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Anxiety: There's Always Hope

Writer, 16

The first real panic attack that I noticed, and actually knew what was going on, happened this summer. I was driving a friend home, when all of a sudden I noticed that I was becoming short of breath, I was sweating, my vision was sort of blurry, and things seemed to look very strange. I kept getting this weird warm rush going up my body. I kept quiet as I drove my friend home, fearing that if I told her what was wrong it would only make things worse. I dropped her off, and the 20-minute ride home seemed to last for hours. As I drove I wondered whether or not to pull the car over. I feared that every car I drove past would crash into me, or I would swerve into oncoming traffic and get into an accident. My hands tingled and I was hyperventilating. The warmth came and went throughout my body. Finally, I reached my home. I went inside to lie down on the couch. I just broke down crying. I told my Mom what had happened. I realized that I had had a panic attack. But I had nothing to be panicked about! What was going on? That night I searched the Internet reading all about panic attacks.

As I thought about what had happened, I realized that things like that had happened to me before during the past year, just not as intensely. I was never really too stressed out. Occasionally, I'd have my moments, like all people. So what was causing this?

This was something new in my life that I had to deal with. I had spent the past couple of months being a normal 16-year-old. Hanging out with my friends, going to all the high school parties, and having fun. I knew this wasn't just going to go away by itself. It seemed like everything from this point would change.

After the night of my worst attack, I experienced milder ones. I tried to control them through relaxation. They still weren't going away. I was becoming depressed. I stayed home for almost a week (which is not a normal thing for me). I feared that if I went out to a party or drove somewhere, I would have an attack at the wrong moment.

I talked to my mom about seeing someone to help me with this. We set up an appointment with a psychologist. I went to see my doctor and we talked about things. I cried when I got home because I wanted everything to be normal right away!

I've had a second visit to my doctor and we've talked about different things, such as body image and school. I've always felt that I had to maintain some perfect body, and I have a fear of gaining weight. We talked about how this adds extra anxiety to my everyday life. We also talked about school, and how anxious I get about grades and tests. This adds something for me to get stressed about. My anxiety is also hereditary from my dad's side of the family. My doctor helped me realize that it's not my fault and that part of it is physiological.

Getting a doctor has helped me. I can control my attacks more. My doctor also taught me to relax, because most of the time there is always something that I have to do, and it makes me more anxious. Relaxation is what is helping me. I hope I don't have to be put on medication or anything. I'm just trying to do my best. I'm starting school soon, and I know this year will be full of more obstacles because of this, but I just want other people out there to know that there's always hope. This is still going to be hard for me to learn how to handle, because it still affects me, but I'm learning how to deal with it.

Last Modified Date: 2/28/2001
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