside me. I would still hang out occasionally, but mainly I withdrew. Like totally withdrew. I don’t miss that time in my life.

      What you say about recognizing the anxiety when it’s building is invaluable. I never recognized it until recently. I don’t know why. It took a full-on panic attack to wake me up, and not just figuratively speaking, but physically. My subconscious could not contain it anymore.

      Now that I am aware of this thing called anxiety, on all levels big and small, I am sort of conditioning my brain to fight back at times and other times to just let the thoughts happen and not judge them. Just have the thoughts and be done with them. It’s very empowering.

      I’m glad you are on the mend, even if you do struggle at times. I, too, wish for the day when we can have a real discussion on this topic and similar topics. I do think it’s getting better, or at least heading in the right direction. Whether someone agrees or disagrees with the Affordable Care Act, and I’m not concerned with anyone’s personal politics, mental health and substance abuse benefits are now essential benefits that have to be covered — and that is a big step in the right direction. I know ten years ago, if you filed a behavioral health claim, your insurance premium would skyrocket. While I didn’t experience it, I know people that did.

      Thank you for reading and for sharing your story.

      Hope you and the family are doing well. Your kids are so cute they should wear an award of some sort buttoned on their shirt.

  4. Jeff – I applaud your courage to be open with this. I only wish our Andrew had shared his demons with us so we could have helped him. Why do we all try to act is if everything is doing just fine? It takes so much courage to admit that life is sometimes hard and that things don’t always go well – and to ask for help from those who love you.

    • I’m very sorry about your son. I know that was and still is very difficult. I can’t say I know what you went through, or are going through even now, because that is just an event that you can’t understand until it happens to you. But I do hope one day we can be at a place where someone’s child is saved because the discussion is happening. I’ve lost friends to suicide, one a particularly good friend, who, if I had to classify someone as my “best friend” when I was 15-19, it would have been him. I watched him lose his mind to schizophrenia and I felt helpless, unable to do anything. Schizophrenia, of course, is not depression, but both are equally tumultuous and have their own unique consequences, just as anxiety and others have. I think many life jackets are needed. Life buoys. Helping hands. Open minds and open ears.

  5. I’ve suffered from depression, the post pardum sort and other times in life. The first sort was diagnosed by physicians but the other I was able to recognize. There is a stigma that comes with anxiety and depression. You worry people will think you’re crazy, and in my cases I felt that way. I was never to the point of even considering hurting myself or others, but I felt very out of control. I, too, got help from counselors, and they helped exponentially. I still battle with anxiety from time to time, and I don’t know about you, but mine seems to be getting worse as I get older, but I know my signs when/if I need help. You do feel all alone when you’re going through it because it isn’t something that is talked about. You are the man.

    • Thanks for sharing, Carmen. Postpartum depression is no joke. It is very real. Very. I have worked on a lot of literature and education on postpartum depression in my profession. It’s one of the big pieces we communicate to new moms because it can be so devastating mentally and emotionally. There are the baby blues, which most women get, and then there’s postpartum depression, which is a whole new ballgame.

      There is definitely a stigma that lingers. Lingers probably isn’t a strong enough word. Perhaps, hovers. I do think our generation and the next generation are a little more in tune to behavioral health. Some of the old norms, the sweep it under the rug mentality, are being let go of — not fully, but more so than before. I hope. There is better access now, too, and better coverage with insurance. It used to be that if you wanted to seek help, it meant you would soon experience financial hardship due to increased premiums and co-pays. It’s an essential health benefit in insurance now, which is great.

      I get what you’re saying about worrying others will think you’re crazy, or worrying yourself that you’re crazy. I’ve thought many times, just sitting alone by myself, “what is wrong with me?”

      I’m not sure if getting older has made it worse for me. I mean, if I think about it, I had it pretty terrible when I was younger, like really young. I just didn’t realize what ‘it’ was. At the same time, I do think I have conditioned myself to make it worse as I’ve gotten older. It’s like I’ve started believing those thoughts that enter my head when I should be doing the opposite.

      And being a parent, having kids, that’s what I think it is more than even growing older. You not only worry about yourself but you worry about them. You worry about your spouse. It’s not just you anymore. You now have extensions of love to protect. But yeah, getting older, too, makes total sense. We realize we aren’t invincible anymore. We can open our yearbook and see a slew of people who don’t exist on this earth anymore. It can end, and that’s scary.

