Personal Stories

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“I advise anyone dealing with OCD to find a competent therapist who specializes in this illness.”

The Throes of Severe OCD: a Mother’s Perspective

My son Dan was in college, and by the time I arrived at his dorm, he had not eaten in more than a week. He was spending hours at a time sitting in one particular chair, hunched over with his head in his hands, doing absolutely nothing. He could not enter most of the buildings on campus and could only do minimal amounts of work at specific times. To top it all off, he was self-injuring. My son was in the throes of severe OCD.

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“Anxiety and shame seemed to come out of nowhere. She felt as if she were going to jump out of her skin. ”

Living With OCD: One Woman's Story

The anxiety and shame started when Diance was 25. She was sitting in a pew at her church, where she is active in the ministry. It seemed to come out of nowhere. She felt as if she were going to jump out of her skin.

Diance doesn’t know why she felt so anxious. But she knows what she saw when the feeling overwhelmed her: a nearby woman wearing a v-neck sweater.

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“I had a great aha moment: If I could change my thoughts, I could also change my feelings.”

Obsessed With Control

"Books, pencils, pens; books, pencils, pens." This was my mantra at age 8, when I started my battle with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

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“A friend asked me to explain what things I couldn't do. I answered that it would take much less time if I simply listed those things I could do.”

How I Achieved My Cure of Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia

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.

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“On the outside I was a confident person with everything going for me, but I was a nervous wreck who just wanted to get away from it all. ”

Waiting for the Game to Be Over

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.

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“I remember getting so nervous that I would have to leave class and go to the counselor’s office. ”

Now I’m in Control

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.

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“I had an overwhelming foreboding that something terrible was about to happen to me, and I wouldn’t be able to escape. ”

Family History

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.

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“The only difference between Brian and most other children is that while he is at school, he is mute. ”

My Silent Child

My 5-year old boy has a cherub's face with a hint of mischief in his beautiful green eyes. Brian dances to silly music and entertains us with his antics. He tells his brother to leave him alone and he teases his sister while she does her homework. The only difference between Brian and most other children is that while he is at school, he is mute.

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“I felt extremely isolated from my friends and family because I couldn't explain to them what I was feeling. I had no idea what was wrong with me.”

Ricky Williams: A Story of Social Anxiety Disorder

Many people know Ricky Williams as the Heisman Trophy-winning running back who had it all — fame, money, and talent. Selected as the fifth NFL draft pick out of college, he became a celebrity overnight. With a successful career underway, who would believe that this football sensation who played for crowds of 100,000 dreaded the thought of going to the grocery store or meeting a fan on the street?

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“I found it most ironic; I was someone who enjoyed groups and events, and here I was hamstrung with a phobia that made me detest groups, particularly functions involving a meal.”

My Panic and Anxiety: More Than Nerves

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.

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“Each day I tried a new goal. Sometimes it took three or four tries to move forward, but I never went backward.”

Facing My Fears Head On

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.

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“Was I going to spend the next 40 years making clever excuses about why I was unable to participate in living, laughing, and being whole? ”

Determined to Recover

Rita ClarkAfter more than 20 years of not going to a grocery store, restaurant, or public place alone, not driving out of my safe area and not attending school functions for my children, I began my difficult recovery from panic disorder, agoraphobia, and social anxiety disorder.

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“One day Rita read a newspaper article describing the symptoms of panic disorder and agoraphobia. At that moment she discovered she wasn’t crazy or weak.”

My Mother’s Journey

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.

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“I felt a tingling sensation spread throughout my chest. A sudden fear of death seemed to come from nowhere.”

A Traumatic Trigger of Panic

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.

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“It was so embarrassing to have to tell my friends about my problem, but I knew it had to be done.”

A Normal Kid

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.

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“I spent hours in the bathroom scrubbing my hands raw. I felt that if I didn't take part in this routine, my mother would die. I forced myself to eat foods that I absolutely hated. ”

My Childhood OCD

My experience with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) began in the summer I was seven years old. My father was planning a vacation to Florida with his girlfriend, my five-year-old brother, and me. I was so excited about seeing the beach and feeling real sand for the first time.

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“I'm no longer at the mercy of my PTSD, and I would not be here today had I not had the proper diagnosis and treatment. It's never too late to seek help.”

My Story of Survival: Battling PTSD

It is a continuous challenge living with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and I've suffered from it for most of my life. I can look back now and gently laugh at all the people who thought I had the perfect life. I was young, beautiful, and talented, but unbeknownst to them, I was terrorized by an undiagnosed debilitating mental illness.

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“It took a long time for me to accept that panic disorder is something I must live with. It is simply a part of my life.”

Speaking Up for Others

Looking back, I can see that I had symptoms of an anxiety disorder even as a small child. I remember going for weeks at a time waking up, unable to go back to sleep. Then, as if by magic, I would go back to sleeping normally.

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“I spent the next 20 years trying to avoid another panic attack. Unfortunately, avoiding fear also meant reinforcing it. ”

My Anxiety Rescue

Fear is an unseen enemy that can emotionally cripple and turn your life into a nightmare unless you learn, as I did, how to stage your own “anxiety rescue.”

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“Thanks to a very loving and understanding partner, I was able to work through more of the anxiety I felt.”

Redefining My Life

My struggles with emotional and mental problems began at age 12, when I experienced my first nervous breakdown. At age 20 I was diagnosed with major depression. By the time I was 30 that diagnosis had changed to chronic major depression with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Later, ADHD and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) were added to my diagnoses. At age 40, and after three suicide attempts within two years, my therapist began to suspect that I suffered from bipolar disorder.

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