Ciao, I’m Amanda.

I come from a family where anxiety runs rampant. I’ve experienced the highs and lows of this disorder for years; from crippling panic for no apparent reason to the liberation of being able to experience life without the constant feeling of impending doom.

I definitely disassociated most of my worst times suffering from GAD. I know that I experienced a tiny amount in elementary school, junior high was okay, but I know that I dropped out of high school because of it. This gives me a ballpark idea of when my anxiety was at it’s worst. I had developed agoraphobia as a side effect, and at one point it was localized to my bedroom, at which time even going to the washroom was triggering for me. 

It was a strange and blurry time, and the fears I developed around it became debilitating. I had a lot of support from my family, and those relationships quickly became my excuse for not doing the work that needed to be done. I would call out for them when I was panicking instead of trying to deal with it myself. I depended on my family to bail me out of whatever situation was triggering me, which wasn’t conducive to the independent life that I craved. I am, however, grateful to have had parents who understood, because I know how awful the opposite can be.

I panicked. They rescued me. I cried. I cried because I knew that I couldn’t continue living a life where I needed my dad within arms reach forme to be able to function. It was scary. It took me a long time, but eventually I started seeing a therapist.

She gave me homework.

“This week, Amanda, I want you to drive yourself to the corner store. You can do it. Get yourself your favourite chocolate bar. Actually, no. Get yourself TWO of them. I know you love your sweets.” Do something simple, normal, independently. This terrified me. It took me a long time to take that leap. But when I did, it felt completely liberating. I had a few episodes during those exercises, but doing them, TRUSTING them, believing that expanding my bubble of safety would help, it eventually did.

I always wish I had a simplified answer of what it was exactly that “saved” me. The short but long answer is TIME. I went from not being able to leave my bedroom, to eventually driving by myself, to eventually going on my first trip alone.

There are so many details that I don’t remember, but all I know is that I truly believed for a long period of time that I would never be able to have a normal life. I thought I would have to live with my parents forever. I thought I would never travel, never date, never be able to live a fully independent life.

I don’t believe that GAD ever fully goes away. I think you just get better at understanding it. You get in control. You find the right therapist, perhaps even the right medication, and you find people who can relate. You Google the shit out of it. You realize that you’re not the only person suffering, and you feel less alone. Coping mechanisms, grounding exercises – these WORK. Believe me, they work, although at times it feels hopeless.

I believe with every ounce of my being that I will continue getting better.

I refuse to accept that I don’t have the strength to change this familial pattern.

This is where it stops.