Hi, everyone 🙂
My official diagnosis seems to be Panic Disorder With Agoraphobia– I think the name alone is enough to scare anyone! Roughly translated, it means that I experience panic attacks and fear situations in which panic symptoms might occur to the extent that it affects my daily life and the choices I make. The Agoraphobia bit refers to my fear and avoidance of places with a lot of sensory input– bright colors, lights, sounds, crowds, etc– which tend to be a trigger for my anxiety symptoms.
Anxiety has affected my life at different times, to different extents. I had my first panic attack quite unexpectedly during a family vacation the summer after 8th grade. It was a terrifying experience– I had no idea what a panic attack was, and thought I was dying of heat exhaustion. Luckily, my mother, who went through panic attacks as a young adult, understood what was really going on. My panic attacks continued through my freshman and sophomore years of high school, but through a combination of meditation, breathing exercises, medication, and therapy, I felt that I was “back to normal” by junior and senior years. I graduated, moved to New York, and began training full time as a ballet dancer. Life happened– I went through ankle surgery and physical therapy in 2011, and my dad died in the summer of 2012, but I was able to get through all that without a relapse. Then, in December of 2012, at age 18, my panic attacks suddenly came back, stronger than ever. My mom had to come pick me up from the city and take me home. On a scale of 1-10, I was a solid 11. My panic attacks were off the charts– wave after wave of debilitating symptoms. Thankfully, through some initial medication, therapy, breathing and mindfulness techniques, as well as the support of family and friends, I have embarked on a healing path to recovery, independence, and constructive self-awareness. Progress isn’t linear, and I still have good days and bad, but overall I’m in a much better place, able to function more independently than ever as I work through the life transitions of young adulthood. I am no longer on any medications, and each day I work toward a mindset that will allow me to face, and ultimately conquer, my fears. I hope you will join me on this journey, take what is useful to you from my experiences, and share in the resources which have helped me thus far. Welcome.