Thursday, May 17, 2007

My Story

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.

My hard work payed off so now eating in public is no longer a trigger. However new triggers have popped up as my life changes. Using positive affirmations, deep breathing exercises, yoga, journaling, medication, and analyzing my negative thoughts have all played a roll in helping me to return to a healthy weight and to better manage my anxiety and panic attacks. I may not be cured from anxiety but it doesn’t consume my every thought in life like it used to. Occasionally I’ll have setbacks, but I believe any adversity has valuable lessons if we look for them. Anxiety is by far the hardest trial I have in my life, but because of it I know I am stronger, deeper, more compassionate, and a better person.

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.

50 comments:

mejonesin said...

You are so incredibly strong and courageous. Just know that having this out in public can help many others that are having a tough time with similar issues. You write beautifully, and I am truly a big fan. I support whatever you do.

Cynthia Blue said...

Aimee! No way I didn't know you had SA too! I saw your incoming link and check this out. We have a lot in common, I think. :) Now I'll read your post. ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi! As I read your story, I identified completely. Lately I have been suffering from anxiety, and I have had severe anxiety attacks whenever eating was involved, but only around strangers or certain social scenes, never around my family or when eating alone. I would get so nauseuos that I ended up having to get up and not being able to eat. It is the worst feeling in the world, and dreading these situations would only make the episodes worse. Surfing the Internet I finally put a name on my condition, reaffirmed by a psyquiatrist I visited this week. My family suffers from anxiety and panic disorder as well, although I hadn´t found anything like my particular situation until now:panic around food. I also agree on your comment about pointing out how skinny you are. people just don´t get it. Thank you for your story. I am currently on Alprazolam and Seropram. I´m glad I seeked out treatment and hope it works out.

Emily said...

I just stumbled upon this site in search of anxiety answers and THIS BLOG DESCRIBES ME COMPLETELY!!! I have never met anyone else who has the problem of eating in front of people! I'm so excited!!! I always just thought I was a weirdo and now I know I'm not! I could just cry right now cause i'm so happy! :-)

Julie said...

Aimee, thank you so much for sharing your story and your journey. I can't tell you how much I appreciate finding your blog. I can relate to the hurtful comments of being thin, of the physical ways than anxiety can manifest itself in our lives, how it can consume our minds, and the struggle of trying to be a person that you think others will think well of - and I can't forget the tendency to be a perfectionist! This week I am struggling with it all (it's been an ongoing thing for several years now), feeling so overwhelmed and frustrated. I want to take some more time to read through your entries. Please continue to write and to share. Your transparency inspires me, and the way you work on pinpointing triggers and work through your thought processes. Keep on keeping on! :o)

Claude said...

Dear Aimée, it is such a pleasure to read your blog. I have been dealing with anxiety for the past 25 years. Sometimes it feels so lonely dealing with these unpleasant emotions, but so many things you write I find so totally helpful ! Thanks for sharing some of your life with us. I will be back reading and commenting your posts from here on.

I read your long post on morning anxiety last night and had some food as soon as I woke up this morning. It is 8am and I feel calm as I was last night when I went to bed. Some basic things are so important !

Thanks

Anonymous said...

omg this is so frightening! i read it and i thought...this could have been written by me, its EXACTLY how i feel, i mean almost to the 100% point and i threw up 2day due to the anxiety of food getting to me and am currently sitting here dreading dinner with the family in which i seem to gulp down endless glasses of juice so i dont heave or something when im chewing. I get rele scared of work socials and i have always been accussed of being too thin and always look at myself and hate it because i cant gain weight even tho, when this anxietys less,i actually eat a lot more than most ppl who can get so much bigger than i can. i have such a distorted self image and am worried every1s gona think im aneroxic if i dont finish my plate and i can work myself up into a frenzy over it so i heave and throw up. wow! i hate that we experience so much pain and wish we didnt have to but its great to have some1 2 share it with. i know a few ppl who have suffered aneroxia in the past but its not the same thing its almost like the opposite cuz we rele wana gain weight! please contact me xxxxxxxxxx

Aimée said...

Claude,

I am so glad you have found useful information here. The morning anxiety seems to affect a lot of people! Its the most common search that leads people to this blog. You are definitely not alone!

