By: Michelle Newman
Anxiety and Panic attacks are known, but unfortunately not taken seriously. If you mention you are having a attack people will look at you as if you were talking a foreign language of some sort. A very easy and known response is “Snap out of it” or “it’s in your head”. Unfortunately these responses come up because there is not enough awareness out there regarding the issue. These disorders are known, but people are not educated enough to know that these are real and scary physical feelings that can take over someone’s life. You don’t know until you walk in someone’s shoes!
In 2001, I personally started having Anxiety and Panic attacks. First, I had no idea as to what was going on. I remember my first attack as if it was yesterday. I was on my way downtown with a friend to a club. She was driving on the DVP and all of a sudden, I started getting physical symptoms like hot flashes, shakes, heart palpitations, nausea and my body went numb. It literally felt like I was having a “out of body experience”. You must be wondering what that feels like. My body was sitting in the car, but it felt like my mind was on a different planet in a very weird and awkward way. I was very jittery and could not sit still.
I remember we finally got to the parking lot and I felt like complete crap. Thought it might be a bit of motion sickness but it never subsided. We got to the club and it was totally packed and with the combination of the lighting, loud music and no room to walk, these feelings got even worse. The room was spinning and I was freaking out inside. My friend disappeared, no where to be found and all I wanted to do was leave. When someone is in that state of mind, thinking clearly is not possible. I left her there.
The drive home was so scary. I had the window’s wide opened and it was a cold winter night. I was crying on the phone with my mom, and if I wasn’t, the music was blaring. It had to be the longest drive from King St and Bathurst all the way to Thornhill.
The unknown feelings continued on after that. Figured I might have the flu. Months went on and there was no changes. I was so afraid to the point I did not want to leave my house.
Fast forward a year later. I was still experiencing these “unknown feelings as the doctors had no idea as to what was happening. Can you imagine feeling like you’re loosing it,and not one single person had a clue what was going on…..TOTALLY NUTS! I saw many different doctor’s including therapists and social workers.
One day, FINALLY, someone got an idea that all along I was having these attacks. WHOOHOO…NOT!
Running around and seeing different people literally did nothing for me. I was seeing one particular physiologist. I remember one day I felt like I hit rock bottom. I was desperate to talk to someone. I was ready. I called the office and no answer. I jumped into my car and drove over. Upon arrival I told the receptionist that I needed to see the doctor right away. Her response was, “I’m sorry, we can’t see you. Why don’t you go to the ER and be seen by the doctor’s there”. I understand she was doing her job but the last thing I wanted was to be waiting for hours, and being bumped up as more “serious” cases were coming in. I left there CRUSHED. I felt ALONE. I felt MISUNDERSTOOD ….I cried for hours.
Fast forward to 2015
I finally got to the point with my issues where I could say I was STABLE! I felt like it was my time to give back. I felt that if I can help people avoid feeling as heartbroken as I did that day, then my dream has come true! I started a Facebook group called ” Anxiety & Panic Disorder support” where people can turn to so they don’t feel “ALONE AND MISUNDERSTOOD”. Also to get the support that they deserve. Currently we are a group of close to 1600 people worldwide. I must make it clear I am not a professional therapist. What I am is a individual that’s been there, done that.
The key to me being where I am today is very simple… I WANTED TO LIVE!! If there is a will, there is a way!
My new goal is to get more awareness out there. If you suffer or know someone that does, there is no need to do it alone. The link to my group is https://www.facebook.com/groups/1492821690999771/
Don’t stop believing, because there is a light at the end of the tunnel.