My User name says it all Shadowwin. That is who I was for a very long time a woman who sat in the shadows of life and watched it spiral by as if I was watching a movie on Television. I actually adopted the name about 10 years ago just before my panic attacks began and right after I was raped I wanted to be invisible, I wanted to be forgotten, I wanted to melt into the darkness and just hide from it all
……..In April I will celebrate my 32nd Birthday, In February my 6th Wedding Anniversary and I am the proud Step-Mom of a wonderful 10 year old boy. My hobbies include Medieval Re-enactment and Creative writing as well as burying myself into the computer.. hehe.
Now that, that is all out of the way I can move on to what has brought a great majority of us to this site and particularly these forums I am a sufferer of Panic Disorder.
Who would of thought 21 years ago when I laid in my bed scared to go to sleep, crying because I felt like I couldn’t breathe, shaking for no reason, heart pounding thinking nothing was real that there was a name for what I was going through. I was only 10 years old when it all began not to long after my Grandfather died.. His death had an incredible impact on me.. I had been raised by my Mother who was a single Mother long before it was accepted, I endure physical and mental abuse from my Grandmother who was hailed as the family saint and my Mother never had time for me nor would she listen when I would tell her what was happening to me the only one I had to turn to was my Grandfather and in Many ways he was not only my Father Figure since mine took off before I was even more but he was my first best friend.
So there I was left alone in a house with two women who really could have cared less, my mother was so wrapped up in her career (She was a nurse for 27 years at a Hospital here in New York) and my Grandmother was nothing more than a bitter old controlling woman who had her nose in everything I did.
It has taken me years to get to the point that I could take or write about any of this.. I always thought it was just me, that I was loosing my mind or that I was dying slowly from something no one else could see. My Mother despite her nursing career never saw the things her daughter was going through in fact she ignored many of my medical issues that later manifested in other forms in the years that have come to pass.
Then one day the attacks were gone.. by the time they faded the first time I was 16 years old and I had turned into the rebellious teenager who just didn’t care anymore. My Mother took ill she was diagnosed with blood clots in both of her legs and forced to retire from her job she ended up on disability before my 17th birthday and I ended up quitting school to take on a full time job to help her afford the too tiny apartment we had moved into after my grandmother was put into a nursing home.
She still never had time for me, instead she would always tell me how she was on blood thinners and if she cut herself while no one was home and couldn’t get help she would bleed to death one heck of a thing to tell your teenage daughter and slowly the attacks began to come back.
Well mom eventually met a man who took her on and supported her every whim and desire but he couldn’t stand me finally he laid out the ultimatum me or her and a week before my 18th Birthday Mom opened the door and put me and my things out to this day I have never gotten an apology for it nor does she appear to have any remorse for it.
For 7 years after that I drifted from place to place got mixed up in a bad ground, fell face first into a drug problem and a terrible first marriage by the age of 20. I had occasional attacks here and there but nothing that would make me believe I had a severe problem finally around 25 it all came to a head just after I married my second and current husband.
We had a terrible snow storm here in Buffalo, New York and I always had been a confident winter drive snow was like rain to me and I believe that I could make it home instead of staying at work. By the time I had gotten out on the road hundreds of other people also thought they could get out of the city, I had a friend with me so I wasn’t alone and at the time I wasn’t scared either I knew we could safely make it out of the city.. I should have taken my husbands advice that night and driven straight home but my friends Mother lived closer and she offered us a place to wait out the storm.. We never made it there.
In fact we made it to the worst part of the city known as the Fruit Belt where I lost control of the car and slid into a ditch and to no avail we couldn’t get the car back out, what made it worse for me was two blocks over was where I had been raped 5 years prior and suddenly.. those memories flooded my mind full force and I felt my world rip apart.
My friend or should I say ex friend since we never spoke again after this incident decided she was going to get out of the car and go for help.. Well she left me there to watch the car with my cell phone with the snow coming down so bad I couldn’t see across the street and she never returned..
Finally after an hour the car ran out of gas and with it there went the heat I should mention at the time I was already on Paxil to control my panic attacks and what a night for it to choose to quit working.. the night I needed it most.
So here I was stuck with freezing to death in the car or getting out myself and going for help, I was in hysterics on the phone with my husband crying for him to help me and him yelling at me to get out of the car and walk to safety I still don’t know how I managed to convince myself to get out but I was terrified all I could remember was the walk down this very street the night I was raped to the bus stop and the man that did it following me.. what made it even worse is I had to walk right past the alleyway where it happened I had to see it all over again, Blinded by the snow and my own terror I finally stumbled into a church full of people and a kindly Minister who wrapped me up in a blanket and fed me hot coco but it was too late.
