I also suffer from anxiety myself, though thankfully it is not as debilitating as it once was, and doesn't stop me enjoying a fulfilling life, these days, at the age of fifty. Although I haven't had an acute anxiety attack for many decades, my symptoms used to include terrifying experiences like sleep paralysis, where I would frequently wake up, and be unable to move or speak, with a fear that some impending doom was about to befall me, and I was powerless to do anything about it. It was a miserable time to live through and has left me with a fear that this could return at any time, although statistically, that's highly unlikely. But still, our deepest, most animalistic fears are embedded from childhood, babyhood perhaps, and logic and reasoning do little to take away anxiety about trauma reoccuring.
A greater understanding of anxiety, how common it is - for most of us suffer with some degree of anxiety from time to time - and where it comes from, and what is actually happening to the body during these frightening episodes, helped me to learn strategies for managing my emotions, when I became aware I was starting to feel anxious. The more I managed the anxiety, the less afraid I became and the greater my confidence grew, to the degree where I even write about anxiety in blogs and novels, which I publish, fully aware that someone might dislike what I have written and attack me for it. I guess I've reached a point where my level of self-acceptance is such that my respect for myself, is greater than the respect I might gain or lose from others.
There have been times when the anxiety disappeared almost completely, and this happened whenever I found myself settled, in a secure and permanent relationship.
For me, the early stages of a relationship are not simply exciting, they're also plagued with feelings of uncertainty, as I try to work out if I can really trust this person I'm investing my emotions in, after all, like any other parent, I have my children's happiness and security to consider and prioritise too. Boyfriends who couldn't empathise with my concerns, and had a more easy come, easy go attitude to love, never lasted long with me, and by the time I was forty, I got good at recognising the warning signs and keeping those guys at bay. But even the secure, long term relationships had a habit of failing over time, and then of course, the feelings of anxiety returned.
These days, I don't need medication, or therapy. I'm remarkably happy, given the dreadful times we're living in. But it's important we keep talking about the full spectrum of stress and anxiety and depression, because so many of us would benefit from a deeper understanding and more compassion from society.