Anonymous,

I would love to contact you but I have no way to. Do you have an email address? You can reach me at aimilino01@gmail.com and we can chat. As unfortunate as it is, I love to hear of people that feel like I do because than I don't feel so alone. I hope your dinner goes well tonight. The key is to eat only what you want. If your not hungry because of the anxiety, then don't eat. The hard part is learning to not care what other people may think of you for doing that. I'm still working on that part. I also found that just being honest helps to eliminate some anxiety. If your feeling nauseous just say so. Tell your family that you get anxiety sometimes in social situations and they will understand. I learned that people are more loving than I give them credit for. Thanks for the comments!

Anonymous said...

Okay, do u have msn? i can add you to that and we could talk more if you like. when is best for you? if your free to talk tonight after 10pm i'd be really happy to talk. i understand what you mean, its not that i am happy to have someone else suffer just i can rarely talk to people about this and my family dont understand, i even get sick with them, when its rele bad its all the time, doesnt matter who it is, even alone, thats y i feel utter crap. ahh dinner now, wish me luck!

Auren said...

This is a beautiful and powerful story. If possible, i would like to feature it on my blog http://stressandanxietyfree.blogspot.com. We hope to compile stories of how people have coped with anxiety and stress on our blog, and we would be glad to link to your site as well :-) Let me know! email me at stressandanxietyfree@gmail.com, name is Auren.

megan v said...

Wow. I just discovered your blog and I am really amazed to read what you said. All along - I've been trying to deal with these issues I had thinking it was just something weird in me - and it turns out that I am not alone. Not just the anxiety thing... I know some people have that.. but the eating thing?! My gosh!! For SO many years I have been dealing with trying to eat in front of others and at restaurants and I never ever can without feeling anxious and only being able to eat a few bites and sip my water before feeling really sick. And I am always so envious of everyone else who goes out to dinner with friends and eats amazing meals and has a great time! I'm always dreading it and waiting for it to be over with. I'm going to keep reading through your blog because it's really helping me come to terms with my feelings! I missed work for an entire week due to some (now I know) panic attack I was having - was thinking I was having some sort of stomach problem. They even took my blood, tested to see if I was pregnant and gave me antacids. Finally the dr gave me buspar and hopefully that will help? Do you know? It's a mild generalized anxiety drug.
Keep in touch I'd love to hear from you.

Anonymous said...

God, I've been looking up facts on anxiety and this fits me completely. I'm 15 years old and have been going through so much lately that I think I'm starting to have anxiety. I fit almost all of the symptoms, and then some. Thank you sooo much.

Cal said...

wow your blog is great!!!
i feel that understanding why i have my anxiety was a good way that helped me get rid of it. overcoming anxiety was the best thing that i ever did!

AP said...

Thanks for sharing your story.

Anonymous said...

Aimee. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us all. I'm 18 and i've suffered from general anxiety since i've been about 6. I've recently found out int he past 3 years that I have anxiety even though i've had it for much longer. We have a lot in common. Though i don't throw up i get very sick to the stomache. Anxiety is much worse than people will ever know! I'm surrently writing a book about my experiences. You've inspired me. Thank you =]

Anonymous said...

Hi Aimee,

Thank you so much. I am a 56 year old woman who has had GAD all my life, but just was given a name for it about 3 years ago. I share the morning anxiety with you, and it is so difficult. I also am on Zoloft and take an Ativan to help me sleep if needed. I see a therapist, but I really wish there was a way to be cured, or at least to find out how to deal with it much much better. Thank you for your openness.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I've never done any type of blog before. My anxiety went sky-high when I had to start a new job-teaching 8th grade special ed. This was due to severe financial issues in our family, and I was forced to quit a (lower paying) job that I absolutely loved. So, I was grieving over leaving the previous job, and overwhelmed and scared of the responsibility involved in my new job. Anxiety is with me 16 hours a day. I only feel good when I sleep. I am so scared of making mistakes on the job, or insulting someone, or not following a correct procedure, or being reprimanded by my principal or another supervisor. It just haunts me all the time. I feel so guilty, crying so much, especially in front of my teenage boys, who are very affected by their mom's huge behavior change. I am on Xanax (3 a day). I hope that this helps. I'm worried about its addictive qualities.

Richard Taylor said...

Wow, im so glad i found your blog. I've been struggling with anxiety for as long as i can remember.

Mine is kept at bay with seroxat (Paxil) but when i start to come off it, one issue can set off a permanent state of anxiety.

