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Reflections of a Lost Romeo

Anxiety and fear are nothing to be ashamed of.

19 million people in the United States suffer from Anxiety disorders. At least, that is what the number of known sufferers is. There are alot more who suffer it quietly and dont seek treatment, mostly because they are afraid to admit that they have a problem. Anxiety is perceived by many as weakness, as a personal fault that makes them into lesser people, they are afraid of the judgements society casts. Denial does no good. It helps the anxiety to get a better grip on its victims. There are sufferers who deal with it not having any idea just what it is, what causes or that theres even a name for it.
Anxiety takes a strong person and rips everything away. It takes a strong person and turns them into a ball of nerves. It makes its victim feel like reality is leaving them- not that they are leaving reality, mind you but that it is being torn away from them. It is like losing control of yourself and your life. I used to wake up in the night gripped by an indefinable terror. I was afraid that Id never come back out of it. I was afraid also of what people were going to think of me once they knew I had anxiety attacks. I should have concentrated more on dealing with the attacks but worry is a big part of anxiety- it fuels it.
There is nothing wrong with feeling that way, most people feel it at one time or another. I dont know how they handle it but in the past, I used to just ignore it and it wouldnt get to me. When it became so severe, I could not handle it because I was too weak and ashamed to ask for help. Hands were reached out to me but I didnt see that, I only saw how it might look to them if I admitted having a problem. My attacks were never bad enough that I ended up in emergency rooms but they got close. I would lose control and feel like sobbing yet, I had no idea why and afterward, when Id get to a safe place (usually home or in the presence of my lady), Id be drained and sleep for several hours. I felt as if I was going to pass out when theyd hit. I would get dizzy and cold but at the same time feel as if I was burning up. I was scared to death of passing out because I never have. I had never felt so alone in my entire life until anxiety struck me. I felt misunderstood yet I couldnt talk about it. I felt unloved even though I knew my lady, and family were right there for me. I just could not make myself see beyond the fear that gripped me.
When it first hit me, I was sure that there was physically wrong. I started getting dizzy while I had a cold which caused me to worry and that turned to panic when it hit me while I was driving. After suffering and blaming the cold, basically just being in denial, I told my lady that I would finally go to the doctor. My lady had been very worried and I think knew all along what I was dealing with but she stood by me and took me to the doctor where I was diagnosed and treated for vertigo, yet the dizziness continued. I took a series of tests- everything from blood pressure to thyroid tests and of course, nothing showed up. My lady kept asking me what exactly was I feeling and I was ashamed to admit that it was panic. Finally, it got to the point where I was so panicked all the time, I told her exactly what it felt like. After much encouragement and assuring from my lady, I talked openly to my doctor and was given medication. My doctor was very understanding and I took courage from her nonjudgmental attitude.
The thing to remember, if you are suffering from anxiety is to not be afraid to talk about it. Tell your partner, your family, and your doctor, anyone that can help you, and get treatment. Do whatever it takes to avoid falling so far that you lose everything as I did. I didnt have the strength to deal with the anxiety by myself yet it took forever before I forced myself to come out and admit that I have it. My pride stood in the way of my health and of course, that made matters worse. Not only was I afraid to admit it openly, I couldnt bring myself to admit to myself that I too have weaknesses.
If you are dealing with a person that suffers from anxiety, be strong for them- assure them that you are there and understand and then do just that. Assure him or her that they will not be judged by anyone and if they are, its still nothing to be worried about because some people just cant understand. Be prepared for many sleepless nights and take them as they come. When anxiety hits me, I want to be held and assured that its all right. I think part of anxiety comes from insecurities and that is why I needed assuring. For so many years I had been independent but harbored worries and eventually, they caught up with me. Be consistent when dealing with and supporting a victim of anxiety attacks. I say victim because that is exactly what sufferers become. The anxiety/panic attacks are not their fault, they can, with help learn to deal with them, but no one gets them by choice. Consistency is necessary because the anxiety causes a persons reality to become distorted and if the support isnt always there, it only makes things worse and can become a trigger for the attacks.
