This is crowd-sourced, and yet, 90% of it is true for me.
A few highlights:
15. “The physical part, the rapid heartbeats, the numbness, tunnel vision, being completely fatigued and physically worn out after an episode.”
For me, the tunnel vision is the worst. It’s one more thing to worry about–am I losing my eyesight? Will I pass out here?–and that just makes things worse. I’m constantly somewhat fatigued, and sometimes it seems like every little thing makes my heartbeat fast and irregular, so those are things I’ve learned to live with, but it’s true that after a panic attack or a prolonged bout with my anxiety, I’m almost too tired to move.
18. “Even if I take medication, it doesn’t mean I’m suddenly free of panic attacks and anxiety.”
I’m now on my fourth different medication in the last 18 months, a generic version of Cymbalta. It’s helping more than the generic Celexa I’ve been on for most of that time, but it’s still not perfect. I’ve had more than one panic attack at work. Situations I used to be able to handle on my good days are still daunting. I’m still not driving by myself or, well, driving at all at this point. The medication is just a patch. There is no cure for the things that keep my brain off balance.
22. “Anger can come with the anxiety. I show irritability when my anxiety is high and it makes me seem like an unhappy person. I’m not, I’m just spinning out of control in my own mind.”
I’m not an angry person, I promise. I don’t even think most people would describe me that way, but when my anxiety gets out of hand, my fuse is very short. I do get irritable with people, and I feel terrible about it when it affects the people I love.
27. “There actually is a level of healthy anxiety that helps us to perform well on tests, in athletics, in school plays or similar. The issue is when it starts affecting your everyday life and stops you from doing the things you love or stops you from being successful.”
Back in elementary and middle school, my biggest goal was to be good at playing the clarinet. To achieve this, I practiced for hours and hours and hours. Drove my family nuts, constantly had chapped lips and tired face muscles. When I couldn’t play anymore, I obsessively studied my sheet music. It paid off–by high school, I was pretty good. I got solos in concerts, played in competitions, wrote and arranged music, took up other instruments, and basically tutored other students. But someplace in college, I burned out hard. I quit music school and majored in history instead. I went from playing in every ensemble I could fit into my schedule to playing in community band to not taking part at all. I haven’t touched either of my clarinets in well over a year. The anxiety I felt over failing at being a decent musician has essentially killed my desire to play, and I’m still waiting for it to come back. That might be the worst thing of all.