Its horrible, and hardly anyone i know understands :(

thanks for all your blog posts, i intend on following it very closely.

all the best

Rich (UK)

Leigh M said...

So glad to have found your blog. I am curious at the similarities of stories. I have been painfully thin all my life. I don't have issues eating in front of people, but my anxiety does negatively affect my appetite. Just not hungry when I'm dealing with anxiety and depression. I get very hurt by the skinny comments and always think "Would you be saying this to me if I were heavy" I also get the "Youre so lucky" comments. I would trade being thin in second to not be anxious anymore! It's really starting to hurt my family!

Anne--simplesunflower@gmail.com said...

I just stumbled upon your blog, and I just wanted to leave a comment and let you know that you are a very strong person for sharing your troublesome experiences. I relate so much to the things you have said, and I still have so much to read! I am the opposite of you...I have been overweight my entire life. When I first saw your picture on here I thought, "wow, she's so pretty!" It's hard for me to realize that people that are so pretty on the outside can have problems in the inside. I have huge fears about my looks, and also about my intelligence. Of course I assume it all links back to my childhood and my trouble in school, but it has caused major anxiety in my life. I also have panic attacks, too, though thankfully not too often. I am excited to read more of your blog, and I'm thinking about starting my own blog. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I hope you continue to improve and love yourself as much as you can. You deserve it!! :) ---Anne :)

Robert Hamilton said...

Great blog. I just happened to find yours while I was doing some research for my new blog. Athough I myself don't suffer from panic attacks, my wife does. I suffer from depression. Hahaha, what a combo the two of us. Lol. I do take Zoloft for it. At any rate, I just wanted to compliment you. It is one of the best blogs I've seen, inviting and warm, and certainly not "medical" looking. I should borrow a few tips from you.

Keep up the good work!

Alice said...

I randomly came across your site a few weeks ago and have been a "lurker". I decided it was finally time to comment and let you know how much I appreciate your blog. I completely relate with you regarding anxiety, panic attacks, and the weight issue. I look forward to reading more from you.

Aimée said...

I haven't been the best at responding to comments on here, I apologize for that. But I am so glad for all of the warm messages left from all of you. (Auren, megan V, Cal, AP, Richard Taylor, Leigh M, Anne, Robert Hamilton, and all of the Anonymous posters and finally Alice) I am so glad that you are able to relate and I hope you find information that helps you to be happier. If you have any questions feel free to ask. Thanks for all of your support and encouragement!

Bhavik Shah said...

Hey Aimee,

After reading some of your blog articles at Anxious No More, we were particularly impressed by the quality of the information you’ve produced and your style of writing. We believe that your thoughts and advice in the area of Anxiety will be an invaluable resource to thousands of our Reclaim Happiness Blog readers, and seek to create an opportunity where you can expand your reader base and make an even larger positive impact through your writings.

I would appreciate it if you could contact me at b.j.shah@reclaimhappiness.com to discuss things further. Thanks!

Romina said...

I recently started having "morning anxiety" this year, I had no idea that it was something that other people actually have as well. thank you for your posts, they are incredibly helpful.

Anonymous said...

My take on this site, incessant monologues and content:

ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, Me, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME.

ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME.

Hardly interesting and certainly not helpful.

Yes, management of any condition is crucial and continual. But until you address the underlying events and sources....forget it.

Your daily doodlings and cake talk are a disservice as the fake smiles and cute fonts mask any acknowledgment of underlying issues. It's denial in my opinion.

Yes, affirmations are great. Coping mechanisms are great. Some therapies are great. Anything that helps and is healthy is a positive direction.

What concerns me is your self branded character is simply that, unsubstantiated unvalidated diary entries making lite of a real medical condition.

This site should be renamed: "MY reality of MY anxiety".

Any person in search of real data and hopeful of achieving real results (founded on medical data and empirical research) should avoid this site.

M.

John said...

I'm really impressed with your blog. I'm a guy who has suffered with anxiety and depression for eleven years now. I, too, have the same phobias and symptoms you do. It's really precluded me from doing the stuff I'd like to do like date, or even eat comfortably in social situations.

I have the Anxiety & Phobia Workbook you talk about, as well as a slew of other books. I'm also tackling the Attacking Anxiety and Depression program from Lucinda Bassett. Have you tried this program yet? It's not bad!

