At the age of 23 years old I suffered my first panic attack at work in New York City. My heart was racing, my palms were sweaty and had a desperate feeling of wanting to leave the office. Traveling on the subway system made my anxiety much worse as I commuted to my job.
I felt like I was losing my mind, so I was isolated at work. I had a hard time with fellow co-workers who didn’t understand my anxiety and awkwardness towards them. My anxiety led to other issues such as lack of self esteem, depression, and social phobia. I felt alone and couldn’t really express myself to others and when I did, they would make comments like its all in your head, snap out of it.
I was wondering why this was happening to me, why couldn’t I be normal like everyone else. I started to close myself off because i was afraid of making a fool out of myself due to my awkwardness around others.
My family tried to help by telling me that I had to fight these emotions I was feeling that I needed to get out in the world and stop isolating myself from others because it would make it worse. In my heart I knew what they were telling me was true, but my fear took over more and more each day. I became a recluse not attending family functions and not really socializing with no one other than a few friends that I had.
I created an isolated world for myself, I had made rules up for traveling in New York City, such as avoiding the subway system and taking express buses and cabs everywhere in the City. Of course, it was more costly for me, but it was the only way I felt I could get to work. Overtime, I began to get to work late over delays in traffic and eventually lost my job. I tried working some other jobs in retail and office jobs but could not get over my fears and anxiety. I could not really function at my jobs so I eventually stopped working.
For years, I struggled working odd jobs and selling stuff on platforms. I mainly took care of my elderly parents who were physically ill for years. I could not live in New York City anymore so I eventually moved to Ocala Florida with my parents.
I moved to Ocala, Florida in 2004 where I seeked professional psychiatric help, for years I have been receiving medications for my anxiety. It really didn’t make me feel any better, I still felt the abnormal fear of saying or doing the wrong thing in front of others. I remained isolated for years to the point that I lost the little social skills I still had. I would stare at people or try not to look at them directly. This made me feel even worse because I felt like I was making others feel really bad and that was the last thing I ever wanted to do.
This affected my relationships with family and friends. I would not visit or see family for years. As for friendships, I would avoid social functions such as going out with them to places like restaurants, or parties that I was invited to. I didn’t want to make a fool out of myself due to lack of socialization.
Years had passed and I had lived a life of loneliness because I never married nor had children. I lived with my parents who I took care of due to their illnesses. In 2010, I lost my mom due to congestive heart failure. I remained with my dad for 9 years until, he finally passed away in 2019.
For the first time I was truly alone although I had my younger sister who lived in New York. I remained in Ocala, Fl. where my father’s friends and neighbors really helped me during this difficult time. They knew about my struggles with my mental health, but they did not leave me alone instead they continued to reach out to me and never give up on me.
They would invite me to social functions despite me turning them down, they continued until one day. My neighbor asked me a question and asked what I was so afraid of. I told them I didn’t feel like I had the social skills to compart with others and not make them feel weird. My neighbor said why should I care about what others think about me. She said that I should not think that way because all it has done is affect my life negatively. She said no one should be alone in life and that was what I was doing to myself.
I started to take small steps to go out more, I would go shopping with my neighbor to thrift shops. Eventually, started to visit my neighbors' homes and attend small friendly functions such as dinners. I started to visit places I hadn’t been to in years such as church, and shopping malls.
It wasn’t until 2023, this year that I have had a reawakening of sorts. It has taken me years to get here because for a long time I let my fears take over my entire life. I never tried new things nor finished things that I started. Now I feel as if I have a new lease on life. I have made newer friends and have joined more events in my community. For anyone who has struggled with mental illness and thinks that you are not alone. You have to realize that life is short and we don’t have enough time on this earth. Don’t let time takeover and rob you of life. Take those small steps to reintegrate yourself into society, don’t be afraid. Look to others for strength such as family and friends or to spiritual strength.
At the age of 54, I learned that I have let almost my entire life pass me by and that I am no longer letting that happen to me ever again.
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About the Creator
I like writing short stories and poetry. I like to blog about thrifting and many other subjects. I hope you enjoy my writing. Read my blog at www.savingshouse.blogspot.com and visit my website at www.vintageoldtreasures.com