Jan 11, 2011

A different side of me: Anxiety 411

This is me: I am a 26 year old mother of two beautiful children and I am engaged to a great guy. I love to laugh. I love to smile. I love cuddling with my fiance on the couch. I love tickling my children and hearing them laugh. I love the smell of fresh air. I love the sound of the waves crashing at the beach. I love when the night sky is loaded with beautiful sparkling stars. I love watching the sunset.


What you don't know about me is that I constantly worry. I suffer from a disorder called Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder. It sucks and its debilitating. I was diagnosed with GAD and panic attacks at 19 years old. I had no clue what was going on with me and went to the hospital twice. I cried and cried because this was foreign to me. Finally, I went to a regular doctor and they diagnosed and explained the condition to me.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a pattern of frequent, constant worry and anxiety over many different activities and events. Generalized anxiety disorder has the following symptoms:
* Difficulty concentrating
* Difficulty controlling worry
* Excess anxiety and worry that is out of proportion to the situation most of the time
* Excessive sweating, palpitations, shortness of breath, and stomach/intestinal symptoms
* Fatigue
* Irritability
* Muscle tension -- shakiness, headaches
* Restlessness or feeling keyed up or "on the edge"
* Sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep; or restless, unsatisfying sleep)

Panic attacks or Panic Disorder is defined as an anxiety disorder that causes repeated, unexpected attacks of intense fear. These attacks may last from minutes to hours.
Panic Disorder has the following symptoms:
With panic disorder, at least four of the following symptoms suddenly occur within 10 minutes. Attacks may be followed by at least 1 month of persistent fear of having another attack.
* Chest pain or discomfort
* Dizziness or faintness
* Fear of dying
* Fear of losing control
* Feeling of choking
* Feelings of detachment
* Feelings of unreality
* Nausea or upset stomach
* Numbness or tingling
* Palpitations or pounding heart
* Sensation of shortness of breath
* Sweating, chills, or hot flashes
* Trembling or shaking

I haven't ever been able to write about this disorder, mainly because of embarrassment. I do not drive because I am afraid that I will have a panic attack and be in a car by myself and freak out. I can drive if accompanied by someone else. It sucks because things that people without this disorder do on a regular basis (driving and going shopping for example) are things that a person with this disorder dreads or worries about. I personally worry about having a panic attack most of the time when going out. Granted, if I did, you probably wouldn't be able to tell. But I feel like you can tell.

I wanted to post this because I want people to understand and I want to finally accept my condition without being embarrassed about it. This is not something that I wanted or asked for. It sucks when people say "just get over it" or tell me that I am over-reacting. If I could "just get over it", I would have gotten over it a long time ago...it's just not that easy.

I had gone quite a while without having a panic attack. A few weeks ago, during exams, my anxiety kicked it and I had a few panic attacks. I am currently taking natural supplements to deal with the anxiety and I also have the generic form of Ativan that I can take on an as needed basis. I am going to talk to my doctor about going back on prescription medication. I think for the longest time, I didn't want to admit that I needed a prescription to cope with the disorder. I am finally trying to accept it for what it is, a disorder. I go to counseling and take action to help myself get better, but sometimes medication is needed to prevent future panic attacks.

My problem is that I will take a treatment (medication or therapy) and it will work and then I just stop because I think I am better. Then months later, its back and I basically start at square one all over again. I am finally accepting that I may have to be on medication to cope with the disorder. Many times, anxiety disorders are from a chemical imbalance in the brain caused by to too much or too little serotonin. That is where the medication helps.

Writing about this is very personal to me as I said before I have a difficult time discussing this disorder with friends and family so posting about it on my blog is a big step for me. I would love to hear your opinions, just please be nice!
Kathleen Signature


  1. I think that it is great that you are sharing this, and it must be a great weight lifted off of you!

  2. Hi Kathleen, Your children and you are just beautiful! I have to say my mom to this day doesn't drive in fear of panic attacks she had when we were small. She is fine now but still haunts her as far as driving, elevators, big open spaces ect. Myself when my dad passed away in 1999 I had tried to stay strong and built up a terrible sense of depression and was at the point of crying all the time and had to be home because I would have a panic attack everytime I went out. Even if it was just to my moms house. I had so many I thought I was going crazy and could not control my own self. I had gone to the emergency room a couple times freaking out. they would check everything and give me a pill to calm myself down from panicing. My doctor tried different medicines for me and finally Paxil now the generic paxatine worked wonders for me. I was on 25 mg a day at first and now I am on 12.5 a day for the last 10 yrs. I wanted to go off of it because I have been great for many years now and he said if it is working and not hurting you cuz of the low dosage he wants me to just stay on it so i do. I also took clonaspam something like that. I still take that if I feel myself getting to nervous. It has been a good 9 years since I have had a panic attack and I dont' wish that on anyone. I know exactly what you are going through and I truely wish you the best. ((hugs)))

  3. That sounds just awful, I can't imagine what it must be like to suffer from this. I had never heard of this disorder. Thanks for writing about it and maybe someone will read this and recognize the symptoms and get help. Very courageous of you. You are so pretty and have such a beautiful family, my heart goes out to you! <3

  4. Thank you for sharing. I have a friend who suffers with the same disorder. It was terrible for her, trying to hold a job and care for her children when she feared having an attack at any moment. I would love to say it gets better but instead I'll tell you to keep using your meds as needed and hopefully there will be longer periods without attacks.
    Take care of yourself sweety.