I'm glad that your panic is now touch and go. I'm on 200mg of Zoloft and 1mg tab of Clonazepam and still have trouble, though it takes the edge off. Mornings and mealtimes are still my worst periods though. At night, I'm usually just fine.

Sorry to prattle on, but I just wanted to say the above and let you know your blog offers a lot of insight into this problem. Thanks!

John

Jade said...

OK then. Hopefully my comment will counteract that last one. Don't listen to that garbage, Aimee. Maybe he/she is right though. If people are looking for results "founded on medical data and empirical research", they shouldn't come here. This site is full of heart and personal tales and love. Science can state facts, but the community response found on this page is far greater than any other I've ever seen on any other anxiety-related websites and so much more helpful in the long run, too. (And believe me, I've searched through many...obsessively at times. Haha.) Keep writing. We need you!

Chris said...

What a great blog you have here. I too am from Utah and am active in my church.

I'm glad you are making your anxiety public, I find that this is one of the best ways for me to deal with mine.

If you don't mind I plan to link to your blog from mine.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Aimee. Thank you so much. Your honesty is helping me and so many others.
Stay well and strong, and know how much good you are doing.

Melissa said...

I just found your blog Aimee, and can't wait to read more. I've never really dealt with anxiety before and it came on out of the blue about a week ago. Right now I'm scared but I hope that reading your blog will be helpful. Thank you.

Anita said...

Anxiety is a symptom of many things. It is also one of the symptoms of hypothyroidism. I am taking porcine thyroid four months ago and now I can feel the complete changes. This natural meds gets rid of this symptoms.

Anonymous said...

Abby w.

I have never been diagnosed with anxiety but I know for a fact tht I have had it since the first time went To my friends house at age 7 the anxiety occured and I had to leave their house because I felt sick I also have anxiety a little in school I'm not talkative there because sometimes I think negative responses will occur and what I also find extremely disturbing is that sometimes in the middle of the night I'll feel sick and have to hurl it gets so bad tht I get shivers and tears go out of my eyes I usually just yell to (could this be connected to lack of sleep )my mom can I have a bowl even just yelling hurts when I'm sick however I get this weak feeling and I can't get up without being dizzy sooo is this bad I'm 14 years old

Anonymous said...

Keep up the great work, it is really helping me when I am feeling little hope xx

Melissa Puli said...

Hi! My name is Melissa and I found your blog while drafting some thoughts on my own next blog entry which will be about my own experience with anxiety! Thanks for a great site! Hope you'll follow me! Thanks, Melissa (melissapuliphotography.blogspot.com)

Tiula said...

Hey Aimee,
Can't tell you enough how grateful I am that I stumbled across your blog. For ages now I thought that I was just rubbish in social situations (particularly around eating), that everyone else felt the same way, and that everyone else was better at it. I'm so grateful for your wonderful blog because I identify exactly with all the symptoms you wrote. Thank you thank you thank you! I'm working now at dealing with it, you've changed my life to a state that I can now live with this.

tracy.rose@healthline.com said...

Hi Aimée,

Healthline editors recently published the final list of their favorite Anxiety blogs and your blog made the list. You can find the complete list at: http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/best-anxiety-blogs (in no particular order). We encourage you to share your status as one of the best blogs on the web with your friends, family, & followers.

We also created a set of badges you can easily embed on your site & anywhere else you see fit:

http://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety-badges

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Congrats & continue the great work!

Warm Regards,
Tracy

Aimee said...

Aimee,
Just stumbled upon your blog. I can't wait to dig more into it. I found it ironic that you struggle with anxiety and your name is Aimee. That is my name as well. Same spelling. My mom always told me about how it was french and why she picked that name purposely for me. I also have struggled with anxiety. I have learned some amazing things over the years and for the most part I have overcome, but there are often areas that pop up in my life and I realize I am still learning to tackle that tendency. Anyway, I would love to feature you on my blog. It is about natural health as well as physical health. Let me know if you are interested and we can discuss more details. All the best to you.

Brandon said...


Aimee,

I greatly admire your honesty and courage in publishing this blog. I have struggled with anxiety and connect with a lot of the issues you bring up. Inspired by my anxiety I developed an anti-anxiety tool online. If you have time I would greatly appreciate your review.

