My mother had always called me Ann Landers growing up. She told me I was great at giving advice and that I could start my own advice column one day. This is something that I would often dream about…..Renee LoDuca, the next Ann Landers. I was the person my friends would always come to for help. I even had my friends boyfriends calling me up for advice about their relationships. I felt exhilarated anytime someone came to me with a problem. I never liked the fact that people had problems, but I did love it when they came to me. I LOVED to help people.
When I started suffering from anxiety the roles of my life reversed. I was the one who now needed help and I didn’t know where to go. At first I went to anyone who would listen, but as my anxiety grew worse I started to hold it inside more. The way that I was feeling was starting to really scare me and I didn’t know how to tell the people in my life that. I felt like I was on the verge of schizophrenia. I couldn’t control my thoughts and it seemed as if voices were running rampant through my mind. I felt afraid all the time. Noises scared me, silence scared me, everything scared me. My eyesight seemed to deteriorate, my breathing became erratic and painful. My body ached all over and I began having random muscle spasms that would leave me on the floor unable to get up. I developed a fear of food. I was afraid of having an allergic reaction to something I ate so suddenly everything I put in my mouth made me feel like my throat was closing and I was going to die. I later found out that I did have some food allergies (nothing that would kill me), and hearing this put me over the top. Food became the enemy. I had to eat to live so every time I ate a panic attack quickly followed. I felt dizzy and lightheaded, like I was in a cloud all the time, a dark dark cloud.
A panic attack usually started each day and would end the day as well. If you know what triggers your panic attacks you are better able to prevent them, but during this time EVERYTHING seemed to trigger an attack. Some of the many things that would trigger my attacks were driving, going into a store, being still and having it quiet around me, being in a crowd, being in a tall building, flying, eating, scary movies, books, being one on one with a person, and the list goes on and on and on. You get the point, I was a walking anxiety attack. I remember counting one day and I had 20 full blown panic attacks. If you have ever had a panic attack you know how awful they are. They leaving you feeling like a Mack Truck has just run you over multiple times and then the truck driver spits on you before he pulls away. You feel really crappy afterwards. I knew I was having panic attacks, but I didn’t truly understand them and I felt ashamed to talk about how bad I was suffering.
How does the person with all of the answers to everyone else’s problems not have the answers to her own problems??? I couldn’t let everyone know that I was falling apart inside. I was afraid that if anyone really knew what was going on inside my brain that they would lock me away in a psychiatric hospital. This was not the person that people were use to, so I put on my smile and walked around trying so hard to not lose it in front of someone; while at the same time just wanting someone to help me. It was as if the old Renee was inside banging on my head screaming, “someone help me! I need help and I don’t know what to do!”
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