When I was growing up, my sister would talk about things that would enrage her and then half jokingly say about me, “He just doesn’t care. He couldn’t care less”. That was my rap.
Fact of the matter is, I wished that was true. I did care..too much.
I was a worrier growing up..grades, friends, social situations, etc. I did well across the board, so I guess I did a good job of hiding it. At the time, that was something I thought I was supposed to do. Keep the armor on & keep barreling forward. Fortunately, unbeknownst to family & friends, I sought the help I needed after my first, full-on panic attack.
This is 1 trait I’d rather not share with my kids, so I recently spoke with a good friend of mine to get some more info on the subject.
Barbara was on a crowded NYC subway 20 years ago and began to feel dizzy. She was a fun, free spirited girl, in her early thirties but she began to imagine herself fainting somewhere along her routine commute. For no logical reason she spiraled downward into the darkest, most unnerving place that she ever found herself in. She wondered what would happen to her. Who would find her? Would someone assist or take advantage of her situation? Her heart was beating at least twice its normal rate.
Drenched in sweat, she wondered, “Aren’t I too young for a heart attack?!”
The next day Barbara felt better taking a less crowded train 15 minutes earlier. With the feeling creeping back again the next day, she caught an even earlier train. The pattern grew over the years to the point where she was leaving 2 hours earlier than necessary to sweep her panic under the rug. Even though Barbara successfully graduated college, was happily married & had kids, there was an odd sense of impending doom that seemed to follow her. Mundane tasks such as standing in the checkout line at the supermarket or driving alone began to cause her anxiety.
After many agonizing years & thousands of dollars wasted on misdiagnoses, Barbara finally found an informed cognitive behavioral therapist. A recovered phobic himself, the psychiatrist eventually taught Barbara how to meet these bouts with panic head so that she could move on with her life. This was the start of her road to recovery.
Years later, having learned a great deal from her experience, she decided to help others that share such experiences. Today she is one of a few hands on therapists that go out “into the field” with her clients to control their emotional disorders. I spoke with Barbara about this crippling illness which silently affects so many people.