      But all I can say is, based on the feedback I’ve seen from this post, I’m not alone. You’re not alone. A whole lot of folks aren’t alone.

  6. You have no idea by sharing this who else you might save. We never know someone elses journey.

    • I hope that’s the case. Or someone just seeing what others have commented. I was saying to someone else how alone it feels, but when we speak up there’s this chorus of voices all singing a similar song. We just never knew. It’s very encouraging.

  7. We went to school together Jeff. I appreciate your taking time to write this. As another sufferer of crippling anxiety and depression, which resulted in over ten years of alcoholism and addiction, from which I’ve now been in recovery for almost 2 years, I completely agree that it’s not disdiscussed enough. Glad someone is bringing this important subject to light. Looking forward to reading more.

    • Hi, Elizabeth. Yes, I remember you. And thank you for reading. I am glad to hear you are on the road to recovery. Keep your head up. I know it’s easier said than done because the thing with anxiety–the crippling level like you mention–is that it comes out of nowhere. You can be totally blindsided by it. But like Becky mentioned above, it’s all about recognizing it, and then, excuse the phrase, grabbing it by the balls and not letting it control you or bring you down to a level where you don’t want to be. I guess I’m at that stage now: recognizing it. I was oblivious to what I was experiencing. I just didn’t know what was wrong with me and why it wouldn’t stop. Stay strong.

  8. Thank you for writing this. We all have something and anxiety is mine. It’s hard for people to relate that have never experienced it before. Some people just don’t understand that sometimes it’s a struggle just to go through the motions of life and pretend everything is okay when the tightness in your chest and having to remind yourself to take deeper breaths, tells you otherwise. It’s nice to know you’re not alone.

    • Thank you for sharing. I echo your sentiments when you say it’s tough when others don’t understand what it, anxiety, is like. For example, I know someone who has experienced panic attacks for years, but it wasn’t until I experienced my first full-blown panic attack–just recently–did I get it. And after I experienced that did I realize what I had been dealing with my entire life: anxiety.

  9. I suffer from anxiety and depression as well. Though, I do not speak about it often. A year ago, my anxiety( I can’t handle death at all) went to a new level. I had to start taking meds again and started seeing a counselor. For a while I felt weak and alone. Mostly embarrassed. I questioned everything about life and wondered why me all the time. Counseling has helped tremendously. It has helped me see how brave, strong, and resilient I am. As I poured my life’s history out to my counselor, she looked up at me and said, ” and yet you’re still standing.” I thought to myself, ” Damn right, I’m still standing.” Some times our thoughts are so convoluted that we need someone else to help us straighten them out.

    I’ve always looked up to and respected you( from afar). Thanks for sharing, Jeff

    • It sounds like you have a great counselor. I like the statement she said to you: “and yet you are still standing.” I think sometimes that’s the confidence in ourselves (spoken from someone else) we need to hear.

      It’s tough. I’m not new to anxiety. Just new to realizing what this torment is. Now that I have identified it, my plan is to punch it in the face. Ha. Had I spoken with a counselor a long time ago, I could have been on “the path to recovery” much sooner. You live, you learn, I suppose.

      And it’s true, the embarrassment. That that is how you feel, we feel. Even posting this blog there was this stripe of shame down my back. Even now, despite the response, there is still some embarrassment. There shouldn’t be. It’s just that we somehow feel inadequate or weak because that’s the game society has played with behavioral health issues forever. Don’t talk about it. Hide it. I think our generation is starting to say no more.

      Thank you for sharing and for the kind words in regard to respecting me from afar.

  10. I appreciate you writing this. It’s hard for people to open up and share something so personal about themselves. You may or may not know that I had a son pass away at nine days old a little over a year ago. I suffered from anxiety before Micah passed away, but since his death my anxiety has been incredibly bad. It’s always nice to have others who experience the same sorts of things. Good luck to you!

    • Hi Jamie. First, I am really sorry for your loss. I did know that until recently. I believe one of my Facebook friends shared a link to your photography and there was a note on the page about how you wanted to capture other people’s beautiful memories because of how precious life can be.