Sitting in the church that night watching everything fade in and out the sea of unfamiliar faces in front of me I fell into the worst attack I had ever had in my life. After that night I attempted to return to business as usual but I couldn’t. Every time I would get behind the wheel of the car I would panic, every time I drove to work I would wonder if I was going to make it home I started having attacks everywhere I went including the grocery store and soon I just couldn’t go anywhere at all anymore.
In February of 2000 I became house bound.. I was fired from my job at the bank for my attendance and I couldn’t even go near an open door without feeling like I was going to die to go out that door would leave me in a sobbing heap in the car panicking all the while we were on the road and panicking all the way home after where we went by May of 2000 I didn’t leave the house at all anymore and I lost myself in my computer.
This continued on until Sept of 2004 I had pretty much given up on everything, myself, my life, my family and ever being normal again. For the longest time after I came out of my daze I couldn’t remember anything that happened within those 4 years I had completely and utterly suppressed the memories even now I have trouble recalling things within that time frame but it becomes a bit clearer every day that passes.
I have been asked a few times what made me try again, what made me stand up against the fear that kept me house bound and I have simply answered each time that I became angry. I was so sick and tired of sitting in this house in the same position feeling sorry for myself that one day I just pulled myself out of my chair and went out the door.. no drugs, no helping hands, no safe person no nothing I just went but I found out in July of this last year that I had gone a little too fast and a little too blindly.
Last summer my in laws moved 900 miles away to Tennessee my Mother in Law had become to me the Mother I had always wanted and for 5 years lived a 5 min drive away from me when I needed her. Suddenly she was gone and the world seemed like a big scary place all over again.. too much change far too quickly and it left me sitting at the bottom of the barrel looking for a way out all over again. Everything was still so new to me, I was fighting my own fears daily and My Mother in law with all she had been through inspired me to fight so her not being here to turn to for advice or stop in coffee when i was feeling low made me shrink again by Sept 2005 I was having constant attacks again but this time.. I approached it all differently.
I had a horrid attack in Sept the worst one i have ever had driving home from my brother’s house who lives an hour and a half away from me with my Step Son in the car with me I panicked so badly I near put our Van into a tree… I knew at that point it was either get help or that was it I was back in the house all over again.
I had come too far to give up but I was too afraid to fight at the same time We made it home safely (someone had to be watching over us that day) and I immediately called my Doctor and my Job..
I saw my doctor the next day and was prescribed 75 mg of Effexor which I take once a day and given 2 weeks off from work to adjust by the middle of October I had a handle on the Attacks and I began Hypnotherapy with a wonderful counsellor I would trade for the world.
Where I stand now.. is an odd place I can control my attacks, I can drive but now I feel empty.. because I’m not sure who I am anymore. I live so long in the constant state of fear over so many years that to be without it I feel out of place.. I have unnerving episodes of Depersonalization but I know the root of that is being without the fear and the need to learn about myself. There are days the world looks brand new to me like I’m seeing it through the eyes of a baby who is seeing it all for the first time it is all very disturbing to me but .. I know this too shall pass.
I still have attacks.. I call them mini attack or level 4 for those of you who know the 10 levels of panic attacks.. I get to the point I start to feel myself slip and I instantly regain myself in now usually through distraction or meditation, yoga helps immensely also.. I still have my moments where I become fearful as well…
I know it’s not over, I know it’s just beginning.. I have a interesting road ahead of me now and so many things that I need to discover about myself and everything around me, but it can be done.. Determination, Inspiration and Understanding are our three best assets with them firmly implanted at the foundation anything is possible.
I don’t know where this path is going to lead me.. but it is a path that I must walk.. yes there is a whole score of what if’s and the unknown is looming right there outside my window but it’s not so scary anymore it is my next story waiting to unfold.. perhaps some day I will publish some of my stories for the world to read.. share with them what it is like to live in our world.. our world of Fear..
For now.. I have stepped from the Shadows but they are there right behind me perhaps one day I can let in enough light to drown them out completely ..
Thank You for taking the time to read this I know it is long
and as always if anyone ever needs an ear or in our case a set of eyes with a caring heart.. I’m always available to help a sister or a brother through a tough time.. after all that’s what we are you know.. a family of people brought together by our fears and anxieties.. and this is what families do support each other.
Take a Stand Against Panic
Brightest Blessings to You and Yours