I remember the night like it was just yesterday. I was working a night shift at a retail job where the environment was fast-paced, so you can imagine how overwhelming it must have been experiencing anxiety and all. That day I was already having symptoms of anxiety (e.g. sweaty palms, shortness of breath, irritability, dizziness) I even felt that I was experiencing “depersonalization,” where everything felt surreal, almost like a dream, that would eventually turn into a nightmare for me.

I remember asking one of my supervisors if I could leave early, but it was out of the question since I was the only one on the sales floor. I felt like I wanted to escape because I thought that I was going insane. I could not tell my supervisor what was going on because I didn’t think she would understand. Of course no one knew what was going on inside. Customers would even look at me wondering what was wrong with me, I just couldn’t find a way to tell people what I was going through. I didn’t even know what I was going through myself.

When I got off of work I got into my car wondering what coworkers were thinking about me, then I broke down feeling alone and scared. What I felt in that moment was hopelessness and actual physical pain. I somehow knew that I had been depressed for a while. It’s like all of my emotions were bottled up for so long that I exploded to the point of no return. I couldn’t stop crying. I hardly ever had a history of self-harm, but everything became so overwhelming that I started having thoughts of hurting myself because I hated myself at the time. I felt guilt and shame of being alive because I didn’t feel support from anyone. This was a huge breaking point for me, so I did what I thought was best which was take myself to the nearest ER to have myself evaluated. I was seen by various doctors and one therapist who were giving me words of encouragement to help me get by. I felt calmer when my mom came to see me and all I could see was pain in her face for seeing me in the condition that I was. I thought that by the end of the of the night I would get to go home. Unfortunately, I was taken to another hospital where they specialize with mental patients. I spent nearly three days there.

After going through the evaluations and feeling homesick, I left the hospital feeling hopeful and optimistic but things did not end there. After months of struggling with my anxiety disorder along with other episodes of intrusive thoughts, it has been a long battle for me. Thankfully, the intrusive thoughts have stopped. However, anxiety is not like catching the cold where you take medicine and it goes away. It is a disorder in the brain. A disorder that takes months even years to recover from. People on the outside who don’t have these disorders are not aware of them because they are not visible like scars. I feel that most of us would rather have scars than a debilitating disorder that doesn’t let us live normal lives. I feel that everything happens for a reason and that reason is that I was meant to find this wonderful website and tell my story to others who are going through the same thing.

6 responses to “Stephanie”

  1. Sue says:

    Thank you so much for articulating your thoughts and feelings in a way many people will benefit from you sharing your personal story. You truly are a bright light that is shining on a topic that needs to be shared!

  2. Judy H. says:

    Thank you for sharing this. Anyone who has experienced or is still living with anxiety disorders or depression can appreciate the pure, raw emotion coming from your words.

  3. sheila l says:

    Like stephanine I lived through painful after painful years with depression and a panic disorder. My family not knowing what to do. It all started when I was 20. That is 29 years ago when no one understood anything about anxiety or depression. I felt like a guinea pig at the psychiatrist …pill after pill that did not work. In college I always had to sit in the first seat by the door or I would cut class. I managed to graduate…..but spent 34 days in a psych hospital because I self medicated with alcohol once they took me off Xanax. I was released but the depression stayed. I understood what my brain was doing but the rest of the world didn’t. I missed out on a lot of show openings etc because of panic attacks. My world was very small. I tried suicide and failed. Another hospital…..that was my life. Now that I am in my late 40’s the anxiety has lifted some…except when I am driving or in a car. The surreal feeling hits me and I have to pull over. I cannot drive on highways and to be a passenger is even hard. My boyfriend is very, very understanding . ECT helped a little with the depression. I do not work because of my depression and anxiety. I am what I am. A good person, UNABLE TO WORK BECAUSE OF A DEBILITATING DISEASE I CANNOT CONTROL. With age, also, I don’t really care as much what other people think. I am glad there is a spotlight on mental illness these days. Now some people will not have to feel like a freak and hide because of a diagnosed condition. When I was first diagnosed in 1985 no one spoke about mental illness and my hospitalization was a guarded secret. Not today though. So to everyone out there suffering you are not alone. Go get help and help yourself to what can be a wonderful life for a lot of you

  4. Carol A. C says:

    Hi Stephanie,
    I’m so glad you decided to write your story and share it with us on this website that offers a chance for people to feel supported and not ‘so alone’ in the struggle with mental health disorders. We all have some form of it and it is not anything to be ashamed of. No one is ashamed of having diabetes or hypertension, so no one should be afraid or ashamed to mention anxiety or depression (what I have struggled with for years). Thank you for being brave enough at your young age to tell others about your experience. The best thing you did was go to the emergency room for help. I hope and pray that others who find themselves in a similar position will do the same. Emergency medical treatment as well as continued medical treatment in the form of medication and counseling/therapy is life-saving. Best wishes to you, Stephanie and God bless you. Carol

  5. Stephanie G says:

    Thanks guys for you’re input and encouragement. It is things like this that make me feel hopeful for the future. I sometimes pray that it will go away but anxiety doesn’t work that way so the least you can do is never lose hope and imagine that one day you will be anxiety-free. You just have to imagine yourself in that state you were before your were diagnosed with anxiety to remind yourself that your disorder does not define who you are, and that you’re not “crazy” or irrational. It is just a disorder that people who don’t have it will never know… I know taking antidepressants can be hard. I was always against them but I didn’t really have a choice because i was in a very bad state at the time. I try to eat healthy and exercise which helps a lot. Basically, i do what I can to stay active. I heard that the worst thing to do is lay around the house because it only makes you’re anxiety and depression worse. A hint would be to pace yourself and take baby steps.
    Good luck and best wishes to you guys!

  6. Teri M. says:

    Hi Stephanie,
    Thank you for sharing because I too suffer from anxiety and severe panic attacks. i lost my job of 12 yrs because of it.
    My husband and my 25 yr old son do not understand it. They say that I should be able to control it,but you and I both know that it will take a miracle to contain this Beast. I have grown much closer to God during this time in my life. I am 51 yrs. old, former successful insurance professional. Now I am a much happier unemployed empty nester dealing with anxiety and mild depression,but learning to appreciate life and all it has to offer.

    Be Blessed,

    Teri M.

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