My 28 year old daughter suffers from crippling anxiety and panic attacks. As her mother, a therapist and RN, I have traveled this journey with her, held her hand and breathed for her. Today she has developed some healthy coping skills because anxiety never seems to be too far away. Here is her story.
Meet my friend – her name is Anxiety.
Chest starts to tighten.
The breaths become shorter.
The ripple of tension begins at the toes, sweeps over the entire body, stopping in the middle of the throat.
Thoughts start melting together.
The world becomes slightly out of focus.
Open space….must find open space.
People talk….no….stop….I need open space. You can’t….I can’t….not right now.
It’s raining….har….too much water….not enough space.
Room with the vending machines….yes….I can make it. It’s close….
I press my body against the cold steel, away from the door – hidden.
I slowly slide down….begin to count….focus on the number….on the breathin….
Panic attacks are defined by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) as the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes. They are the most common mental illness in America – affecting around 40 million people.
My daughter started getting intense anxiety during my divorce from her father. He created intense distress with frequent raging, property destruction and threats to harm me. She began having nightmares, the panic attacks soon followed.
“I don’t remember the last time I had a panic attack. These days I have a routine – routine helps. I try to get more sleep. I don’t drink much caffeine. I drink hard liquor infrequently and I drink a lot of water. I practice yoga, read books. I try to be aware if I feel anxiety coming on and try to change my environment.”
“I’m not “cured” of anxiety, I’m not cured of panic attacks. However, I am better equipped to handle them. I have taught myself how to take care of myself.
Meet my acquaintance, her name is Anxiety.