  5. Great Post. I don't know anyone with this, but I am positive there are people out there feeling the same way as you do. Embarrassed by it all. This gives them hope to also come out and talk about it. It takes courage to come out and talk about it without feeling people will judge you or say, just get over it! Take care sweetie!

  6. Wow! *hugs* You are once brave and amazing women. I want you to know the more I have gotten to know you on twitter the more I just love you. Please know you wonderful you are, know that I am here for you no matter what. Thank you for sharing this. *hugs*

  7. Believe me I can relate but in a smaller way.
    I worry and sometimes feel anxious too.
    Thanks for sharing, it opens the door for others to realize they are not alone in their feelings and may prompt them to seek help for their condition too! There is a natural homeopathic product called "Rescue Remedy" from Health Food Store that may help some folks cope with feelings of stress/anxiety too. ☺

  8. I also think it is great that you shared this with us! I believe many women suffer from similar problems to varying degrees. I know I have a lot of stress and I worry too much. I have panic attacks and they are awful. Coping with it has not been easy. I can totally relate to you how awful it is. I don't know why, but our society makes us feel we should never discuss it; that it is a secret. I think it is a mistake to not to discuss it. And I think we would find that more women than not suffer from the same or similar conditions. You are such a sweet person and I am glad that we found each other on twitter :)! I love your pictures and you have a beautiful family! Thanks again, Rochelle

  9. Hi there Sparkley, I have a client/friend that has the same disorder, I don't want to call it illness, I don't like the definition that's attached to the word. Anyway, you will be OK. Positive think has so much power! Baby steps everyday and you move forward with ease. Your obviously doing a great job! Really cute kids and I think your baby is one of the cutiest babies I've ever seen! Take care!

  10. Just ran across your blog thru Angie. I also have GAD, which I take medication for. It's nothing to be embarrassed of; it is a disease just like anything else. Talking about what you go through will really help you in your recovery and show people that there shouldn't be a stigma attached to mental disorders/diseases. I finally got to a point in my life where I've accepted the medication and I've accepted the ups and downs and I take them as they come.
    I actually just wrote a post yesterday about my struggles with PPD and GAD, all related to my mom's bipolar disorder. And you're always free to send me a message with any questions.

  11. Thank you for sharing. I'm sorry that you have to struggle with this condition. I had these same feelings that you listed when my father was dying of cancer a few years ago. I was my mother's caregiver and my father's too when he was not in the hospital. It was extremely stressful and frightening. I felt very alone. I gradually improved, but continued to have ups and downs the past four years since my father's death as I continued to be my mother's caregiver until last year. My mother died Nov. 23rd.
    I also have a good friend who struggles with everything you described. She has gone for counseling and takes prescription medications. I have not taken medications, but I see nothing wrong with it. I came close a couple of times to asking my doctor for something. Mainly I made it by taking one day at a time, sometimes just one hour at a time.
    So Kathleen, I very much understand what you are going through. I have been there and still are sometimes as I grieve my mother's death. And I hear yup about people that don't get it and think you can just get over it. (((hugs)))

  12. PS: Your children are beautiful! I know you must be SO proud of them! And your fiancé is very handsome and looks very nice. :)

  13. Looks like you are not alone, I also do not drive outside of my 'knowing' which is about 5 miles from my house and it does suck big time- before having panic attacks i would drive 2 hours away-just to see what other cities had- you know- different shopping malls and etc. Now i have kids and i cant take them places that i want to- i want them to see the world and alot of the times my husband doesnt want to go, it makes me sad taht i cant take them- ugh..i know how frustrating it is. But you did say- you drive when someone else is in the car- make sure you keep doing that..otherwise you will wake up one day and wont be able to do that either. The one thing i worry about most is- what if my husband has a car problem and i cant go get him- its very upsetting to think about that...i used to go to counseling too- but then we moved and there isnt one close to my house and i hate asking my husband to take me places- i dont want to be a burden on him- guess i could go on and on but you already know...
    thanks for sharing
    tcogbill at live dot com

  14. The very first time l experienced a panic attack was at the Calgary Airport on my way to Frankfurt, Germany. Everything you described happened to me. I thought l was having a heart attack. It was extremely scary and l had no idea what was happening to me. My husband managed to help me control the situation. You just never know when they are going to happen. I personally think is caused by what we ingest. I am a vegan and l try to eat organic and more raw if possible. I do not have the attacks very often now. I chose not to go on any medication because they too are a toxin to the body... this is my personal opinion. Thanks for sharing your story and l hope all will work out great for you.

  15. it's always nice to feel like you are honest with yourself.

  16. Thanks for sharing. This is definitely nothing to be embarassed about. My son is 11 and I believe he has a lot more anxiety and worry than most kids his age so this may be something my family and I have to deal with in the future. My boyfriend worries constantly and I try to be patient and understanding but sometimes I just tell him to quit worrying so much and it's impossible and only makes him sick to his stomach and upset so you are not alone in this!

  17. Thank you for sharing this and it is nothing to be embarrassed about!

  18. I commend you on your courage. I have disscused my anxiety disorder online before, though I don't think I'd feel comfortable doing it as openly as you have. Panic attacks can be very crippling for people who suffer from them regularly. I am currently searching for the right counseler to help me. I'm assuming the people who say "just get over it" have never had this problem. All I can say is hang in there, the correct combination of medication, supplements, relaxation techniques, and counselng can free you from this terrible curse. I hope you find peace and happiness on your journey forward! :o)

    - Matt