My Battle with Anxiety

My Battle with Anxiety

by Syeda Khan

Unable to swallow, throat suddenly closed, heart beating very fast, and my body shaking; what had happened to me all of a sudden? Eating dinner at a restaurant with my family, and while eating dinner all of a sudden I’m unable to eat. I was thinking to myself this must be a food allergy, nothing like this ever happened to me before. My family took me to the emergency room right away also thinking it was a food allergy too, turns out we were all wrong. It was an anxiety attack.

I’ve always been a worrier, constantly worrying about things left and right. Worrying about my grades in school, worrying about how to please my parents, and of course worrying about my future. It didn’t help that I came from a family with lots of successful wealthy people, it just put more pressure on me to be just like them; which of course made me worry about how I was going to get there.

I had never learned to relax myself, I only learned how to put pressure on myself. Eventually putting too much pressure on myself turned into me having a full blown anxiety attack at the restaurant, which in turn led to my ER visit. The night that I got home from my ER visit, I wasn’t able to sleep at all at night, my heart was beating super fast, my throat was feeling dry, and my body was shaking uncontrollably. For the next couple of days those symptoms continued, along with that I wasn’t really able to eat anything due to my throat being closed. Every time I tried to swallow my food my throat kept closing up. I tried to relax myself by watching tv, drawing, and exercising, but I was unable to relax or concentrate on any of these activities, I just kept feeling anxious.

Finally my parents and I decided it was best for me to go to my primary care and start on medication. My doctor decided to start me on Lexapro, when the doctor prescribed me the medication she told me when I would first start on the medication that my symptoms would be a little worse before it would get better. Indeed my doctor was right, when I started on the Lexapro I was still feeling anxious, my throat dry as the dessert, my body still shaking uncontrollably, still unable to eat or sleep at night.

Finally after a couple of days of taking the medication I became very sleepy during the day all of a sudden and was able to get a good night's rest. Lexapro helped to prevent any further attacks from happening, I was able to eat, sleep well at night, my body wasn’t shaking uncontrollably, and it also helped me to relax. In addition I also learned that exercise and maintaining a healthy diet was very important, in fact a poor diet and no exercise can contribute to making anxiety a lot worse. I was on Lexapro for about a year, after that my doctor took me off the medication.

Today I still struggle with anxiety, my battle is still not over. However I have learned to find coping skills to help me reduce my anxiety. Coping skills such as journaling have helped me to reduce my anxiety; writing has helped me to reduce my stress and calm me down. If I ever feel an anxiety attack is coming, I make sure to take big deep breaths and exhale slowly, I make sure to also remind myself that I am going to be okay. And instead of worrying about the future, I remind myself to take it one day at a time; I tell myself to focus on what's present in the moment rather than what’s going to come later down the road.

I reached out to ADAA to publish my story because mental health issues have become a problem in my South Asian Muslim community. We are taught to sweep these things under the rug and not get help. Looking through the ADA website, such as reading stories, helps me in my journey and most definitely makes me know that I’m not alone!

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