Crawling Through Fear

Crawling Through Fear

by Jimmy Lamanna

All my life, I have been suffering through an unknown feeling. At the young age of 7 years old, I was diagnosed with agoraphobia. At the time, I didn't understand such a big word. Nobody does when you are that young. As I grew older, things only felt like they were getting worse.

The longer I went, confused with my thoughts and choices, the more aware I was of anything and everything. I was never able to sleep over at a friend's house, I was too afraid to go out to eat with my own family, and I was extremely nervous of every sports camp I attended. I would make any excuse to ignore these situations. None of this ever made sense to me though. I was begging for an answer.

I searched for help; I went from therapy, medication, vitamins, brain scans, blood drawings and so on. As hard as I tried, nothing seemed to help. I was convinced that there was no answer to the questions I'd been asking myself for years. For a brief period of time I had taken a break from the help I didn't think I needed. The longer I ignored my problems, the worse they got. I had entered a stage of constant panic and depression. I felt as if I was living deja vu every single day. I always thought to myself, "nothing I am living for, means a thing." That way of thinking terrified me, but I still didn't search for help.

I was always the person who cared more for others than I did for myself. In a way, it could be a problem or a blessing. Helping the people I care about brought a smile to my face. Something I would never wish to see is a close one go through the same thing that's been torturing me for years. Part of me felt good but another part felt guilty. I wasn't focusing on my own problems because I was worrying about those of others. I continued to do this and I only hurt myself more. This is where my depression arose.

Every morning into every night, I was mentally weak. I couldn't get myself to eat, I wasn't motivated to exercise, I fell asleep at 3:00 AM and got out of bed at 3:00 PM. All the distractions I tried to give myself didn't work and all I thought about were all the bad things that were made up in my head. This had caused a serious problem in my social and work life. I broke down in tears at my job more than once with no answer as to why. I went on a LOA (leave of absence) on several different occasions because of this.

The more signs that were in front of me, the more I realized that I needed help. I finally gave therapy another chance. I was so tired of relying on a pill to make me feel okay. I was always the person to say that therapy isn't for everyone because it never worked for me. I was wrong. It may take time, but you will find the right therapist—like how I finally found the doctor who made me comfortable enough to open up and to learn from. 

Rather than feeling like they were reading from a script, it felt more genuine and there was a mutual understanding of how we can make things change for the better. A lot of what worked for me is called 'exposure therapy'. Putting yourself through things that normally make you feel uneasy. The more you avoid it, the less you are going to help yourself. Your mind and your body will never change if you don't experience the fear you have. It's a very long and tough process but it's not supposed to come easy.

What I have to say about this is, don't be afraid of the length and the process of how to fix yourself. I wanted to share my story with ADAA so that I could open up and hopefully share similarities of mental health struggles, how things go and where they can lead to. It may take a very long time, but if you think of it, you've suffered for longer. If you can manage to move forward in your darkest days, you can manage in the lighter days to come. Keep a competitive attitude. When you feel like giving up on yourself, think to win. There are many different paths that all lead to the same place. Don't give up if you chose the wrong one—everyone has their way of doing things. I crawled through fear to get where I am today and I couldn't be more pleased with where I am. 

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