Posted by: counselorcarmella | August 16, 2011

My Personal Experience With Anxiety, Part Two

Meanwhile, I was  writing the Youth News column for our church’s newsletter and winning high school writing  contests. I  was singing solos at church and at school events.  Singing in front of people or even giving presentations didn’t  bother me. I  just couldn’t handle mingly social events or noisy places very well. I made good grades and earned college scholarships and chose to move away for school.   Anxiety  came along for the ride, whatever else I was doing, but I  was excited about  my talents, interests, and relationships.


I didn’t have another really bad attack of anxiety until winter break after my third semester of college. Several transitions were happening at once with some important relationships and the possibility of  needing to transfer schools. I went through another several weeks of feeling terrified all the time. I was just so scared.  I could feel that  doom feeling in the pit of my stomach, that  gut sense that something bad was about to happen to me as if I was walking alone on a really dark street at night and thought I could hear footsteps behind me.  Its like in the movies when the music changes and you know the guy with the ax is about to jump out of the closet, except there was no guy.


I wanted to scream for someone to help me but I didn’t know what was wrong. Physically, I knew I was safe; I wasn’t literally afraid of bodily harm.  But emotionally, I felt alone and vulnerable and terrified and like there was no refuge or safe place to get some peace. I wondered if I was going to go crazy.  I took Tylenol PMs every night  around 10:00 pm and would read books on tape until I fell asleep.  I read a lot of back issues of “GuidePosts” magazine I had saved up. That’s all I remember about winter break that year.


It never let up except when I was sleeping. Life seemed like a huge foot and I felt like the little ant about to get smushed flat. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to handle the usual pressures of adulthood or continue on  the path of education and independence that meant so much to me.  What if I was someone who just couldn’t deal with life? That  thought scared me even more.


I prayed a lot, begging God to help me and give me peace, but it seemed like God had disappeared.  I’d never had that feeling before  either.  My faith had been important to me  throughout high school. I’d memorized  Bible verses that  had to do with  not worrying, God’s care and promises of peace, and trusting Him with my fears.  Knowing God loved me and  was there to listen and help  had been so important to me. Now, I felt like I was talking to myself.     


I started seeing a counselor at my college when I went back.  I wasn’t really in any shape emotionally to be going back to school, but I didn’t know what else to do and hoped this thing would ease up once I got busier with classes. I didn’t find her very helpful. She didn’t seem to take me seriously when I talked about how bad things could get in terms of my anxiety level. Maybe that’s because I always seemed so outwardly calm when I talked with her. I cried a lot when I was alone and  felt upset all the time, but  was able to  pull myself together to go to classes and meetings. I kept thinking and saying I didn’t think other people got as distressed as I was getting. I’d tried to tell her I wanted to learn some strategies for dealing with stress and anxiety but she never really helped me do that. She just listened a lot, which was fine.  It’s nice to be listened to, but I didn’t really get anything practical from her about what to do when I felt anxious.


I think I talked with her about possibly getting on some medication at some point, but I didn’t do anything about it. She didn’t seem to  have any particular opinion about that. She taught me one breathing exercise. She didn’t attempt to educate me about anxiety and the treatments that  often help or anything like that. She didn’t seem too concerned so I guess I thought maybe I was overreacting.



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