My story and continued fight with Anxiety
This forum has helped me a lot for the past couple of years. It's a relief for me knowing that there are others out there struggling with anxiety. Unless you have issues with anxiety itís hard for others (family, spouse, friends, co-workers etc.) to understand what we go through and deal with every day. Here is my story.
I am 29 years old, married with 3 step children. I have worked full time since I was 15 years old. I come from a divorced family with both parents having mental disorders. Earliest I can remember having a panic attack was when I was about 8 years old. I remember I was worrying about my grandma getting sick. I had lost my grandpa to cancer when I was 5. I remember always having a "nervous" tummy. As far back as I can remember I have had stomach issues. I can remember not wanting to go on long trips because I was afraid I would not make it to the bathroom. I remember asking my parents where we were going and how far was it as I was afraid of not being able to use the bahroom. When I was younger I could tell you where the bathroom was in almost every store.
I have never liked change. I start having anxiety and panic attacks when something in my life changes. I love a routine and get very uncomfortable with the unknown. I try to live in a comfort zone.
After my first (what I call anxiety episodes) when I was 8 I didn't have them very much until I was about 13. After turning 13 I started to have more and more anxiety episodes lasting 3-4 days at a time. I would worry constantly and would be nervous. I remember I would count words and letters of words as I heard them. Whether they would be spoken in person or on the radio, movie etc. This seemed to always comfort my ever racing mind.
Flash forward about 6 years and I am out of High School and on my own. The counting of words and letters subsided to just being fidgety. I do find myself still counting on my fingers with my thumbs when I get anxious. Anyways I am 19 and in my first apartment and on my own. I had a live in girlfriend at the time that didn't work so that contributed to a lot of stress and anxiety. When I was 19 I had one of the worst anxiety episodes of my life. I didn't sleep for almost 3 days as my mind had racing intrusive thoughts. I couldn't sleep and I couldn't keep focused at work. i would worry about everything. My health, finances, relationship. The more my mind went into the anxiety frenzy the more weird thoughts I would have. Once I would start to feel better something else would trigger my thoughts and I would start the process all over again. I remember it took about a week to get out the anxiety funk. 3 years later my girlfriend and I broke up and it triggered another anxiety episode. Major events seem to trigger my anxiety episodes. At the advice of my at the time girlfriend now wife I finally went to a doctor at 24. After the evaluation she diagnosed me with GAD and depression. I was prescribed Cymbalta. It took about 3 weeks for the Cymbalta to help but I remember one day at work I all of a sudden got a warm comforting feeling. I wasn't anxious or nervous at all. It was such a liberating feeling that I had not felt in years. I continued on with Cymbalta for about a year. I didn't have any anxiety episodes, my stomach didn't hurt, I woke up in a happy mood. During that time I had developed insomnia. I think this was one of the side effects for me while being on Cymbalta. I would literally lie awake and stare at the ceiling for hours until I would finally drift off to sleep. At the time I was not comfortable with taking sleeping pills so I just toughed it out.
After about 2 years on Cymbalta I had felt that I had enough control on my anxiety and slowly quit taking the medication. After weaning myself off of Cymbalta the insomnia slowly started to go away but the anxiety came back. I didn't have any anxiety episodes until my dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. I went into a deep depression and anxiety episode for almost a month. I didn't sleep, I didn't eat I was a zombie. My anxiety controlled me for almost 2 years.
My father lost his battle with cancer on 11/28/2011. 18 months after he was diagnosed. This was a very hard time for me as my dad was not only my dad but one of my best friends. My wife's work offered 5 sessions with a grief counselor. After my first session we determined my main focus was not really about grief but dealing with my anxiety. I thought I was doing better with the counseling but I wasn't. I wasn't controlling it at all. I struggled with the anxiety controlling my life until August of 2012. I had an ah ha moment and realized I needed to get help. I went to the doctor and was put on 10mg of Lexapro and 10mg of Ambien to help me sleep. I also started seeing a counselor on a regular basis.
I had a horrible time taking Lexapro. The early reactions I had were very bad. My anxiety increased I had trouble focusing and didnít feel any better. I tried taking it for more than 2 weeks and the side effects didnít subside. I ended up taking half a dose every other day which seemed to help. I still struggled with anxiety off and on but with the help of my counselor I started doing better. I had one really good month and my anxiety took over again. Less than a week ago I went back to the doctor and he increased the Lexapro to 20mg daily. This is still way too much for me so I am taking half a dose a day and plan on taking the full dose next week but only taking half a dose when I get up and half a dose when I go to bed. I am still having issues with the initial side effects but I was able to get some sleep last night.
To summarize I have been dealing with anxiety for a very long time now and I am working up the courage to beat this disorder. I want to live life and not worry all the time. I think if I can get the anxiety controlled through medication and counseling I will be able to beat it. Thanks for reading this and know that you are not alone in your fight against anxiety.