My name is Ryan "China" McCarney and I have lived with anxiety since 2009. I was 22 years old. My first panic attack occurred that year when I was with my then girlfriend and we were on our way to a family gathering about three hours from my house. About 45 minutes into the drive I felt as if I was going to die. I could not breathe and had to pull the car off the road and walk for hours to try and catch my breath in the fresh air. That was my introduction to anxiety and I had no idea that I was about to embark on a back and forth journey for years to come.
It has been 7 years since that first attack. My anxiety hid in the shadows while I pursued professional baseball from 2010-2012. The routine of athletics kept my mind occupied and anxiety did not control me. However, as I stepped into the "real world" after retiring from the game in 2012, anxiety latched on to me and began to control my life.
Embarrassment, shock, anger and many other emotions rushed through me as I started to face new symptoms I had never felt before. Nauseousness, dizziness, shortness of breath, numbness, you name it, I felt and dealt with it all. I began to build a bubble of safety where I felt comfortable and would not leave that comfort zone. My relationships suffered, opportunities passed by and I let anxiety win. But only for a period of time.
I can not say exactly what it was but at the beginning of 2015 I was sitting in my car and I decided to attack my anxiety issues and get help. I thought I was alone in my struggles and that no one else could possibly be dealing with what I was dealing with. Reaching out for help turned out to be the best decision I have ever made.
I began to see a counselor who explained to me that I was suffering from a combination of Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder. This is where ADAA came into my life. Simple information about the disorders I was dealing with gave me clarity and immediately helped with some of the extreme symptoms. ADAA and my Counselor also showed me tools like focusing on the breath, meditation, positive self-talk and other actionable steps that began to help immediately as well.
The real point of me sharing this story is not to bring focus to me or my story exclusively. It is to show how one simple step of reaching out for help changed my life tremendously and changed my life quickly. None of us are alone in this battle. My anxiety issues are still extremely relevant and I deal with the battle on a daily basis. But the battle now is one that I embrace. I am proud of the battle. We all have different characteristics and one of mine just happens to be an anxiety disorder….or two or three.
I graduated college. I earned a graduate certification in Sport and Fitness Psychology. I am the Vice President of a very successful company in Southern California. I have and deal with anxiety. Anxiety is not a negative that we need to resist and be ashamed of. Anxiety is just an attribute that some of us have and some of us don't. If you do, embrace all of it, reach out for help and educate yourself on tools and concepts to improve your quality of life and coping skills.
This is my story. It is a simple one but I hope it helps anyone out there who is being timid about their anxiety. So many people are dealing with some form of anxiety issues and they are hiding it. Embrace it. Own it. Change your life.