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Day One of the Forum

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Day One of the Forum


My Background:

Episode 1: As a teenager I was a professional singer. I was raised to be a rock star, basically. I wasn't famous or anything but made pretty good money. My father was a brilliant guitarist who was in the band with me. I had the best music equipment and was able to work with brilliant musicians (all much older than me). After I graduated high school I went to Berklee College of Music in Boston. When I came home for my first summer break (Lincoln, NE) my father was arrested for embezzlement. It seems that's how he was funding my music career and college. The first panic attacked I had was in 1999, shortly before my 21st birthday. My father was just sentenced to prison I did not have the money to continue school in Boston. I was quite the pot head and suddenly I had panic attacks anytime I smoked. So I did the rational thing and quit smoking weed. It worked. No more panic attacks. I lived my life as normal, working, writing, hanging out with friends. When I was 24 I decided to go back to college for something entirely different. (Before it was music, now it was ancient literature and religion). One semester in my apartment burned down and I lost everything. I had a difficult time, but in general I was fine.

Episode 2: In fact, in 2005 I went on an archaeological excavation in Israel which I consider the high point of my life. It was absolutely a Paradise for me (even as a pagan). If it weren't for all the violence there I would probably move. So I came back for my last year of college and began applying to Grad schools and studying for the GRE. The stress proved to be too much. By the end of the fall semester I began having panic attacks, though I wasn't quite sure what was happening. I did not correlate what I went through in 1999 with the new symptoms in 2005, until much later. It continued to get worse. In April I was officially diagnosed with Panic Disorder and put on various medications, most of which weren't helping at all. This runs in my family. My sister is on disability for being agoraphobic. Unfortunately most of my other family members would never get diagnosed but there is a lot of anxiety present. My doctors seemed to think it was a combination of genetics and cumulative stress over time (my dad going to prison, my apartment burning down, stressing over grad school). My professors worked with me quite a bit and I was able to graduate with honors. I moved to Minnesota, where UMN was paying me to study and teach and by coincidence where my parents had moved a year before. So for the summer I lived with them and saw doctors and tried to work it out before school began. I was put on Fluoxetine at some point that summer, which did eventually work for me. But Graduate School proved to be too much. I was fine teaching but my own classes were difficult for me. I left for health reasons. They were really kind about it and even let me keep the health insurance for another semester. Within a month of me quitting school my condition dramatically improved. By the following April I felt fine (2007).

Episode 3: Like many others, I quit taking my meds. This was around May 2007, shortly after I felt "fine". By October the panic attacks came back as badly as before and I could barely keep my job. In December, right before christmas, my boyfriend broke up with me and my anxiety sky-rocketed. I went back to the doctor and was put back on my medication and started seeing a therapist. I was able to get it under control by June of 2009. I stopped therapy. Like many others, I hate therapy. I have never been able to find one I like, even today. I think what helped me the most was getting back into writing and getting a cat. My beautiful Hera is still with me. 

Episode 4: So, onward with my story. In 2010 I decided the best place for me was back "home", Lincoln, NE. I was ready to start living my life again and I felt that was where I needed to be. I moved back and got a job (which I still have). A month into it I broke two bones in my right leg. I was on disability for two months and still have 2 plates and 16 screws in it. Needless to say that put a damper on starting a new life. But I slowly was able to use my leg again and about a year later moved into my own apartment. It was actually the first one I had by myself since the fire, 10 years earlier. A new boyfriend moved in, which I do regret, but these things happen. By September we broke up. Though this did trigger my third (or fourth) episode in anxiety, I think it was an improvement. I'm much better when I'm by myself and FINALLY feel like my life is starting again. Though it did leave me in a horrible financial situation that I'm still trying to recover from. The anxiety took months to hit me, just like in 2008/2009.

((switching to present tense here)). I've been taking my meds still but it feels like they aren't working anymore. About a month ago, (months overdue), I went to my doctor. They increased 2 of my meds. The fluoxetine for anxiety, and ampitryptiline for migraines (another wonderful disorder I have).  I have troubles eating. The worst part about my anxiety is I have troubles swallowing, so eating naturally is difficult. I have these problems when I'm by myself or around others. But, of course, it bothers me more when I'm around others. At home I don't care how crazy I look trying to eat. I am writing, and even singing (not performing), but nothing seems to be helping right now. I know I just need to give it more time. I'm taking all the correct steps (except finding a therapist but I do plan on getting to that) so perhaps it is only a matter of time. Hera is still there for me, and now I have another cat, Isis, as well. I hope my financial situation will be better by July and that will take some stress off of me, but unfortunately I don't think I'll be caught up on bills until then. Thanks to FMLA I still have my job. I'm just now starting a new position, a processing job rather than phone customer service, so I hope that will help as well. I am starting to exercise more, but I'm sure it will be awhile until I feel I am really in a routine with it. 

At this point I'm not sure what to say. I was forced to go home today from work due to a migraine. The doctors think that if we can get my anxiety under control the migraines will decrease to a more manageable state. We'll see. 


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We are a community of people struggling with mental health issues, you are not alone!