Ed note: I am pleased to present this post from guest blogger Ms. Amanda LePore.
I have anxiety. It runs in my family, so I should have expected it (thanks a lot, genes!). Growing up, I felt that I wasn’t completely “normal.” (insert all the jokes about me being an “awkward weirdo” here) I mean, don’t get me wrong, I had a great childhood with a loving family, great friends, etc., but I noticed that I would act a bit differently than my friends. I was a “goody-two-shoes,” but to the point where I would cry and it would be a huge deal when someone was mad at me or I got in trouble. In hindsight, I had a lot of guilt over things that now I realize weren’t that big of a deal. One memory is from 2nd grade when I told my friend that a lunch lady was fat and having that friend go and tattle on me… then I needing help getting my shoes tied and the only person available was the one I had insulted. I felt like such an awful person (this was one of the things I confessed at my first Holy Communion… Yeah, like I said, didn’t get in trouble often).
I was also a bit of a perfectionist, especially when it came to school. I would cry when I came home with a bad grade. I was a pretty sensitive child, I guess. But the thing is… I wasn’t forced to be a certain way. My parents expected me to try my best and work hard, but I wasn’t punished when I got a low score on a test or assignment. I was just encouraged to improve however possible.
Once adulthood hit, the feelings started getting harder to handle. I was quick to have a temper, I had little to no patience, I was pretty emotional and on top of all that, I was starting to have physical panic attacks; shakiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, etc. It was then I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). I tried various medications, which either made me feel numb to the world or just did nothing for me. I went to therapy for a few sessions, which I feel did not personally help because I already would blab about my problems to anyone that would listen. But the anxiety was starting to affect the relationships in my life, so I had to figure out something.
Early in 2014 I was going on my first trip abroad (first time on a plane, too) to London on a college trip for 10 days. I loved this trip but there was one major thing about the trip I would’ve changed; that I wasted hundreds of dollars because I had a massive panic attack before seeing a show on West End with my friends. What was the reason for my panic attack? To this day I don’t know exactly what set it off. The caffeine from my Starbucks drink? The temperature of the theatre making me feel sick? The feeling of suffering alone while my friends were all in the show? I’m not sure. All I know is that I had to go to the first aid station and explain to the guy working there that I was losing feeling in my pinkies and I thought I was going to pass out and vomit at the same time. He explained that there were no diseases or conditions that would be causing that and that it must be an anxiety attack. I had never had one before in my life! I was brought to a VIP section where I had my own private bathroom and couch set-up, but I wasn’t able to watch the show. It was embarrassing and upsetting. I felt so terrible, both physically and mentally.
That was one of the moments that forced me to get my anxiety under control. I chose to make lifestyle changes. I started running and trying to eat better, yet I still had almost daily nausea and just a terrible feeling all the time. I got a blood test that came back completely normal. I knew there was nothing else wrong; it was truly my anxiety wreaking all this havoc on my body and mind. I decided to try a different kind of medication, Prozac. I am now on the lowest dosage and I honestly feel that it’s working well. I rarely feel sick and I’m learning how to cope and handle my anxiety in a healthy way. Honestly, I’m sad I didn’t find this medication sooner and I am pretty grateful for having it now.
I do not have shame for having anxiety. Everyone has something they have to work through with themselves. Just because it may be “in your head” doesn’t mean it’s not real. This is my personal story with anxiety. Everyone is different. Do not give up! Sometimes the needed change requires a mix of lifestyle changes, medication and/or therapy.
The author of this post is Ms. Amanda LePore, the “voice” of Lifesjourney Life Coaching and On Finding Peace podcast. She is a 23-year-old actress, model, voiceover artist and radio host. She was born and raised on Long Island, NY, relocating to the Southern Maryland area in 2006. She holds a bachelor’s degree in theatre with minors in film, media studies, dance, and English. Check out her blog page at astheamandaturns.wordpress.com and website at www.msamandalepore.com. Her business email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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