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JJ’s Story

“It’s not just you. There is help.”

Share your stigma experience.

I thought I just had a crappy personality. I wanted to be a person who liked parties and socializing and being there for important events in my friends and family’s lives. But it was so hard. It was easier to stay inside the house than make small talk with the neighbors outside. I’d always felt this way, ever since childhood. I was popular, had plenty of friends but only the pretend me was showing. I’d come home every day exhausted from pretending I had it all together. Every waking moment I was in fear – of being judged, humiliated. I assumed everyone was looking down on me. I was fearful about everything, making sure doors were locked, learning to drive, getting sick, my kids getting sick. Life was fear, that’s all there was. It’s pretty much all I was- fear and trying to control it. I thought I was an awful person. I didn’t know anxiety was a real thing.

How did you overcome this experience?

I was ambulanced out of Disney World for what even the ENTs thought was a heart attack. It was a panic attack. The therapist said that I was “weirdly normal in all aspects except one.” My anxiety was beyond measurable with their tools. It was through the roof. She asked if I had always felt this way. “What way?” I asked. I just thought it was part of who I was. I did a lot of therapy, learned what my triggers were and how to help reframe my thoughts. After 45 years, life finally feels fun.

Help others by sharing a brief, positive message.

It’s not just you. There is help. You’re not “just a worrier”. Baby steps will get you there. I promise.

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