Being a Black Woman Hiding From the World

Being a Black Woman Hiding From the World

by Shanean Henry

My name is Shanean and I'm a 48-year-old African American woman struggling with anxiety. Every day is a game of beating the clock because I constantly avoid people. The first time I became aware of my tendency was after my live-in boyfriend physically assaulted me a month after giving birth to our daughter.

My mental and physical state was so strained but I could not find time to show weakness because I was a mother of two and needed to get back to work in 2 weeks. It was at this time I noticed I could not stand for people to be close to me. I would have panic attacks, feeling hot itchy and unable to breathe.

Fortunately, I was trained to operate a machine in a workstation with only two other coworkers. This allowed me to function with my anxiety. I was with this company for over 10 years and at every meeting and company event, I would hide when possible; that's why I'm not in any company photos.

My condition worsened during my breakup with another boyfriend who stalked me and kicked my door off its hinges while I was sleeping after working overtime on a Saturday night. I awoke with him standing over me and my sleeping daughter. Luckily for us, my son came home early because he said he felt like I needed him. Unaware of the night's event to come, I did need him. My son called the police that night when he heard the door being kicked down.

I really became a hermit and wasn't even able to shop in crowded stores without having panic attacks. I would walk off and leave the cart to rush outside to gasp for air. Anxiety affects my health, my family, and basically my entire life. I reached out to ADAA because I really wanted to let people know that they are not alone.

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