There was a time when basic things—like driving, climbing a flight of stairs, taking a shower, or going through the checkout line at the grocery store—landed me somewhere between mortal unease and full-throttle terror. It all began with a single panic attack that seemed to strike out of the blue. Mistaking it for a heart attack, I called an ambulance, but I quickly learned that there is no ambulance for an alarm of the mind.
My earliest childhood memories are of constant fear. A skinny kid with crooked teeth, somewhat shy and reserved with social anxiety, I was an easy target for bullies, which made my issues even more difficult to handle. I never spoke to anyone about my feelings because I felt they were my fault.
Childhood anxiety, even severe and chronic, doesn’t necessarily stand in the way of success and achievement. But caring parents will do anything to help relieve their children of misery. Scott Stossel, the editor of The Atlantic magazine, tells his story of struggling, coping, and living a very productive life.Read
It started at the onset of puberty, when I was 11 years old. I was at school, watching my older sister load the school bus to be taken away to 6th-grade camp. Suddenly a wave of panic overcame me. I don't recall my physical symptoms other than a racing heart and nausea.Read
An excellent student, a talented singer and musician, a competitive athlete. That’s how I appeared on the outside as a young child, but I felt as though I were trapped in a nightmare that would never end. Years later, and after a lot of hard work, my bad dream is finally over.
As a child, I was gregarious, outgoing, and happy-go-lucky. Then something went horribly askew at about age 12. I did not know why I was unable to focus when I had been the best reader in school. I had been talkative, but I kept to myself, remained silent, and let bullies pick on me. I hadn't the slightest idea what was going on with my body and mind. Eighth-grade was probably my worst year because I was taunted, harassed, and bullied.
“Hi! I'm Jack. And I have an anxiety disorder.”
Merely talking to other people makes me anxious. I often experience "phone fear." I avoid social gatherings (particularly parties), which I find excruciating. Crowded settings, especially without a perceptible escape route, cause me uneasiness, sometimes panic.Read
I had all the typical life stressors of a married working mom. One spring I had a birth control device implanted that apparently threw my hormones and mental well-being out of whack. I switched to part-time work that summer because it allowed for a bit more rest and less stress. But when I returned to work full-time in the fall, I began having odd flashes of fear. And when people around me felt sick, I did, too.Read
I have suffered from social anxiety disorder since I was about 10 years old, or about 34 years. I was a very intelligent child, but when teachers noticed a difference in me, I started trying to be invisible. Social situations, including school, were torture. I bulldozed my way through life, including dabbling in alcohol and substance abuse for relief of my anxiety and depression. I find it very interesting that the disorder is marked by a morbid fear of authority figures. And here I thought I was just being a rebel!Read
I am a middle-aged woman, married with two children. I was diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at age 25. I am grateful to say that I have had tremendous support, terrific professional help, a strong will to recover, and a resolve to do whatever work necessary to overcome all of my trauma. Other miraculous help has been my spiritual beliefs and practices.Read
Ever wonder what depression feels like? Here’s a hint: Take a pillowcase full of rocks and strap it to the top of your head. Now put on a dark pair of sunglasses — indoors. Leave those things on for about a week. Until you begin to see the world through a dark film that never gets lighter, and it takes a very conscious effort to hold your head up. That is what depression feels like on a good day.Read
I am a world champion of trampoline gymnastics, and I have suffered from anxiety for many years. Having anxiety is like having diabetes or asthma: They are all illnesses. But in 20 years as a trampolinist, I have yet to see someone yelled at for having diabetes or asthma.
“I’m back!” That was the phrase I’d said to myself starting in middle school when my malaise lifted and a cycle of joy came around. I seemed to live in a world moving in slow motion. It was only when “I was back” that I returned to normal life speed. This slow-to-normal oscillation went on well into my thirties. But I had no idea I was depressed.
I have learned that anxiety and depression go hand-in-hand, and there is no shame in having either — although it’s tough for many people to get their arms around that concept. When I struggled with both in my last couple years as the Texas Rangers’ baseball play-by-play announcer, the few people in whom I confided expressed genuine shock. “Depressed? About what? You’ve got a great job! Legions of adoring fans! A wonderful family!Read
Back in 2006, I had it all: A loving fiancé, a coveted publishing job, a supportive network of friends and family. I was living in Washington, D.C., where I went out almost every night to press parties and trendy restaurants. In my spare time, I delivered meals on wheels and counseled Alzheimer’s patients at the local senior center. Perfectionistic and ever so vigilant, I could’ve won the Perfect Life Olympics.Read