      I wish you the best in your healing, and if you haven’t, I would suggest counseling if/when you are ready. My anxiety, particularly the fear of death and dying, though that’s not the only type of anxiety I have, got extremely worse after my dad passed. I never confronted my dad’s death appropriately to be honest, which is why, now, the anxiety has come to a head. It took me six years to talk to someone, so I am not exactly the model for timeliness, which is why I suggest to anyone who is willing, and you have to be willing is the key, to talk to a trained professional. A friend’s ear is great, but a neutral ear can really let you spill what’s inside. And if you cry, you cry. I cried at my first visit.

  11. Thank you for this. I have been ‘coping’ most of my life first it was food then prescription meds. I saw a series of psychiatrists for the meds and was referred to a few counselors through the years but each of them left before we got anywhere (adding to my anxiety and depression). One of my doctors said I was ‘uni-polar ‘, I am either neutral or depressed/anxious, never happy. Never happy! I have been to the hospital twice thinking I was having a heart attack. Once they decided it was only anxiety, I was sent on my way with no referral, suggestions or concern. I have planned how to get out of all of it so many times. I don’t use the ‘s’ word. Usually my car or pills are the solution but I don’t want to hurt anyone else. I have taken leave from my job more than once due to the a/d and have now left my job completely due to those issues. After reading your blog today I am inspired to try the counseling thing once more. Thank you for inspiring me to try to get out of this dark hole again.

    • I have a friend who goes through similar stretches as what you mention. Job leave. What you call “uni-polar,” as in neutral or depressed/anxious. I would say there is never any full happiness with this individual, which makes me sad because (s)he is a very caring, compassionate person, but I know on the inside she is fighting what feels like a losing battle. While I did not quit my job personally, I came close once, actually twice (I’ll blog about the second when I share more stories about my anxiety in the future. Now that I think about it, I did quit a job once over my anxiety… I’ll have to write about that, too, I guess), when I found out I was going to have to fly for work. I wrote a post about it, jokingly I guess to cope, (that’s my default coping mechanism) but it was really terrifying and debilitating and embarrassing though I know many have a similar phobia of flying. Granted, it wasn’t just flying. It was the anxiety of being in an airport, a hotel, and a big city I had never been in (by myself), too. Then I was paranoid that the medication the doctor had prescribed was going to kill me if I ate or drank the wrong thing, like grapefruit juice. I just hate my imagination sometimes. It’s a double-edged sword.

      I am glad to hear you are open to counseling again. I didn’t write this in the blog, but I once tried counseling when I was 19 years old, for an entirely different matter, and did not have a good experience so I shunned the idea for over 14 years until two weeks ago. I equated my first counselor with every counselor, which, considering how well I like the counselor I am seeing now was a mistake on my part.

      Thank you for sharing and best of luck. Please do schedule an appointment. Ask beforehand how long the counselor has been at the practice to make sure it’s someone who is pretty permanent at their post. You have that right as a prospective patient to ask those questions before committing.

  12. Although I do not have this issue, my 31 years in the social work field made me realize that so many people do. I applaud you for sharing this info & letting others know there is help out there and they are not alone. I think most of us have some disorder whether we know/admit it or not ….whether it is OCD, depression, addiction to alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, food etc. Nobody is perfect…we all have our struggles.

    • Thanks Margaret. I’m sure you see it quite often and up close. When I stop to think about friends and family, that’s when I start to realize how common this type of thing is, or any type of behavioral health issue. It’s why some people are alcoholics, for example. They aren’t alcoholics because they enjoy the taste of beer; they are alcoholics because that is how they cope, how they drown their sorrows or anxiety. Or they use drugs. Or eat. Or overwork. It makes me see things differently now. The struggles people go through. The silence. Thank you for doing what you do, too. I know social work can be a very demanding job. I have friends and co-workers in the profession. What you do is appreciated.

  13. Jeff this was an eye opener for me! My son has ADHD and has a focusing problem we have been on every medicine there is for his age and now we are going to see a pediatric physiologist. I feel so bad because it’s so hard for him and people just don’t understand that there is such thing as ADHD and people really don’t know how to deal with it. They want to put it off as a learning disability instead of a real factor in life!! Thank you so very much for coming out and letting us know more about the factors of what you are going through and letting us know more to what anxiety is all about!

    • My wife, who is a guidance school counselor, was talking about this recently. She said, “everyone thinks kids with ADHD just can’t sit still, [etc.], but there’s more to it than that. It’s an actual condition. It’s real.”

