About Me: Male, 35, Rocky Mount, VA, member since Oct 2007
I am 33 years old, married to a wonderful woman (who was my highschool sweetheart, seperated and reunited of at all places, WalMart!), have 2 boys, ages 13 (Austin) and 14 (Telle), and a beautiful little girl, Lydia, who is 5.
We live in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia in a small rural town. I love the "slow" living associated with this place, especially since there is a bit more fast living just 18 miles down the road in the next biggest city.
I am an IT Specialist at a Dish Network Regional Service Provider. It is a load of work, but it keeps me busy and I love it (though the pay could be a little better, but beggars cannot be choosers in this economy).I recently completed my studies at Liberty University, with a BS in Management Information Systems. I hope to own my own consulting business within the next 4 years. My wife is also a FT student at Liberty University and works for Hallmark Corporate. She is in the Bachelors psychology program.
I am a Christian and have quite a testimony of the ultimate life-changing power of Jesus Christ if anyone wants to hear it! I coach my boys' soccer teams 2 seasons a year and Lydia will be starting her first year this spring.
When I have time, my interests/hobbies are: anything to do with technology, gadets and the like; some sports (yes, NASCAR too!), music - listening and playing (guitar), playing video games with the kids (I am especially fond of sports and music games, like the popular Guitar Hero and Rock Band games), learning as much as I can about historical Christianity and apologetics, which I get to do a lot in school, reading books and tech magazines (favorite authors are Critchton, Tess Gerritsen, Dan Brown (I know Christianity and Dan Brown book are not the best of friends, but I like his style and his novels are very "intelligently" written.), Moses :), Langdon, and several others that I cannot recall at this point in time. I like the outdoors, home and landscaping, website design, speding time with my wife and playing with the kids. There is more, but I will not bore you!
On to my history as it relates to my anxiety. I will try to make it brief, but I have been told that brevity is not my strongsuit!
When I was in highschool I was a pretty normal kid. I was a scout, in the marching band, advanced and AP classes, drama, and volunteered as an EMT for about 4 years. I graduated 11th in my class with a 3.9 GPA. Now, it may seem from that description that I was the stereotypical "nerd", but in actuality I think I was a bit different. In addition to all of this, I assumed a bit of the 90s grunge counter-culture as well. I had long hair, dressed in many layers of ragged (yet fashionable) t-shirts, long, baggy pants, and many chains and other metal accessories. I think my attempt was to show the "world" that a stereotype is just that and that I could still act and dress the way I did and yet be a productive and "good" kid. In the tradition of full disclosure, I can also say that I also partied a bit and did some recreational drugs with my friends on the weekend. Nothing that I considered too hard - just marijuana, some LSD, but that was about it. I never drank as my step-dad was an alcoholic and I really did not like what I saw it was doing to him and our family. I wasn't "popular" per se, nor did want to be, but I was nice and everyone who new me liked me I suppose, but it didn't really matter to me much.
Fast-forward to just out of highschool. I was attending college to be a paramedic and came home one day to my very drunk step dad who basically told me I was a piece of **** and kicked me out of the house for no reason at all - simply because he was drunk (I also think he was jealous of all that I was able to accomplish for myself despite him consistently trying to hold me back). I was 17 at the time, mind you, and he left me with nothing but the clothes on my back. The car I was using for school was his and it had all my books in it and he would not let me get them out. My mom came home later and I talked to her and she floored me by saying that maybe it was best. I was mad, but looking back I think she was just so scared of him and wanted to avoid any confrontation, at my expense.
So here I am a new "adult" at 17 with no money, no job, no car, no clothes, no place to live...you get the picture. Since my step-dad did not give me my books, I eventually had to drop out of college.
Over the next few years, I lived everywhere from the streets to horrible, murder, rape, and robbery-laden projects, to drug dealers' houses where partying was a 24-7 occaision. I suppose I was numb about everyting and took everything in stride. Eventually though, I decided that I could not sustain, nor did I want to, in that life any longer, so I slowly got back on my feet with better friends, a better job, and a better part of town.
Around about 2000, I began experience weird symptoms at work that were mainly feeling out-of-sorts with weird (what I perceived to be) heart palpitations, shortness of breath, etc. I ignored them for a while, but then went to the doctor, as I tought it may have been some heart problems. Also, I once passed out for no reason in a store. I never went to the hospital and never found out why that happened. The dr. referred me to a cardiologist (and what is worse, I had no insurance) who put me on a holter monitor, which was scary. I did not continue, nor did I get any test results from the monitor as I could not afford a cardiologist on my grocery store salary. I just assumed that if it was something bad, then they would tell me regardless. They never called.
