Personal Stories - Panic Disorder & Agoraphobia
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.
I experienced my first bout of what I now know was depression when I was 11—uncontrollable crying, not wanting to get out of bed and go to school, and feelings of worthlessness. I was more sensitive than ever about being “left out” and the mercurial slights that characterize preteen girlhood. Nevertheless, I remained the consummate perfectionist. For instance, anything less than an “A” in school would validate my sense of inadequacy.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
I’m 21 years old, and besides my busy schedule as a full-time student the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, keeping a regular running and yoga schedule, work, and trying to balance a social life, I am also the founder and Executive Director of Anxiety In Teens Non-Profit, LLC.Read
I have chosen to focus on my healing, and to say only a few words about my long period of suffering. Chances are, you already know – firsthand or secondhand – more than you'd care to know about the suffering! My own suffering had its unique form, but essentially, it was no different from what you probably already know.
I have lived all my life waiting for the game to be over. Feeling anxious and sick to my stomach before high school games, I’d say to myself, “I just can’t wait until the game is over so I don’t have to feel this way.” I was so fearful that I’d make a mistake, disappoint my coaches and family, and let my teammates down. This feeling has stayed with me ever since. Rather than be honest with myself and others, I pretended everything was okay, but inside I was dying.
Looking back, I recall first experiencing a panic attack in the sixth grade. I remember getting so nervous that I would have to leave class and go to the counselor’s office. Until I was 16, I was in and out of psychiatrists’ offices. It was a challenge to find a psychiatrist that I could connect with. Throughout junior high and high school, I still experienced anxiety and panic attacks. And when I started college, my anxiety and panic attacks intensified.Read
My college life was enriched with family, friends, sorority sisters, successful academic achievement, and a loving boyfriend. But one night, a terrifying new element was suddenly added. Lying in bed, I began to sweat profusely. My heart was racing and I could not stay still. I had an overwhelming foreboding that something terrible was about to happen to me, and I wouldn’t be able to escape. When I called my dad to explain my symptoms, he suggested that I go to the hospital.Read
The summer before my senior year in college, my mother died of lung cancer at the age of 57. I dealt with my loss privately, as I had handled most of my problems throughout adolescence: I repressed my grief and kept moving. I avoided talking about my mother's death and I continued my college work and social schedule as if nothing had happened.Read
My story is much like others’ who suffer with panic disorder. Look at a list of symptoms and you’ll see mine.
My first panic attack occurred when I was 14. Later I would have them while driving on the interstate – so I stopped driving on the interstate. I had them at movie theaters or concerts – so I stopped going to those places. I stopped going to the mall, to the grocery store, or flying. I stopped going anywhere alone with my children because I was afraid of what might happen to them if I fainted or died while we were out. Eventually, I stopped going anywhere alone.Read
An evening spent playing bridge with other couples was always fun for Rita, but one time it became a nightmare. Dealing the cards, first her hands began to tremble, and then her body shook uncontrollably. Terrified, she ran to the bathroom where she fell to the floor crying. She didn’t understand what was happening to her, so she told her husband she was ill and needed to go home.Read
My name is Jacob. I'm 20 years old and this is my story:
It all started on what seemed like a regular day in my sophomore year of college. I went to all my classes and got back to my dorm room at about 5 p.m. When I checked to see if my roommate was in yet, I found him lying on the floor by his bed. He had died of a heart attack at 20 years old.Read
My name is Jordan. I am 11 years old.
About one year ago, I began experiencing a feeling of terror and panic during everyday situations. I was scared of everything, from going out to eat to going to a friend’s house. I told my parents, and we thought it might just be that a lot was going on. So we waited. As months went on, the anxiety and panicking didn’t get any better, and everything started to go downhill. I sort of figured I was going to be like this forever.Read