From Paige K., age 15. Pennsylvania.
"I was diagnosed with panic disorder without agoraphobia during my 8th grade year. The attacks that I was experiencing put me in a state of total fear. I couldn’t breathe, see or move. My body would shut down completely, and I had no control over it. What is worse, these panic attacks used to happen during the school day, and I couldn’t do anything about them. I started slipping in my grades, friendships, and family life. Every single day, I was afraid to wake up because I knew what I would have to face. I went to my mom and begged to see a doctor. I knew it could not be normal. But my pediatrician at the time dismissed my claims, and told me not to worry. It was only an asthma attack. But I knew that it couldn’t have been.
Finally, after many visits, a doctor was able to diagnose my problems. I was sent straight to a therapist, and put on Celexa and Ativan. It was a whirlwind of emotions. I was scared, alone, and I didn’t know how to handle it. The panic attacks were so hard to conquer. No one around me seemed to understand. My teachers didn’t adapt to it – If I had an attack in class, they couldn’t and wouldn’t let me step out. I just had to work through it. Anyone that has experienced these knows that is not something you can just do. I felt like the world was completely against me getting better.
Every attack made my confidence drop. I felt like I would never get to the point of normal life again. But then I read I Don’t Want to be Crazy, and I realized that there were so many other people who knew exactly how I felt. I wasn’t alone, and I was going to be a success just like everyone before me. Three years later, I am still not perfect. I have my moments, and sometimes I go through panic attacks that are worse than they used to be. But with the help of therapists, my medication, and a strong will, I have been able to define myself without saying, “I’m Paige, and I have panic disorder”.
I am above my illness. I am so much more than what is holding me back. I just want anyone out there who is reading this to know that the world is not against your recovery. Just take a step back and look around. There are so many beautiful resources at your fingertips, and you can do it. You just have to be ready and willing to take the first step towards being O.K."