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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 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.

That excitement was short-lived. Once there, my father and his girlfriend began to argue, throwing plates and…

"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."

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.

Having been properly diagnosed with PTSD at…

"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."

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.

I remember being scared to death that I would die in my sleep. I feared death, what was beyond death—I was scared stiff. When I was 14 years old, I experienced my…

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

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.”

I suffered from anxiety, panic, and fear for most of my adult life. It started in college when during marathon studying, I suffered a panic attack. I had been smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee, and stressing over final exams. I…

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

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…