Stories That Have Heart - Heather

My name is Heather I am mental health advocate and I live in Pennsylvania.

I have struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember. I remember being in 2nd grade gym class and having my first panic attack. We were playing dodge ball and I was the last person standing on my team. The next thing I knew I had this overwhelming feeling and felt like I was going to die. As a small child I had no idea what was happening. All I remember is not being able to breathe, my heart beating 1000x per minute, getting nauseous and feeling like I was going to pass out. And that’s exactly what I did. I vomited and then passed out. I was sent home from school early and was taken to the ER where they did a bunch of tests and everything was fine. That’s when they told me it sounded like I had a severe panic attack.

From that day forward, my anxiety has been a constant in my life. I went to many therapists when I was younger to try to get help with my anxiety, but after a couple of bad experiences, I stopped going and decided to try to deal with it on my own. From going so many years without therapy and/or medication, my anxiety took many different forms and ended up taking over my life. I have always been an introvert and have never liked any kind of attention on me. Therefore, I found it really hard to go to therapy and talk to a stranger about my problems. I have really bad social anxiety, health anxiety, and PTSD. My health anxiety stems from being adopted and not knowing my medical history. If I develop any kind of unusual symptom, I automatically assume that it is fatal. My PTSD stems from getting bullied, getting chased by someone with a knife, having a stalker, among other things.

Even though I’ve gotten to a place that I know what works for me and how to calm myself down when I am having anxiety or panic attacks, I would strongly recommend to anyone having any kind of anxiety, depression, ptsd, etc. to get help from a professional and not go about things the way that I did. Had I sucked it up and went to therapy, all those things wouldn’t have taken over my life for as long as they have. Even though it’s better, I still have my days when it gets overwhelming. I could have saved myself years of suffering alone had I just reached out for help.


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