Best,
Brandon

Anxiety Self Treatment

PS
If you like this tool I'd like to offer your blog readers a free 6 month subscription. You can reach me at https://www.anxietyselftreatment.com/contact-us/ - just mention my name in the subject and it will get to me - thanks!

Lindsay said...

Thank you so much for sharing you're story. I'm always so amazed at how personal and individual people's anxieties are. I look forward to reading more of your blog.

Thomas Cremers said...

As you heard already countless times, it all sounds very familiar! I've been dealing with it now for close to 20 years.
As so many others I have started blogging about it, though I'm convinced these days that developing a sense of humor about it is the way to go :-) Good luck with your writing and if you're interested in my view you can find me at GAD and Sexy

Best,
Thomas

Aaron Anderson said...

Aimee,

You are doing a very good thing here. Anxiety runs in my family and I suffered for years. Through trial and error, I was finally able to overcome anxiety and depression completely. I realize you have a lot going on, but I wanted to give you a book I wrote on my experience overcoming anxiety and depression without medication.

The book is called "Discovering Light: 12 Steps to Overcoming Anxiety and Depression without Medication". You can view it at Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_18?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=discovering+light+anxiety&sprefix=discovering+light+%2Caps%2C280

Email me at: discoveringlight2012@gmail.com and I will send you a free copy of the book for you to read and review. From the looks of your blog, you share a lot of things I do in the book, but I think there may be a couple more things that can help your readers.

Thank you for what you are doing. Perhaps I can feature you in a podcast or my blog in the future.

Aaron

Katie Sherburne said...

Hi Aimee,

I found your blog when I googled traveling anxiety since I have it, big time. I am going from Boston to Philadelphia this weekend (a 6 hour car ride with a stop overnight in NY) and I'm super anxious. I had a terrible panic attack in Central Park where the overwhelming feeling was "I need to be home right now" and I couldn't be because I was four hours from home. Since then I have been afraid to be away from home and this will be the farthest I've gone. I'm determined not to let anxiety limit me, but it's still so awful to go through. Finding you made me feel like there are other people out there who know what it's like and just knowing that helps so much. Thank you for sharing your life with us!

- Katie

Anonymous said...

Thank you so so much for writing this blog. I first found your post on traveling with anxiety, and it rang so true for me I started to cry out of the blue. I haven't been able to put any of these feelings in words yet, but I'll be taking along a copy of your positive affirmations to help me through my next trip.

J

Lady Esther said...

my anxiety is like this now too. i am breathing through the nausea right now. People don't take it serious because its seen more as a mental health issue.

twinsmom said...

OMG...Don't get me wrong but it is so nice to know that I am not alone. I started having these episodes while going through divorce. Actually, being in one of those parenting classes (very emotional) started it. I was to the point that I couldn't drive or focuse on anything. I don't have this nausea you are describing but mine is more dizziness and this out of focuse state that is driving me crazy. I've been telling my dr that I am just like out of focuse camera. It comes and goes and I can never tell what triggers it and when it's going to hit me next time. I already have my heart and head checked to rule out other problems. And every specialist I go to tells me it is anxiety. Very frustrating because I am to the point when I am afraid to plan anything. I'll have a good week or even a month and just out of nowhere it hits me again. I am going on vacation with my boys at the end of June. Really hoping for the best...So glad to find this blog. Hopefully, it will help me to find some kind tools that will work for me.

Alicia P said...

I am so glad I found this blog. I have been struggling with anxiety since I was a teenager. It was the worst it's ever been about a year ago and then I came out of it. I'm starting to feel it again and I'm so scared it is going to be as bad as it was a year ago and ruin my relationships again. I look forward to reading your tips!

Nature Girl said...

Hello!
I just came across your blog especially because i was googling "panic attack on birthday".
So you know you are not the only one. I can SO relate to you! Glad to know that I'm not the only one either.

Do keep in touch,
it would mean a lot to me! All one can do is support the other..

Thanks! :)

Naomi said...

Hi Aimee!

I'm not sure if you use this blog anymore, but just wanted to thankyou for writing about your journey. I struggle with depression, general anxiety and social phobia and your story has really encouraged me. Are we able to chat?

Thanks,
Naomi :)

Aimée said...

Hi Naomi,

Thank you for your kind words! I am always available to chat- you can email me at aimilino01@gmail.com or you can join the facebook support group where there are 500 plus anxiety sufferers that are online 24/7.

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