      She sees it often. Those are some of the kids that come to her office after all. I wish you the best in treatment for your son. ADHD is a form of anxiety, in my opinion, and I think the way schools are set-up, the classroom environment, with all the sitting still for nearly 7-8 hours and limited physical exercise and movement, that it makes it worse.

      I’m not sure how old your son is, but has the doctor ever mentioned anything like running? I know kids don’t typically run until they are a certain age, or really until they are in high school or older, but there is growing evidence that running and other exercise of a similar nature is one of the most effective treatments for ADHD in kids:

      There is an emerging body of experimental research suggesting selective effects of physical exercise on executive functions in children. Several recent reviews have concluded that both chronic and acute aerobic exercise improves executive abilities, most notably inhibitory control, with more limited effects on non-executive cognitive skills such as attention, perception, and visuomotor coordination.

      I know there are schools in certain districts who are piloting programs in an effort to get extra exercise in for kids with ADHD, which makes more sense than sending the child to the principal or discipling them when ADHD is an actual biological condition. Researches know that now. Maybe not the general public, who think, like many things, it’s caused by sugar or bad parenting or something else, which is just ignorance because they don’t personally experience it or have a child who experiences it.

      So, I wish you the best, in whatever treatments the pediatric physiologist recommends. Being a parent isn’t easy, as much as we love our children; and I know, from what my wife sees at school, that being a parent of a kid with ADHD can be even more difficult at times.

      Take care.

  14. Jeff,
    I applaud you. I have struggled with major depression since I was a teenager. It runs in my family like wildfire. My third child, Romney, is already being treated for anxiety and OCD. Now that it is treated, he sleeps and is a happy eight year old. Treatment is the key. No one should suffer in silence, but our culture does not help. Changing this fact is much needed. I have and will continue to speak openly and honestly with my children (and anyone) about mental illness. It is very common although rarely discussed. Hats off to you! You are not alone!

    • And I applaud you. It sounds like you are tackling this head on, with yourself and your son. I agree that discussion (and treatment) are both hugely important. I’m glad you were able to recognize it in your son early. I wish I had recognized it in my own self years ago, but I didn’t. So I have battled an enemy whose name I did not even know until a few weeks ago. I just thought I had something wrong with me that was un-fixable, if un-fixable is even a word.

      Best of luck with battling depression as well. And I mean that. I battled severe depression after my dad died (I wish I had talked to a counselor and faced it appropriately then. I just took medication, which helped, but I just think medication should always be coupled with counseling) and had moments when I was younger, but mostly what I experience is anxiety. I have friends and family members who have suffered lifelong major depression and I know it’s very difficult for them. Every day, sometimes, can be a struggle. Just getting up. The wanting to sleep. The numbness.

      Thank you for sharing your story. I have received a lot of feedback from people saying thank you and also how much what people have shared in the comments section have meant to them — just seeing there are others out there with similar experiences, how that makes them feel no so alone anymore.

  15. Jeff,

    I applaud you on writing this blog. Far too many suffer from anxiety and do not seek help. I suffer from anxiety associated with PTSD. I wake up at least 3-4 times a week either crying from reliving traumatic experiences while I was in iraq, or waking up screaming with cold sweats, and even a combination of having panic attacks. There is nothing, and I repeat nothing worse than waking up out of your sleep with your heart beating and racing so rapidly that your whole entire chest cavity is shaking. I’m not one to put my business out there but I’m glad I found this blog entry. Having anxiety from something is nothing to be ashamed of, if someone needs help please talk to someone. I have been seeing a therapist ever since I got out of the military. I will admit that I didn’t like crying and talking in front of a stranger but it helps talking to someone. No talking to someone can just make things get even worse. Once again thanks jeff, I just thought I would share my experiences with you just to let you and anyone else that reads this know you are not alone.

    • I wish you nothing but peace of mind Carlos. I can’t even fathom what PTSD from having been in an actual war-zone is like. I really can’t. The closest traumatic experience I can relate is seeing my dad die and hearing the machines beep and watching his body jerk and it was an event that caused me nightmares for quite some time. I could not imagine waking up to re-live the experience you have. With that said, I am very happy to hear you do see a counselor. I think sometimes, while it may not seem very beneficial to see a counselor, having to relive the experience over and over, I think, and this is just me, that bottling it up, particularly over time, just makes it much worse in the long run. It’s like shaking up a bottled soft drink. It’s better to lit the fizz come out a little bit by loosening the top than to keep the top tight and then all of a sudden take the top off and it explode.

