Job wasn't really tested--he never had to contend with a stuck zipper.

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My Anxiety Symptoms

My attacks are more classified as episodes, because I can still reason, and I don't believe I'm dying. Or at least, that's what the doctors tell me. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

There are usually set off by load noises, small places, crowds, being alone at night, and people who use threatening body language, but don't voice an actual threat. Actual threats put me into the "fight" instead of the "flight response", and I'll get into their faces and chew them out. Scares people when I do that, because one moment, I'm this gentle passive person who would avoid eye contact, and the next moment I'm egging them on with a gleam in my eye, and an evil grin on my face. Never got into a real fight in school, because I scared the hell out of any bully who tried to threaten me. Don't know why, something would just snap inside of me, and I'd decide that I didn't have to take that crap. But until they voiced an actual threat, I would just try to be invisible and ignore them. The other exception is when someone I care about is in trouble. I'd walk into Hell itself for the sake of someone else.

The first thing that happens is my shoulders and upper back begin to tense. Then my hearing becomes sensitive, and I begin to jump or winced at any sudden or loud noise around me. My heart begins to beat faster and my breathing starts to change. Sometimes it's short and shallow, other times long and deep, but still frequent. My skin begins to crawl and the slightest breeze make me feel as if there are thousands of bugs crawling over me. About this time, I will start talking loud and very fast. I fidget and keep looking around me to see if there's anything that's may attack me. If I can't calm myself at this point, then my chest starts to tighten and my throat becomes dry. Anything I drink at this point, I will gulp. I've actually hurt my throat trying to swallow water to allieviate the dryness. If I can't find a quiet place to calm down in, I will become very dizzy and my hands and arms begin to tingle. Once I got so bad that my legs and feet began to tingle too.

I found a workbook (Anxiety, Phobias, and Panic by Reneau Z. Peurifoy) that helped me greatly, and since I've been through it, I have only experienced some episodes which have only gotten to the loud and fast talking. My friends and husband will tell me when I start talking like that and I try to pinpoint what's upsetting me, or lay down and quiet myself. Once, while I was on the phone with a friend, I tried to slow my speech and lower my volume. I succeeded, but then I started to shake so hard, I had trouble holding the phone. We decided that the adrenaline had to go somewhere.

If I can't get it under control, my arms begin to tingle and I get dizzy. My epsiodes always make me very tired. The one that scared me the most was when I was already experiencing the hyperventilation and I went to a friend's house for a distraction. In the middle of helping her on her computer, her husband, who had stomped out earlier because he didn't understand the computer enough, walked in and threatened to unplug the thing and throw it out the window. I hadn't even saved the changes I had spent the last half-hour making. He didn't do it, because when he walked towards the computer I told him, "NO. We're not finished yet." I must have used the "command" voice or something, because he just turned around and left the room. Five minutes later, he slammed the door to their bedroom to show he was mad.

You know, most of the time when someone says they want to kill someone, they actually don't want to kill the person as much as they want the person to experience excruciating pain for a very long period of time and live long enough to realize their transgression. After this incident, I ACTUALLY wanted my friend's husband dead. Gone. No longer in existence. Preferably as quickly as possible. I was outraged that someone would DARE to unplug a computer while someone was in the middle of working with it. I felt this was a capitol offense. I spent the next 18 hours wanting him dead, and experiencing surpressed rage. Luckily, through all of this, a small part of my mind was still sane, and kept pointing out that unplugging a computer was not the worst thing a person could do, and that I really didn't want him dead. The rest of me answered, "Yes, I do! It's because of him I feel so tense and awful right now, and if he's gone, he can't make me feel this way again." I am proud to say that I didn't snap once at my children during this time. I had a severe headache and my stomach was in knots, but I stayed in control. I never thought I was capable of such thoughts. It still scares me when I think of it.

I spent morning on my computer, carefully controlling my reactions for the sake of my two small children. That afternoon, I realized something needed to be done, so I put the kids down for a nap, went into my bedroom and prayed for the strength to forgive this man. Somewhere in the middle of my rantings to God, my anger was lifted and the rage disappeared. When I stood up, I was experiencing the "flight" reaction instead of the "fight" one. Which was ok, because I knew how to deal with that. I was fine by the next day.

I have experienced clinical depression several times because of my anxiety. It wasn't until I thought that I too may be schizophrenic that I finally got the help I needed. I now know that the root of my depression (I realize this isn't the same for everyone) is my anxiety. I tell people that my adrenal glands do not work properly because of the stress I had in childhood, and that telling me to calm down doesn't help that much, because my body's isn't listening.

The one TRUE panic attack I had happened when I clean my place to perfection. I thought I was going to be crushed and suffocated to death. I messed up the top of my dresser, threw my pillow to the other side of the bed, went into the closet, pulled out a coat and threw it on the couch. Then I took a clean glass out of the cupboard and set it on the kitchen counter. It wasn't until then, that I could breathe again. Have you ever heard anything so absolutely pathetic in your life?

When I was 18, my mother stormed into my room and told me if I ever kept my house cleaner than I kept hers, that she would come and destroy it. My husband says that she has said similar things since, but I must have blocks those out, because I don't remember them.

I hate to admit this but there are things I don't do with my children because of my anxiety. I not agoraphobic, I'm clastrophobic, and I can't stand going anywhere with my kids the involves small places or crowds (I'm short), like fairs, carnivals, parades, etc. I have trouble even shopping with them in stores. If my husband is with me it's ok, because there's another set of eyes to watch the kids and I can concentrate on keeping myself calm, but if it's just me and the kids, I tense up so badly that by the time we reach the car, I'm not sure I can even drive it home safely.

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