Distractions are great during anxiety attacks. It may sound impossible but when an attack is coming on, try self-talk. Assure yourself that whatever it is youre worried about is going to be all right. Know that you are loved, even if only by the stranger sitting right now at this keyboard. You are not alone, the warrior is within you. Its perfectly all right to buckle and call a friend or loved one but by all means, do try to make yourself strong enough to cope on your own because dependency is easy to fall into and can damage even the strongest of relationships, I speak from experience. It is important to regain faith in yourself because that will slowly but surely give you the strength to cope. You may feel as if you are standing on the edge of the world and that there is no coming back but it is merely a misconception that the anxiety has brought into your life. In reality, the anxiety can be treated as a gift in that it humbles a person, reminds them that they truly are not alone, nor are they the first to ever feel this way.
Hold good thoughts near at all times and if anxiety strikes, try to replace the fear with them. Another impossibility? No, with practice, it becomes quite possible and very helpful. Victims of anxiety can have good times just as everyone else does, so when youre feeling up, create a safe place inside yourself, a comfort zone that you can go to whenever you feel the slightest pang of anxiousness. Work on that place as often as you can, be it an imaginary place or taken from a better time in your life but make it strong enough to overcome the feelings of anxiety. It wont work for awhile but just as the possibilities of the mind are endless, so is our capacity to train our emotions. Dont give up on it, dont give up on yourself because overcoming anxiety is not impossible, you may still have attacks that are uncontrollable but you will know that you tried and the effort alone is a strengthening of your soul.
The best way to overcome anxiety is to simply face it, dont hide it, and dont keep it inside. Face your fears and you will overcome them. This takes time but is highly possible. Once you have faced your fear, it becomes a strong point because it no longer intimidates you. Expect anxiety attacks, allow them, and accept that you will always have fear but do not allow that fear to take over your entire being. Compare reality to fear, focus on the reality. Remember the quote, Heroes behave in spite of fear, cowards act because of it. You are a hero because you can feel. I carry a quote my lady wrote down for me when I was facing one of the many fears I developed, Courage is the ability to feel fear and carry on with dignity in spite of it. It helped me to overcome one of the biggest things I had ever been afraid of and still helps me to this day.
The actual anxiety attack will last anywhere from 20 seconds to a several minutes, but the thoughts and feelings afterward make it seem to last forever. Anxiety attacks usually leave a person feeling sad. That sadness is really disappointment in having had an attack (or another attack). Leave it behind, move forward- do not by any means dwell on it! Look at it as a rainbow, on this side is anxiety at its worst but on the other side is peace and tranquility. Ride the rainbow, so to speak and allow yourself to accept that you had the attack, then put it behind you. Anxiety cant hold you if you dont let it.
Breathing plays a big part in anxiety attacks. Its similar to claustrophobia in that at times, you may feel that there is not enough air. Remember to breathe as normal as possible. If you breathe too hard or fast, you will hyperventilate and that can bring on another whole set of fears. Hyperventilation is denying he body of carbon dioxide- the air released when we breathe out. Take deep breaths but hold them and you will feel calmer. You are not running out of air no matter how loud your lungs seem to be screaming.
Be proud of your achievements such as getting through the attack, facing the fear, and moving forward. Always move forward and do not allow associations to form. These associations can keep a person from doing even the simplest of tasks. For example, if you had an anxiety attack while in a restaurant, dont avoid going there, go back and face it. An anxiety attack at work is no reason to quit a job if you enjoy it so why should you deny yourself a good meal by avoiding that certain restaurant? Its alright to take it slowly and build yourself up to going in there again- maybe order carry-out and pick it up until youre comfortable with the place again before you try to sit down to dinner there but DO NOT give fear the power to keep you away from things you once enjoyed. That applies to everything, not just restaurants, its just that several people have anxiety attacks in public places such as restaurants and then take painful measurements to avoid those places rather than going back and gaining realization that the place had nothing to do with what they felt. If you allow anxiety the power to keep you out of places, you could eventually become a prisoner in your own home, life is too short to live in only four walls so make yourself at all costs, go out and experience as much as possible. Not only will you have a good time but you will be stronger for it and the anxiety will become less a part of you. Dont give up on life or yourself. I believe strongly in destiny, purpose, and fate, therefore to deny yourself the privilege of really living, is also to deny countless others. We are all special and have a purpose here, do your best to fulfill that purpose, meet your fate, and live your destiny.

Anxiety is not easily overcome. I still feel the twinges occassionally but I have made myself stronger than they are. I know I'll never get over it completely but I have accepted that fact and am determined not to let it take my life from me ever again. Should I have a set back, I will not let it take away any of the progress I have made, I will simply let it happen, let it go, and go on!