A year later in 2001, I was sitting at a friends house one morning in between job interviews, playing around with a Rubiks Cube. Then all of a sudden it hit me. Swimming head, lighheadedness, nausea, tingling in my arms hand and feet, chest pains, difficulty breathing.it was like nothing I have ever experience in my life. I was sure I was having a heart attack. I went to the bathroom as I didn't want to freak out in front of my friend, and when I was in there, I really felt like I was going to pass out. So I stepped outside and sat in the hallway and told him to call 911. He was reluctant as he did not want the neighbors to think "weird" about him or something, but he eventually did and I was take to the emergency room. There they did some test, which all came out fine, even the EKG, and they gave me some medicine that made the lamp come to life and talk to me. It did relax me A LOT, but was still weird....I found out later it was a hefty dose of Atavan! :)
I was told that I had an anxiety/panic attack and that I should see my regular doctor, which I did. He told me that I had Generalized Anxiety Disorder with acute panic syndrome (since it was not related to any particular trigger). He prescribed me Effexor XR, Tofranil, and Atavan (which quickly got changed to Xanax since I hallucinated something fierce on atavan). The next 2 - 3 months were like hell on earth for me. This was all new to me, so sudden, and I was really freaked out.
Eventually the effexor started to work, but I HATED the side effects. I certainly wasn't anxious that much anymore, but I wasn;t anything else either, I wasn't happy, sad, worried, etc. I was just...there. I still had no insurance and $90 a month was a bit much for me to handle, especially since I couldn;t hold a job that long due to my anxiety. At times, I found myself out of Effexor and having horrible horrible withdrawal effects. There were even a couple of instances where I went to the pharmacy and begged them to give me just one pill so I could have another day to find some money. Believe it or not this worked! One day I thought about it and was really disgusted - I was a slave to my medicine and not much better than an addict at that point. I decided then and there that I was going to stop all but the Xanax for good. It was only masking my symptoms and not allowing me to deal with the major issue at hand.
Altough it was hard, I eventually got used to not having the medicine and only used (and still use) the Xanax when it is absolutely necessary and when I cannot work through my episodes. I am down to taking half a .5 mg pill when needed and a bottle of 20 now usually lasts me 2-3 months. I have done A LOT of research over the past few years on the subject and a lot of self-reflection. When I did have insurance, I went to see a psyshologist. Although he was really nice and he had some good ideas, I eventually stopped going because I felt that we were just going over many things that I was already well aware of and in-tune with.
I got married in 2003 and left my old life behind. I have not seen many of my friends since my wedding day and while I miss some of them, I do not miss the life. I have not done any drugs in the past 5 years and do not miss them as they were not helping my anxiety that much. It was so easy to do - a lot easier than I thought. My only vice now is cigarettes (which I desperatly want to quit and hope to really do it in the next couple of months). Now my life is very "normal" , stable, and for the most part happy. My only source of unhappiness is my anxiety.
I feel like I have gotten a lot better. It is true that I still have anxiety almost on a daily basis, but my panic attacks have all but went away. I have had maybe 2 or three small ones in the past few years. My anxiety has also dimished from the level that it used to be, but maybe it is just that I am dealing with it better, I do not know.
However, I have found that while my daily heavy anxiety is moderating, I have noticed that I have developed some other ths as a direct result of this disorder. I find myself anxious almost all the time when I am in public around a lot of people, I am really a hypochondriac as well (which is probably my worst symptom next to the anxiety). I am just really tired and sick of this at this point in my life. My kids are getting to the point where they want to do many things that cause me anxiety and I do not want to disappoint them by not particpating, so I force myself to do so in most cases.
I here to join and talk with others with the same things as I have in an attempt to move even further away from this disorder. I feel I have come a long way, but that I may be stuck in a rut right now and need something new to get me to that next level. If you have made it this far in my story, you will realize that I far surpassed the "little" that was listed beside the box here! My book should hit stores in spring 2009! Just kidding, although many people say I should write one, both about this and all of my "stories" from my late teens/early 20s. Many strange things have happened around me - maybe I will share when it is appropriate. Maybe one day I will write something, but I always think "Why would anyone ever want to read about what happened to me?"
Well, there are a million of people with your name on FB, but only one you here... :)
Interesting that you are on the migraine forum as well... and I appreciated your post from September having to do with faith and fear of death. I struggle with this from time to time. Too bad we didn't have this discussion at MU, but it probably wouldn't have stayed on track anyway. How are things now, Mike?
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