      Thanks for sharing what you went through and are still battling with.

  16. Hi jeff! Thanks for sharing. I was first diagnosed with depression a few months after my mom passed away. I ended up taking anti-depressants to help but some made me feel much worse. It took years to finally find the right medicine. Now I don’t consider myself suffering from depression but more anxiety. As Becky said, everyone has stresses but for me small issues seem much bigger and are harder to cope with. While I have not sought out counseling, I still continue my medicine and it works. I, along with my family and friends, also know what triggers the anxiety so they have learned to help me cope and also not trigger the anxiety, lol. Again, thanks for sharing. You are not alone!

    • (First, I apologize that I did not see this earlier and reply. I did not get a notification)

      Thanks for sharing Elizabeth. I am very sorry about your mom. I remember hearing about it. Losing a parent is terrible. I don’t know about you, but I always want to tell my friends whose parents are still alive that they need to cherish it. As you know, they can be taken away from us very quickly. Go to the doctor for some strange ache and find out you have a timeline left to live. Maybe it’s six weeks, maybe six months. Maybe it’s more. Maybe it’s less. But it’s quick and nothing is ever the same once it happens.

      I wish you the best with your anxiety (and depression). If you can, I do recommend a counselor. If you don’t find one you like, try another. Ha. Think of it like counselor dating or something. My first experience with a counselor was not a good one. My second experience was/has been great. It has changed my life for the better.

      Out of curiosity, and don’t feel the need to answer because I know this is all very personal subject matter anyway, but what medicine do you take? I’m not on medication at the moment and, mostly, have been doing okay. I took citalopram for depression after my dad died and that worked wonders. Definitely not a placebo because when I decided to get off I got major brain zaps. Weirdest feeling in the world. If you google “citalopram brain zaps,” you’ll get all kinds of search results. I’ve considered medicine for when my anxiety gets the best of me, but am unsure of what to take. I don’t want to take something every day. Just not sure what’s best for those days.

  17. Jeff, I knew when I taught you at SVCC that you were an amazing person and would impact lives in positive ways in the future. This blog and specifically this post are examples of that. I admire your courage and honesty. As you might know, my husband James (first cousin to your dad) has suffered from debilitating anxiety diagnosed as panic disorder for years. His first full blown panic attack was around age 25 but he remembers “it” back to grade school. There were just too many years of not knowing what “it” really was. If I could sum up any words of wisdom to share with you after living with this my entire 31 years of marriage, it would be 4 things: 1) know that this is real and physical, not just something in your head you should get over or just “deal with” 2) find a good doctor or counselor or someone to help you and give it time…there is no magic pill to fix this overnight but you can and will get better 3) rely on your support system of family and friends and be honest with coworkers you trust because they can provide support to you as well 4) stand on faith. Seek God’s strength and guidance and everlasting love. I wish you the best. Please email me. I would love to share a couple more thoughts.

    • (I apologize for not responding earlier. I did not receive a notification)

      Thank you for your kind words and for reading and sharing your own story about James. I didn’t know he dealt with anxiety, but it sounds very similar, in ways, to what I have experienced, particularly not knowing what ‘it’ was until a certain age. I appreciate your advice and I would agree with every last word. The mind is very powerful and mentally is able to sort of short circuit the physical. It’s like my flight or fight response is extra sensitive with respect to certain minor events. Major events, it’s definitely overly strong.

      I’ll send you a separate email by the way.

  18. hi jeff! I’m so glad you wrote this. 🙂 I feel like more people should share about their anxiety and depression. So many people experience and live with it. I hate that there were many years that I felt very alone and isolated in this, but as soon as I shared about my experience with depression last year, there were so many people who reached out to me (mostly privately) telling me how they were experiencing the same things. I’ve gone through therapy for over a year, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made! Good luck on your journey. I hate using that word, but it is what it is. 🙂

    • Thanks Esther. Sorry for my late response. For whatever reason, I have not been receiving notifications of comments left. I agree with you on therapy. It has made a HUGE impact on my life. Combined with a number of other habit changes including meditation and exercise, I am like a new person.

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