Before I begin, I would like to inform you that this is very personal. If you could withhold any judgments that may occur throughout this post, please keep it to yourself. If you have any questions about anything at all I will be open to responding to any questions, but again, please do respect this post and me.
Also, quick disclaimer: if you’re uncomfortable with talk to do with drug use then I highly advise you not to read any further. Thank you!
Nevertheless, I do hope this post will help at least one of you who are suffering with anxiety or Depersonalization Disorder. It’s important to feel like your mental illness is normal and that you are not alone.
If someone was to ask me “what’s something you wouldn’t usually share” anxiety would, in fact, be my thing. Not because of the anxiety itself or not even how it came about, but how it got worse.
I was in between the ages nine to eleven – I can’t remember exactly what age - when I first experienced an anxiety attack.
I was lying in bed; drifting off into slumber when suddenly it felt unusually hard to breathe. I didn’t think anything of it to begin with. I thought that maybe it was just me and I was fine. Then finally I realised, after a short while after, that I was still finding it unusually hard to breathe and now I was beginning to feel panic. I quickly left my bed, ran to my mum and dad and cried out hysterically that I couldn’t breathe and that I was going to die.
As my mum quickly got ready to drive me to the hospital, I held my dad tight, crying out “I don’t want to die.” Of course he held me even tighter and reassured me that I was not going to die.
When we got to the hospital, by now my breathing was steadied, but mentally I wasn’t. I was shaking, still crying and could not fathom what was happening to me. My mum assumed it might be an asthma attack. Mind you, I have never had asthma before, so we thought it could be possible that it was my first asthma attack.
Doctors and nurses done tests at all hours of the morning and they didn’t find anything wrong with me. As far as they were concerned, I was psychically A-Okay. My mum and I were baffled as to what happened. Soon enough they sent me home diagnosing me with an “anxiety attack”. At the age of nine to eleven, I did not have any knowledge on anxiety, let alone anxiety attacks so life went on as habitual.
After my first anxiety attack at the ages between nine to eleven, in 2002 – 2004, I did not have any signs of another anxiety attack, so of course I thought nothing of it and life went on as if nothing happened. I did, however, battle with clinical depression throughout my teenage years due to bullying and other factors, which lead to social anxiety. Because of my social anxiety I stopped the following:
- Staying at friends’ houses
- Socializing with people at school
- Socializing on the phone
- Feeling confident with myself and my body-image
- Going to parties
Basically, I would isolate myself from people and became anxious around anything to do with “people”. The only person I would feel comfortable talking to was my boyfriend at the time – let’s call him Andrew for the sake of confidentiality and safety.
Andrew was supportive, although I did feel like he didn’t understand my social anxiety and me. But, nevertheless, he accepted it and it never became an issue.
That was until 2012. After a three-year “very close intimate friendship-relationship” with Andrew, we broke up. I felt lost, confused, broken and most of all, I felt anxious, because my only support was gone. At the age of sixteen I felt like my world around me was crumbling. And that was the night I had my second anxiety attack.
I remember crying so much to the point I was dry-reaching that Andrew and I was no longer an item. My only stable friendship was over. I cried, I cried and I cried. I cried to the point where my body felt like it was shutting down. My breathing was, once again, unusually hard. My head began spinning and my body began trembling. I was now dry-reaching because the nausea I felt at the bottom of my stomach. My heart was racing. I felt like I was having a heart attack. To calm myself down, I researched my symptoms and the word “anxiety” popped up all over again.
The very next day, I saw my school Chaplin and gave him a sheet of paper with all the psychical symptoms I had the night before. He gave me advice and gave me a fact sheet on anxiety and soon after I was getting counselling for the “loss of a loved one” and my anxiety.
My anxiety didn’t stop there. Every day I would have at least two anxiety attacks and life before I knew it wasn’t the same. My anxiety became a part of me and I knew I had to accept it because it wasn’t going away any time soon.
Early 2013 I was still getting counselling for my new-found depression and anxiety. Life was different now, I finished high school, I was in University and I even had a new group of friendships and a new relationship. And that was of course, Kevin.
At this point, my life felt as though it was finally coming together rather than falling apart. I was happy.
I still couldn’t stay at friends’ houses because of my anxiety, I still couldn’t converse on the phone, but I was a lot more outgoing and a lot more confident with myself.
What I didn’t know was that I was turning to alcohol for an easy-fix. At the time I met Kevin, I was well and truly turning to alcohol as my support system, and I never acknowledged my behaviour until two of my friends told me that I was abusing alcohol – Just to be clear, I wasn’t drinking every hour of the day, but I was drinking every weekend – and it only got worse.
In 2013 my anxiety lessened. I now had a stable relationship with Kevin and I redeemed friendships with old friends. Andrew and I no longer resented each other and University was great. But I was still at that point in my life where I was experimenting… except alcohol was now out of the question.
