My name is Aimée. The spelling is French and it means “beloved” or "the loved one" which is ironic considering I spend much of my time worrying about others not loving me. I worry about it so much that I get anxiety and even panic attacks in many social situations.
Everyone who struggles with anxiety shows different symptoms when the panic sets in. I get a rapid heartbeat, a burning sensation in the back of my neck, a numbing tingling sensation in my arms, and shaky hands. Worst of all, I get nauseous. It starts out as butterflies and if I don’t use any coping strategies such as deep breathing or positive affirmations a full blown panic attack always ends up with me throwing up.
For years I thought I was allergic to certain foods, or that I had a a stomach condition like IBS. Several doctors never pinpointed my symptoms with social anxiety, but just considered it somehow stress related.
On a date in high school I had a panic attack that caused me to throw up in my date’s car on the way home. My date and all his friends called me “Bulimic” for the rest of the year. People would say “Is that all you’re going to eat?” or “You are skin and bones!” Even when I was pregnant people felt they needed to tell me to eat more for me and my growing baby. Several times in my life I have been approached by people that were concerned I had an eating disorder.
So I began to not enjoy eating around others. I got tired of the jokes and the constant worrying that if I didn’t eat enough or perform just right that people might think something was wrong with me or that I had an eating disorder. I started to worry about being judged way before going to any event where eating was required. I was walking into these situations already in a heightened state of anxiety and if something didn’t distract my thoughts, if I focused on it too much, I would end up hurling somewhere, which would only confirm people’s suspicions of me having an eating disorder. A vicious cycle started.
In October of 2006 I was out to eat for my birthday lunch with my coworkers and in the middle of the meal I went to the bathroom and threw it all up. I clearly remember looking in the mirror and thinking “This is not normal. There is something very wrong with me.” That’s when I decided that I needed to do something. I didn’t want to have another birthday like that ever again. That’s when my research began and my diagnosis was made.
After figuring out I had anxiety issues, my eating predicament got a lot worse before it got better. Knowing that anxiety made me throw up only caused me to worry more before any event.
I started losing weight. I knew I needed to eat more and gain weight, and that put pressure on me not just around others, but even when I was all alone. I felt nauseous when mealtime came and who likes to eat when they feel sick? I lost more weight. Each bite became a challenge. When things were at their worst, I weighed 97 pounds and could hardly eat at all and I felt sick with anxiety every day, from the minute I woke up. I knew I needed help outside of myself so I went to the doctor and got put on medication. And that was the turnaround that I needed.
In 2006 I started this blog, The Reality of Anxiety, where I found that I love helping people cope and manage their anxiety by sharing tips that I have learned through my personal experiences. Please know that you are not alone and you can face your fears and live a happy life.