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An Unlikely Sufferer: A Guest Shares Her Story

Posted Oct 27 2011 12:19pm
One quick reminder to sign up for November's support group call if you haven't already. There are still some spots open.

I am very hesitant to allow guest posts because I get requests almost daily and usually it is for someone trying to sell their product or get exposure. But this story was really interesting to me because of her extreme lack of compassion for anyone suffering with anxiety and how she has made a 180 degree change. So today's post is from a guest author named Mags Yip. Enjoy.

"Before I begin my story, let me just paint a picture for you. Before this, I openly insinuated that Anorexics should be force-fed at gunpoint.  Before this, I claimed that anxiety was just an excuse for people who were too afraid to face life. Before this, I had no sympathy for friends who told me they had just suffered a panic attack.   Before this, it just didn’t make sense to me.  I didn’t have any tolerance for mental illnesses because I was strong and healthy minded, and I simply did not believe that the mind could administer so much control.
It turns out that I was very wrong.  On 4th August 2011, I had a very traumatic experience which left me with temporary psychosis.  The psychosis lasted about 14 days, and during this period, I was afraid of my own car, my own house, my own reflection, and most of all, my own company.

Being alone instilled fear into me; I was afraid that I was dead.  When I reassured myself that I was still breathing, I started to panic that something or someone was going to get me.  And as much as you could start to believe that these were the ramblings of a crazy person, I assure you, I had never suffered from so much as pre-interview nerves in my life.  I was the most unlikely sufferer.  Nothing is impossible when it comes to the power of the mind. 

Coming to Terms with Anxiety and Panic Disorder

The psychosis soon passed, but the truth is that the anxiety and panic never did – and probably never will completely.  The anxiety and panic is now a part of my everyday life and even months after the trauma, there are still unwavering remnants of my most irrational fears.

The phobias are here to stay and it affects pretty much everything that I do, from the way I perform at work to my relationships with friends and family.  On bad days, I would be too scared to get into a toilet cubicle because I feel trapped, I would stay up all night scared of the deadly silence of night and miss work the next day due to tiredness, or I would almost crash my car because of my fear of the dark causing a panic attack. 

People who care about me don’t understand why I’m scared to be on my own, as much as they tell me that they do.  People who don’t know me that well may find me rude or dismissive when I’m having a particularly bad day.  But it’s my closest friends and family members who see the brunt of my problems, my boyfriend in particular.

He’s no angel, but I expect him to know exactly how to act when I have a wave of anxiety or experience the beginnings of a panic attack – it’s just not that simple.  The truth is, he has his own life and his own problems and doesn’t always say or do the right thing to help me.  But we’ve come to terms with my anxiety, and even through the skin of our teeth, we get through the worst arguments. 

Dealing with My Phobias and Fears

I’d be lying if I said that anxiety hadn’t changed my quality of life.  Of course it has.  The simplest things such as driving in the dark or being inside a building on my own require meticulous planning on my part.  Everything needs to be thought out because travelling in a car for 3 hours on the motorway or staying in my house on my own for more than a day still seem impossible at the moment.  But I try my best to manage it, and I believe that it’s something that will improve over time.
I look back on a more independent period in my life where I used to enjoy ‘me days’ watching films and pampering myself with treatments.  I miss the independence and the peace of being in my own company, and even amongst the other fears which have developed through my anxiety such as claustrophobia, thanatophobia, fear of the dark and fear of losing control, it’s the fear of being alone which I most despise.
Managing My Anxiety and Panic Disorder

Everyone’s experience with anxiety and panic is different, so there’s no exact formula on how to deal with it.  But I do recommend reaching out to others and seeking professional help.  I know that not everyone benefits from Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) or psychotherapy, and if you don’t, it’s always helpful to talk to someone you can trust.  I promise.  Talking openly about it to my friends, to panic and anxiety charities, and to other sufferers has changed the way I look at the disorder.
For me, I try to diffuse my nervous energy by focusing on creative things.  Singing when I’m alone helps me feel more alive, I love to travel so I keep a travel blog which takes up most of my time, and I paint to occupy my mind. 

I also believe in taking things one step at a time because throwing yourself into a threatening position doesn’t help you overcome your fears.  There will be days when you feel like you’ve taken a step back but it’s important to accept the swings and roundabouts of anxiety. 

There’s never been any history of mental illness in my family, I’ve always been a very strong and healthy person and people have known me to be fearless and to possess a try-everything-once mentality.  So it really can happen to anyone, and the mind is so much stronger than you could ever believe.   People can tell me to “Snap out of it!” but it’s just not that easy. 

To this day, I still think twice about getting into my car when it’s dark outside, I still leave the TV on when I go to sleep at night because other people’s voices comfort me, I still struggle to close my eyes in the shower, and I still feel a little frightened when I’m not surrounded by friends and laughter.  But I do deal with it.  And there is every reward in being optimistic.

Stay positive and just remember, you’re not crazy.  I know it feels that way sometimes." 

AuthorMags Yip is the author of The Smart Girl’s Budget Travel Guide , and as an anxiety and panic disorder sufferer, she’d like to welcome you to join her on her travels around the world as she battles her biggest fears.  Follow her on Facebook and never be afraid to contact her with your stories of anxiety. 

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