My parents went away for the weekend, and Kevin was at graduation with his family, graduating. My friend, who we will call Katie for the sake of confidentiality and safety once again, was due to come over at 11:00 PM after she finished work to stay the night and keep me company. However, I wanted something to keep me occupied in the meantime since it was only 9:00 PM.
Earlier that night I became in possession of marijuana and I thought to myself, what better way to occupy myself than to get high? So, as soon as it hit 9:00 PM, I went out into my backyard and did what I did.
Looking up at the night sky, I didn’t feel an affect. I focused myself onto the moon and waited for something dramatic to happen, but I felt nothing. For a split second the moon turned into two moons but psychically, I felt no different. Unsatisfied, I went back inside.
This moment changed my life forever (and if I am being honest with you right now, I am feeling rather anxious and disconnected talking about it).
As soon as I leaned against my kitchen bench I felt my heart race faster than it has ever raced before. It felt like it was fluttering and was about to leave my chest and in that moment I felt a burst of endorphins ran through me like blood running through my veins. I felt fantastic and what I thought was “high”.
I made my way into my bedroom to enjoy the rest of the feeling but as soon as I sat on my bed and closed my eyes a burst of anxiety and a feeling I still yet struggle to describe come over me.
I no longer had control over my own body and this scared me. It really scared me.
I didn’t know what to do. I tried to tell myself it was only the “weed” that was doing this to me, but I wasn’t convinced. I actually, legitimately thought I was going to die.
I picked up my phone and after finally finding my contacts – which would have been easier if I wasn’t high – I dialed Kevin’s number. When he picked up I told him what I had done and that I knew I was going to die. I could hear the panic in his voice but he told me to stay inside and keep myself occupied until he was able to come to the rescue. Of course, as soon as I put down the phone, I didn’t listen. I went outside and life felt like it never has ever felt before.
The easiest way to describe the way I felt is: you know when you have those nightmares when you’re running to your destination but your destination gets further and further away and you know you’re never going to get there? That’s how I felt, but it was real life. Not a nightmare. It was beyond a nightmare.
After a few moments later – which felt like forever – my phone rang. I picked up my phone and it was Stevan. The beautiful man he is, stayed on the phone with me for as long as he could trying to keep me occupied and trying to keep me from doing something real stupid. After his advice, I went back inside and tucked myself into my bed and hung up the phone. Moments later, which again felt like forever, Katie was here. I was relieved. But still high.
I told her exactly what had happened and what was happening to me. She made sure I was eating and drinking and made sure I was safe. Then, finally, Kevin was here.
I began to feel okay. The feeling was wearing off and I felt exhausted. At 2:00 AM I was asleep.
The next morning I woke up, Kevin was gone and Katie was lying next to me in my bed and I couldn’t collect any memories from the night before. I felt scattered and disorientated. Soon after, Katie left to go to work and I was by myself again. I felt fine. I felt exhausted, a little sick but otherwise fine.
That was until I had another anxiety attack. This time it felt different. I felt like I was high all over again and I kept thinking to myself “is this nightmare ever going to end?!” I became very frustrated and called Kevin and told him I needed him once again.
Of course he came and he kept me company and told me I was going to be okay. I wasn’t convinced. I thought I had seriously effed myself up mentally and psychically. But I remained positive. That night, because my parents were still away, I invited some friends over for a drink or two to get my mind off of the experience. But it didn’t get any better. I kept having anxiety attacks every hour of the day and night and by the end of the night I was exhausted.
To cut the story short, my parents got home the next day and I told them what I had done because I couldn’t live with myself feeling anxious all the time and I was convinced I needed to go to the hospital. They weren’t happy. But they took me to the hospital nevertheless and the triage nurse told me she couldn’t do anything about it, as it would take a few weeks for the THC to leave my system. She reassured me that I should be fine in the next few weeks. So I went with that.
Weeks and months passed and I still was experiencing disconnected, almost-high-like anxiety attacks. I was at the point of my life where I wouldn’t leave my bed because I was constantly feeling disconnected, as though I had left my body. My daily life became so disturbed I knew I had to go and see a counsellor. And I did.
I saw my old counsellor and I told him exactly what had happened and how I have been feeling over the past few months. Because I had countless of nightmares over my experience, and smelt marijuana when it actually wasn’t near me, he diagnosed me with minor post-traumatic stress disorder and later on I self-diagnosed myself with Depersonalization Disorder.
Today I still experience ‘high-like’ anxiety attacks and my life has never been the same again.
My anxiety is worse than it ever has been. I get anxious going out to nightclubs in case of someone spiking my drinks and I feel anxious generally around a lot of people.
So, that’s that. This is my story on anxiety and how my anxiety came about.
I apologise for the lengthy post but there was a lot to talk about and cover, and I applaud you making it this far.
Like I said, if you have any questions at all, please do contact me on: firstname.lastname@example.org
I will be happy to answer any of your questions.