It started at the onset of puberty, when I was 11 years old. I was at school, watching my older sister load the school bus to be taken away to 6th-grade camp. Suddenly a wave of panic overcame me. I don't recall my physical symptoms other than a racing heart and nausea.
From that day forward I have continued to struggle with anxiety and panic attacks. It went from that initial wave of anxiety to agoraphobia for months on end. I was put on medication (specifically Zoloft), which “cured” me of my agoraphobia so I could go back to school.
My father is an alcoholic who would physically abuse my sisters and me, including providing little food. He didn’t want to work, so my mom did and was gone most of the time. He did not allow us to have friends or any kind of social interaction outside our home. It was his decision to homeschool us but I retained little, if anything, he taught us. In 10th grade I switched to another medication (Paxil) when the first one wore off. I’m now 25 years old, and I've been on it ever since, but it's been an uphill battle, although most days are good.
When my mom finally had enough of my father, she left. She tried to take us with her, but my father intervened. It felt like pure abandonment when she went to live with her parents, even though she was fighting desperately to gain custody of us. When she was finally awarded full custody, we ended up living with her and my grandparents, and our world was a thousand times better. But the damage stayed with me—and has to this day.
Now I’m trying to get off medication so I can have a baby. It's been tough, and I've experienced many setbacks, but I haven't given up. I am sure that being a highly sensitive person, having gone through a traumatic and insecure childhood, and my genetic predisposition to mental illness are all factors that feed my anxiety.
However, the main thing I've learned is to make sure my life has stability and security. I hope that over time fear will no longer interfere with my life.