“Shortly after beginning CBT, I was able to discontinue medication and stop seeing a therapist.”
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.
Fear of Being Alone
Growing up, I knew I was different. I lived with my mother and brother. My parents were divorced. My father had left and he never came back. It wasn’t the easiest of circumstances, especially for a six-year-old.
As I later discovered, the abandonment triggered my anxiety attacks. I feared being alone, unwanted, unpopular, and unloved.
First period, ninth-grade religion class: The teacher asked me to walk in front of the class and set up a presentation. Simple enough, right? I couldn’t do it. I was having an anxiety attack—soaked in sweat, shaking, and nauseous. My symptoms began every morning from the moment I stepped foot inside the school building.
All I wanted to do was run away, but that wasn’t an option. It would blow my cover. When I wasn’t suffering an anxiety attack, I was wondering when the next one would happen or if anyone could tell. The worrying and the panicking left me with barely any strength to get through the day.
Searching for a Solution
Throughout my childhood, I was no stranger to the doctor’s office. My mother tried everything she could in hopes of a breakthrough. I was on multiple medications, some habit-forming, but they only made me feel like a zombie. Years of seeing a therapist and talking about my anxiety and depression did little to address the heart of the problem. There were times I thought suicide may be the only way to make the pain stop.
By age 16, I had shut down socially. Most of my peers were going to parties, playing sports, and dating. But I was a prisoner in my own home. The anxiety became so unbearable, I dropped out of high school. Problem solved? No way. It followed me to work.
Then one Sunday morning, my wake-up call came from a "Parade" magazine article. You know, the one that comes with the newspaper. Freddie Prinze, Jr., was on the cover. The article detailed the pain of losing his father at a young age. He, too, felt unhappy and alone as a child. I felt as