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Elizabeth’s story

I did not appreciate how painful mental health issues could be until my relatively mild depressions turned to severe anxiety.

Share your stigma experience.

Although I had family members who had mental health issues, I did not appreciate how painful they could be until my relatively mild depressions turned to severe anxiety. I had my first panic attack in my mid-thirties, when I was on an airplane. I didn’t know what was happening, I couldn’t figure out why I was so terrified and couldn’t comfort myself. I always loved flying.
I thought everyone who had anxiety issues simply needed to do some yoga and exercise and get good sleep and eat better.

But I had panic attacks repeatedly, and became so anxious I could hardly leave the house even when I was doing yoga, and exercising, and getting sleep and eating well. It made me understand how complex it is.

How did you overcome this experience?

I was able to treat my anxiety and panic disorder with medication. The only good thing was that it opened a whole well of compassion and softness in me. Suddenly I could empathize with my sister, who had worse anxiety issues than I did, and my grandmother I never knew.
Having an anxiety disorder also enabled me to help my students (I’m a teacher) who suffered from anxiety.

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It sucks! To make it a little better, use your experience to comfort and console others, and make you a softer person.

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