Panic Disorder - Megan

My name is Megan. I have panic disorder. I was diagnosed at the age of 16. I am now 25 and still trying to weave my way through life without falling too far down the “rabbit hole”. With panic disorder, anything can trigger me. This is really scary because verses when the “average” person who when feels a bit of stress, finds a coping mechanism...I end up getting very severely cold, I either see dots/have tunnel vision or both at the same time. I quite often crawl into bed but sometimes when I can't make it to my bed in time, I will end up on the floor. I often shake, cry, and concept of time becomes irrelevant. I bring my medication with me to stores and school (my college has a "safety plan" all instructors are aware of) because if I can take it when I feel it's onset (the panic attack), I can usually dull down the symptoms. However sometimes it "hits" so fast mentally that I've been on my bathroom floor until my boyfriend realized I'd been in there for quite awhile. He then picked me up, placed me in bed, gave me my medication and also water. Water helps me a lot because it forces me to breathe. Yes, I know of the deep breathing techniques. I have been through countless years of cognitive behavioral therapy. However, nothing so far has worked for me because yes it sounds helpful but during the attack I am unable to grasp any therapeutic techniques and put them to use. I have been in and out of the hospital more times than I can count and I've been put on nearly every psychiatric medication ever created. There are no scars on my body. There are no x-rays to show that anything is "broken" or "wrong". The only proof would be in a CT scan of my brain, which my insurance would never pay for because mental health has not advanced that far yet in my community. The one thing I want to let people know is that they are not alone. Mental illnesses of every kind are becoming more and more researched because of the rise in diagnoses among Americans. Also, there are social networking sites that give you the luxury to talk to people (via facebook, twitter, etc.) especially if you search the illness you are struggling with and request to join a few groups, or follow someone who inspires you to keep a positive outlook every day. The good that has come out of my invisible illness is that it is the reason why I choose the route of psychology for my studies. I am now a senior psychology student at the University in town (it's taken me 7 years instead of the traditional 4). However, I have the willpower and resilience to believe that no matter how long it takes, I will ultimately reach my goal of one day getting a doctorate degree in Psychology and be able to have a platform to speak out for those who do suffer in silence for far too long. The advice I have for those who do suffer with invisible illnesses is this: do not be afraid to use your voice. Believe in yourself and stand up for yourself, because I promise there are many others out there just like you who need someone to look up to.