For some unknown reason, I was suddenly afflicted one day, yes, out of the blue, with panic/anxiety disorder, agoraphobia and post traumatic stress syndrome. My life had come to an abrupt halt!
I immediately sought medical attention, and was first sent to a clinic that specializes in these disorders, where my illnesses were diagnosed. Needless to say, I was forced into taking an early medical retirement from my job, as I was no longer capable of functioning in the "outside" world. For the first three months of my illness, I was confined to my room, unable to even go downstairs and be with my family. Fear had gripped my entire being. After receiving the diagnoses, I was sent to a psychiatrist who immediately put me on medications and also advised me to seek counseling, as well as visiting a psychologist.
It's extremely difficult to explain just how overwhelming FEAR can be. It totally engulfs your body and your mind.
Woman Who Lived
Once upon a time there was a Woman who lived with Fear. She hadn't planned to live with him, you understand. It just happened that Fear had moved into her house when she was a very little girl, and had lived there ever since.
She got used to having him around,
even though he was horrible to behold. He was very
big and very strong, and had long fangs with a poison in them that made her heart stop and her muscles grow weak every time he bit her.
But, as long as she didn't do anything that Fear didn't want her to do, he didn't bite her very often.
One day, the woman decided that she wanted to do something new, all by herself...even though she didn't know if she could do it. Fear was adamantly against the idea, and warned her that if she tried, he would bite her harder than he had ever bitten her before. But the woman's mind was made up, and she said she was going to try anyway.
So, Fear bit her, just as he'd said he would. She felt her heart stop, and her muscles grow weak, but she kept struggling to try the new thing.
So Fear grabbed her and threw her to the ground and sat on her chest. She struggled against his weight, but he was too strong and big for her. She struggled all day, and when night came she gave up and fell into an exhausted sleep.
The next day, she started once again to try a new thing, and like the day before, Fear grabbed her... but before he could throw her down, she tripped him and *he* fell on the ground. Enraged, he leapt up and they started to fight in earnest.
They fought and fought, Fear trying to bite her, and she trying to pin him down so he couldn't bite. But, Fear was a wily fighter, and of course, eventually, he managed to bite her. So, once again, her heart stopped and her muscles grew weak and she stopped fighting, and fell into an exhausted sleep.
The battle started all over the next day, and the next, and the next. It went on for many, many days. Each day she lost the fight, but each day her muscles grew stronger and she learned more and more about Fear's wiles and tricks and weak points.
She learned ,too, the ways of
Fear's poison, and began to notice that every time Fear bit
her, her body would send a surge of strength to help her fight it -- her heart would beat even stronger and faster, her muscles would feel even more powerful.
Eventually, even when Fear bit her again and again, she did not fall down, and could keep fighting him.
One fine day, when the sky was very blue and the air was very crisp, and they had fought nearly all day, the Woman finally pinned Fear to the ground and put her foot on his back. She leaned over and said very softly, but very firmly, "I have beaten you. Now go away." And Fear vanished!
She was so startled that she lost her balance and fell over. But she got right up again, and spent the rest of the day doing new things and humming a song and just generally enjoying an evening without Fear in her house.
As she went to sleep she thought of all the things she would do tomorrow, without having to spend any of her time to fight Fear. She was so excited, she could hardly sleep!
When she woke her first thought was that she had beaten Fear yesterday, and she smiled and got out of bed. But, there, sitting in the corner of her house, was Fear, as big and strong and ugly as ever. "What are you doing here?" she shouted. "I beat you!"
"Ah, but that was yesterday," Fear replied with a grin. "If you want me to go away today, you have to beat me today." And with that, he stood up and reached for her, and they began to fight again. But as she fought, it seemed to the Woman that Fear was a little smaller today than he had been yesterday. Yes, she was sure of it. Yesterday he had towered over her, today he was only as tall as she was.
After only half a day of fighting, the Woman again pinned Fear to the ground, and said, "I have beaten you. Now go away." And again, Fear vanished. But the Woman was prepared for it this time, and didn't even stumble as Fear disappeared. And she spent the rest of the day doing new things, and fell into a contented sleep that night.
The next day, Fear sitting in his corner chair, simply grinned at her when she walked by. When he stood up to fight her, she noticed that Fear only came to her chin, and she grinned back. She beat him before the sun was halfway up the sky, and enjoyed the rest of the day.
The next day, Fear only came up to her waist. She picked up a basket and said, "I'm going to pick berries on the hill, whether you like it or not." When he came for her, she simply pushed him out of her way, and went out to the hill to pick berries. But a very large, very hungry bear had planned on having lunch at that very berry patch on that very day and became very angry when he saw the woman there, stealing his lunch. He growled and began to chase her. The woman ran, but she knew she couldn't outrun the bear, and she was sure she would die.
It was a lucky thing that the
Woman hadn't really beaten Fear that day, and she hadn't told him to go away, which is the most important part, when you fight Fear. So Fear came up behind her and bit her. Her body released its Fear-poison fighting medicine, her heart beat faster and her muscles grew stronger.
Then Fear grabbed her hand, and pulled her along faster than she had ever run before -- and she even managed to hold on to the basket of berries. The bear chased her a while, then decided that it was too much trouble, and he was still so very hungry, and there were plenty of berries left. So he went back to the hill to have lunch.
When the Woman and Fear got back to her house, she turned to Fear to thank him for his help. But Fear was very angry with her, and would not listen to her thanks. (In truth, he really did not want to see the Woman hurt, even though he fought her every day.) "What were you thinking! If you had listened to me, you wouldn't have been up on the hill with that bear."
"But I wouldn't have these nice ripe berries either." she retorted. Angry at her response, Fear began to fight with her again. The woman was very tired from all the running, so let him win and then made a pie. She went to sleep that night with a contented smile on her face, and a belly full of berry pie.
The next day, Fear came all the way up to her chin again. When the woman asked him why, he shrugged and said, "When you let me win, I gained strength and grew larger again." So, once again they fought, and the sun was high in the sky before she defeated Fear and told him to go away. The woman decided that she would fight Fear every day until he shrank to nothing and was gone forever.
But, then she remembered how he had helped her with the bear. So, she found a tough, old hide and made a small pouch the size of her hand. She threaded it with a leather thong, and tied it around her waist. When Fear was small enough to fit in the pouch, she would stop fighting him, she decided. Or, to be precise, she would only fight him just enough to keep him small.
Then she would carry Fear in the pouch by her side, so that he would always be with her when she needed him. For, as I told you at the very beginning of this tale, the Woman had become accustomed to living with Fear.
So here I am, three-plus years later.
With the help of my doctors, extremely good counseling, and medications, I would not be as well as I am today.
Today, I am able to do as I did in the past. I CAN leave my home, I CAN interact with family and friends. As for returning to work? Well, I've been kind of busy working here at home. I am now capable of picking up two of my grandchildren from school, and babysitting them every day. Panic attacks? Anxiety attacks? They're now a thing of the past. And as for the medications? Nope! I don't take THOSE anymore either.
I AM WELL!!!!
I know without a doubt, had it not been for all the love and support I received from my RT family and friends, and from my CT family, friends, and ...... (*L*), I would not be at this stage of wellness.
If you have or if you know anyone who may suffer from any of these mental maladies, do NOT give up!!!! There IS hope!!!!
There are so many web-sites listed for these disorders. You'll find just a few links below.
Panic/anxiety disorder defined
American Psychological Ass'n
You think you have panic/anxiety disorder.....now what?
links for panic/anxiety disorder