Entry #1

I decided to make a thread going into great detail about my anxiety story and what I've learned throughout this journey. I feel like my story is worth sharing and it could potentially help someone who is going through the same.

I will try to post on here every 2-3 days until I don't feel like I have anything more to say. It's been a long battle with many ups and downs. For those reading this - I hope you are able to find something here that will personally help you in your struggle with anxiety.

Where to start? There's so much to say, I almost don't even know how to begin.

I guess I'll start from when I first began struggling. I vividly remember that evening in January of 2013 in the "quiet room" at my college's library while studying for an accounting exam. There had been a lot of stress in my life up to that point - relationship problems, beginning my first job ever at a bank and first customer service role (I was shy too, which made it unnatural), worrying about my future after college, and trying to juggle school, work, and commuting. It was my second-to-last semester of college, and I was starting to take many of my difficult courses that required a lot more effort and studying. I was reading from my textbook - when all of a sudden - I couldn't remember what I'd just read.

I thought "I must've been zoning out", and reread over the sentence again. Nothing. I couldn't process what I'd read, nor could I remember it. I was startled because I'd always been a fast reader and reading always came naturally to me. I reread it again, and once again, nothing. I became frightened and said to myself "Jordan, focus. You have an exam tomorrow, and you have a lot more work to do. You can't be wasting all this time getting hung up on a sentence. Just move on." But no matter what I read, I could not make heads or tails of what I was reading. My heart began to beat faster and my thoughts started to race. "What is going on with me?! This is not normal!" I screamed internally. After about an hour, I felt defeated and went back to my girlfriend's apartment and told her what all happened. I remember that night I had my first ever anxiety attack.

I wish I could say life got better for me from then on out, but it didn't - it got worse. I began to worry about what I'd just experienced. I began to Google my symptoms and scared myself into thinking I had cancer, MS, a brain tumor, diabetes, and a litany of other things. I noticed this brain fog began interfering with my ability to follow lectures in the classroom. I'd find myself getting frustrated by not being able to follow along and engage with our subject matter, and this frightened and upset me. "How can I possibly succeed in this class if I can't even understand or remember what my teachers are saying?!" I'd think.

It felt like this black cloud of brain fog would just hit me out of nowhere sometimes - and I never knew when it would occur, which frightened me. "What if it happens when I am in the middle of working with a customer at my job? What if I forget their transaction and they get upset at me and I lose my job? What if my co-workers ask me to retell my story and I can't remember it? I will look like a blubbering idiot and they will think I am weird."

I used to ask questions in class with no issues. But I began to notice that I was starting to mentally rehearse in my mind how I would ask the question over and over again - sometimes I would do this hundreds of times in a classroom setting and never end up asking the question. I felt so stupid and like a failure. "Why is it so hard to ask a simple question now, Jordan? Just do it!" But over time I started mentally rehearsing more and more. I longed for the "good old days" when I could just ask a simple question without rehearsing it in my mind and fantasizing about how it would play out.

My girlfriend was getting more and more fed up with me. These symptoms ended up following me home and sometimes I'd even have a hard time talking with and remembering things my girlfriend and family would tell me. "I want you to talk to me" she'd say. But when the brain fog was present, I would struggle so hard to communicate with her. I felt so much pressure to perform. So much pressure to put on a happy face when I was so unhappy and terrified inside.

After being pushed by her, I finally mustered the courage to schedule an appointment with our college's free counselors. I attended a few sessions, and found that I'd feel better for an hour or two. It was essentially talk therapy - they would listen to me and tell me that I have anxiety and everything would be ok, but after a couple hours, I'd be back to struggling again with the same issues. I felt like there was no hope for me.

I began to fall down even further in September of 2013. Graduation would be here in three months, and I had no idea what my future would hold. Our school held a Career Day where many local businesses would hold interviews and answer questions at the event. It was quite formal and a big event for us - we were all to dress up in our suits and ties, bring our resumes, and be prepared to interview for positions and internships.

I spent hours doing research on the various companies I was interested in working at. I felt prepared the night before, but when I got to the event, I felt very anxious and the brain fog came back with a vengeance.

I walked around the large room several times, not making eye contact with anyone. I finally walked to the tables I was interested in, but I could not manage but a few weak sentences. Not only that, I couldn't focus on what they were talking to me about. They would say things about their organization, but most of the words just wouldn't register in my mind. I heard the words, but couldn't understand them. When they asked me if I had any questions for them, I could not even remember what I wanted to talk about, and I said "no". It was a complete disaster, and I remember my girlfriend calling me and asking how it went. I remember crying in my car telling her it was a mess, and I just couldn't get it together in my head, while crying. I'd just blown the biggest event in my college career, and had no clue how to get a handle on these terrible symptoms.