I Am Getting Better Every Day!

Hi, my name is Jeff and I would like to tell you about my anxiety experience.

My path to recovery and where I am now. At this point, I would consider myself 85% recovered. I am getting better every day and can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I can remember my first panic attack like it was yesterday. I was sitting on my dad’s couch watching a basketball game and all of a sudden bam it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I have never been so scared in my entire life. I wasn’t scared about dying, or having a heart attack, I just thought I was going crazy and that is not a pleasant feeling when you are 13 years old!

That is the day my life changed.  I pretty much lived in constant fear of everything and nothing at the same time. For me it wasn’t really situational I was just always scared, whether I was on a plane or watching a movie.

I had days were I would have 15 panic attacks in one day and in a constant state of general anxiety.  The funny part was I was only 13 years old and I never told anyone!

Not my parents, friends, teachers, anyone.  I don’t know if I was ashamed or if I just didn’t want to know what was wrong with me.

I assumed I had some major brain disorder and was going crazy.  From that day forward I just did the best I could to make it through each day.

It took some time but my anxiety started to calm down as I know now that I was basically doing the Dare steps and didn’t know it.

I just kept moving forward with my life, accepting the feelings and little by little and I started living a relatively normal life.

I would just avoid certain things that could trigger an attack.

Fast forward to when I was 37, which was last year.  We decided to take a family trip to Hawaii as I knew that was on my girlfriends bucket list.

I knew this would push my boundaries way past anything I would normally do but I knew it was important for her so I went.

It was our second day in Hawaii and I was actually doing reasonably well.  Out of nowhere I had a full blown melt down!

I am not sure if it was just the stress in my life, the fact that I was on an island or my body just finally had enough and broke down.

I had a level 10 panic attack that literally knocked me to the floor!  Keep in mind I still had no idea what was going on and thought I was just crazy.

Again, I really didn’t say much and just finished out the last 6 days of our vacation in a constant state of panic.

When we got back to Arizona I really started to fall apart and was living in a constant state of pure terror and finally had to tell my girlfriend and my mother.

After 24 years I decided to figure out what was going on, so I started to google my symptoms.  I remember my hands were shaking and I could barely type.

But I figured out that I had an Anxiety Disorder with Panic Attacks that was later confirmed by a doctor.

Like everyone, I googled nonstop trying to find a cure or at least some help with what I had.

This is when I came across DARE and this is when my life changed again, but for the better.  I read the book and cried throughout most of the entire thing!

I finally had discovered that I was not going crazy and that there was a way out of this.

The second I started reading I knew for a fact Barry had gone through this as well and he knew what I was going through.

So the journey began!!!  I started using my DARE technique, eating better, taking vitamins and doing everything Barry told me to do.

That was when I started to heal!  It definitely has not been an easy road but it is so worth it!

The hardest thing for me but the most valuable was the acceptance part.  How do you possibly accept such a terrible feeling?

Not only was it difficult but I really didn’t get it.  I mean I understood it on paper but how do I implement it?

One day I was having really high anxiety at work and I just took a seat and let the anxiety, crazy thoughts and body sensations just be there.

Literally within minutes my anxiety completely went away!  That was the first time I understood acceptance and realized that, acceptance is just not resisting what is going on.

The best thing I learned that day was if I can soften my reactiveness to the thoughts and sensations then I can heal.

From that day forward I started to not react to literally everything that was thrown my way.  This is a skill that doesn’t happen overnight, but takes practice, patience and time!

I promise, if you keep working on it, it will become instinctive.  Just remember, we are okay!  We just have an alarm system that is very sensitive and tends to go off when it doesn’t need to.

If you can learn to be calm in the midst of chaos you can and will heal.  Like I said, acceptance was not only the hardest thing for me but, by far, the most important step in my recovery!

You will have setbacks and you will think OMG I am still screwed up and I will never heal, but don’t listen to that voice!

Every setback I had, as scary as it was, just made me stronger and helped in my recovery.  I promise, when you have a setback, you don’t have to start over, you just have to re-engage with DARE.

For me, there were days where I had to stop, take a breath and reengage with the DARE steps up to 60 times in a day!

I would feel better and then it would come right back! But, I just keep doing it over and over again!

A year ago I couldn’t even get out of bed, watch TV or really do anything and last week I took my family on another vacation.

I enjoyed every minute of it, with basically little to no anxiety!  I even took a 2 hour boat ride to an island, which was a really big scare for me!

When anxiety did pop its head up I just didn’t resist it and it immediately went away.

So keep “Dare-ing” and don’t lose the faith as you will get there I promise!

I am almost to the point where I am actually happy that I have anxiety because it has made me such a better parent, more compassionate and just overall a stronger person!

Think of it this way, who else can go through pure terror and panic and be totally comfortable about it?  Now that is strength that not many people will ever experience!

14 replies on “I Am Getting Better Every Day!

  • dorothy furman

    thank you for sharing such a wonderfully, inspirational account of how you ‘overcame’
    my life has been a similar journey and felt your pain and joy.
    from one brave soul to another.
    always practicing
    Bless our tools.

  • Anna

    Hi Jeff, this is really amazing and gives me hope that I can recover too. Am very happy to hear that you have got your life back and you were even able to enjoy your holiday with your family. Very well done!

  • Mike

    That was definitely a relatable story. I started having panic attacks at the age of 10. I was intensely afraid of dying. For about two years I suffered panic attacks solely about death. Then the attacks and ocd’s started about other things. I was bullied through most of my childhood which didn’t help at all. I told myself college was a fresh start, then in my second semester the panic about dying started all over again. It threw me into intense generalized anxiety and panic again. After college while dealing with an enormous amount of college debt and 2 college degrees I can’t use where I live, the panic just continued. I accepted the ‘nutty’ feelings as my destiny. Now, I realize I’m not alone. Stories like this give me hope of happiness someday. Everytime I think about an anxiety free life I can’t help but tear up. Thank you for sharing!

  • Sajeel

    Thank you! I too have the same fear that you had and hopefully I will recover one day as you did.

  • Ellen

    This is amazing thanks so much Jeff. This gives me hope! Keep going and can’t wait to hear from you again when you feel 100% recovered!

  • Claire Page

    WOW amazing story Jeff and very wise words and you describe a good way at looking at things. Well done and thanks for the inspiration. With Dare we CAN do ANYTHING!!!!!! 🙂

  • Dennis

    Great job Jeff. Your acceptance and implementation of Barry’s DARE response guidelines are definitely paying big dividends in your life. Keep it up!!

  • Jackie

    This fits me. I remember in the 10th grade I had to stand in front of the class to read a report. I got so anxious I couldn’t do it. I quit my Sophmore year in school that day. I am reading the DARE book but haven’t gotten the program yet. I am 66 yrs old now. The panic attacks are back since my mother’s recent death. I just need relief.

  • Gennady

    Thanks for sharing Jeff. I’m 51 year old man. I have an anxiety for almost 30 years. Stories like this make me believe I can be anxiety free one day.

  • Penelope Dawn Welch

    Thanks Jeff. All stories are quite different but the fear is always the same. It is interesting as to how we decide what the problem is dependent on our age and knowledge or fear at that time in the first place or that for many we know there is something not quite right but don’t know any better. What is also interesting that we often don’t tell a parent or anyone and that they are the ones who should be our biggest supporter or font of knowledge is not the person we turn to and that must be difficult for them when they find out. We all from somewhere fear madness and that is what great fear and we live with that often for years and it doesn’t always stop because many psychiatrists prefer to think there is something under the mental health heading rather than just anxiety and a neurosis and this can easily be addressed. So thank you for your story.

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