In 2014, I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder. Although I received the diagnosis when I was twenty-seven, it was something I always struggled with. In my book, Conquering Mountains, I share the experiences I have had that led to this diagnosis. From the age of six when I heard the sound of my dad’s mighty right hand striking my mother. To the worries of where we would live after evictions. The stress of moving from place to place, year after year. By the time I graduated from high school we moved about eighteen times. By the time I graduated college, it was closer, if not, into the thirties. From the worries I had walking through the hallways of my high school, sliding my feet across the floor, so that my peers would not see the holes in the bottom of my sneakers. The stress of trying not to ignite my father’s anger again, after I felt the power and strength of his right hand after a little league baseball game. Many prayers were made in hopes that we would be blessed with the funds to get the lights turned on. So we would have heat in the winters.
Even in college, there was the anxiety of trying to fit into a school where no one was like me, or rather experienced what I did. I had very few sober nights, trying to relieve the enormous amounts of anxiety for those five years. I found myself standing on the edge of my dorm room building hoping the anxiety would end. It felt like there was no escaping what I had no clue I was dealing with. I do not even remember learning about what anxiety was until I got into grad school and began studying.
It was not until I began studying the mental health concerns our young people come to school with. When I got to anxiety I remember thinking, “Man, this sounds like me!” But I still was not convinced to go see someone. Not until I had a panic attack over ketchup. Yes, ketchup!
My wife and I went to try out a new fast-food restaurant in our local mall. Just the thought of being around so many people at one time triggered my anxiety. I was moving so fast through the food court my wife could not keep up. I was trying to get in, and get out as fast as possible. My wife is the type of person that has to have the condiments from the restaurant she gets her food from. Me on the other hand, if they forget to put ketchup or bbq sauce in the bag, I can get that at home. We ordered our food, which was philly cheesesteaks, and like any other sandwich place, you order at one end and pick up at the other. The nervousness and fear I had of my insecurities being on display for people to see, always left me very anxious of being embarrassed. People were going in and out of the line, reaching over and behind me. Once our order was called, I nearly started sprinting for the exit. That is when my wife checked her bag and said, “Man they forgot to give me ketchup.” Having to turn around and go back, even though we were only a few feet away, sent me into a pure meltdown right in the middle of the food court. “What, You need ketchup? Baby we can get ketchup at home!” “Please, I can’t go back, I gotta get out of here!” My wife, as sweet as she is, hugged me, put her hand on my shoulder and walked me out of the mall. After that, I went to counseling.
I had a great deal of childhood trauma that led to my struggles with anxiety. I wrote my book in hopes of sharing my testimony with others.
I have always believed there are three types of people in the world: those who have been through it, those who are going through it, and those who are about to go through it. It is my hope and prayer that hearing my struggles with anxiety, and how I continue to push through its barriers, will inspire others to do the same.
That’s what has led me to become the first male in my entire family to graduate from college, to be the first in my immediate family to buy a home, raised the bar for generations to come by getting a master’s degree in School Counseling, and now being the first to write a book! I am so thankful for God guiding me through and putting the right people in my life to encourage me to conquer my mountains. I only hope to help others do the same.
Which is why I wanted to share my story with the members of the Anxiety & Depression Association of America. I have been further equipped to endure and conquer the moments when I am feeling anxious, by reviewing the insight provided by the ADAA community. It is a remarkable organization where millions of people can gain access to insight and information that will encourage, educate, and edify all who are hoping to better their mental health. In order to support the wonderful work ADAA is doing for the community, 10% of all sales will be donated to the organization. This will help someone get the support they need.
Charles D. Phillips