5 Things That Contributed to My Struggle With Anxiety, Panic, and Agoraphobia

A big part of overcoming my 15-year journey with anxiety, panic, and agoraphobia, was figuring out what had and was contributing to my struggles. Figuring out your contributors will help you to work to eliminate them, and ultimately eliminate anxiety and panic in the process!

Before we dive in, I want to share something with you that I am so excited about!

I will be releasing an online course in September 2020!! In the course, I will help you to identify your contributors, and teach you the tools you need in order to eliminate them and ultimately overcome anxiety and panic.

People often ask me how I overcame my struggles and so I figured, heck, let me put all of the tools that I used to overcome my journey in a course so that people can overcome their struggles just like I did!

Okay, let’s jump into some of my contributors!

Contributor # 1: Genetics

My mom, brother, uncle, grandfather, great grandmother, all struggled with anxiety, panic, and/or agoraphobia. But here’s the good news, being predisposed to anxiety and panic didn’t stop me from overcoming it!

Sometimes we convince ourselves that we are stuck and that we have no control over things, when in reality, we are convincing ourselves of a lie. Being predisposed to anxiety and panic does not mean that you have to live a life of anxiety and panic!

You can’t really change your genetics, right? That’s okay! It’s about finding the right tools that will help you to push past it. For some, medication is a great tool, especially to help you get started so that you can focus on implementing anxiety-relieving tools into your everyday life. And if you’ve tried medication and it didn’t work for you, or if you are hesitant to try medication, that’s okay, too! Medication didn’t work for me, but that didn’t stop me from overcoming anxiety and panic.

Sometimes we have to accept what is, learn what will help us push past it, and do the work!

Contributor # 2: Trauma

Trauma, either as a child or adult, has such huge impacts on our mental wellbeing. I experienced trauma as a child and also as a teenager.

My father was always emotionally distant, and his behavior was often volatile. I didn’t feel loved or supported by him, and his behavior created a lot of fear in me which carried through to my teenage and early adult years.

Then, when I was a teenager, I was involved in a very toxic relationship. He was mentally and emotionally abusive, and at the end of the relationship he was physically abusive.

Trauma requires healing, and healing can be hard but is absolutely necessary. Healing helps you to work through the trauma and ultimately allows you to push forward. I worked through these traumas in therapy, by writing down my thoughts and feelings, and by talking to people.

Contributor # 3: Stress

Do you find yourself always trying to do it all? If you are an achiever like me, you know that piling things on will only leave you feeling more overwhelmed and anxious!

Stress = anxiety!

It’s important to set boundaries and stick to them. Are you working too much? Are you taking too many classes? Are you saying yes to everything and not saying ‘no’ enough? Are you dedicating enough time to YOU and your mental health?

Next time you are faced with adding more, ask yourself, will this negatively affect my mental health (aka increase anxiety/panic)? If the answer is yes, say NO! Saying no is okay and healthy! Especially when it means allowing yourself more time to focus on you and your mental health.

Contributor # 4: Toxic relationships

Unhealthy people and unhealthy relationships cause stress, which leads to a whole lot of unnecessary anxiety!

Do you allow unhealthy, negative, destructive, and unsupportive people to contribute negatively to your life? I sure used to! It’s not even that these people are bad people. They may not even be intentionally doing the things that they’re doing! Unfortunately some people don’t even realize that they’re harming other people with their own self-destructive behaviors.

The reality of toxic relationships is that if someone is an unhealthy person, it’ll negatively affect you no matter how much you try to not let it. And as much as you may care for and love someone, you cannot fix their internal struggles and MAKE them a healthy and happy person. No matter how much care and love you give to someone, that love cannot overcome their struggles for them. If someone isn’t happy with who they are, you can try as many different ways to “fix” this person, but you’ll ultimately be damaging yourself in the process.

Ending toxic relationships means that you’ll likely have to have some tough conversations, and that’s okay, YOU ARE CAPABLE. Trust yourself and know that you are capable of supporting your own happiness. If someone isn’t supporting your happiness, you need to communicate this to them. You can let them know that you’re open to reconnecting in the future, once they’re in a healthy space. Although this is tough to do, sometimes it pushes people to make the necessary changes that they need to make in their lives to support their own happiness.

And if you need to, seek support! Talk to a therapist if you need help removing toxic people from your life. I want you to do this in a safe and healthy way. I know how hard it can be to end toxic relationships, but it’s absolutely crucial to your health and wellbeing.

Contributor # 5: Diet

Sometimes we think that we are experiencing symptoms of anxiety when it’s actually symptoms that we are experiencing because of what we are consuming.

Caffeine, alcohol, gluten, dairy - These are all things that I eliminated from my diet because they made me feel bad and led to feelings of anxiety and panic.

If you are struggling with anxiety and panic, I want you to find a way to eliminate caffeine from your diet right now. Make the switch from caffeinated coffee to decaf, then from decaf coffee to something else like caffeine-free tea. Caffeine is a stimulant and will cause anxiety. I know, coffee tastes delicious, but it’s not worth experiencing anxiety and panic over! Start small. Slowly make these changes and then work to eliminate it.

I also want to talk about dairy because it’s something that caused so many symptoms for me! Back pain, stomach cramping, nausea, diarrhea… Years ago, a doctor recommended that I try eliminating dairy from my diet because he thought that it was causing most of my symptoms. It wasn’t until I removed it from my diet for months, and then tried reintroducing it back into my diet, that I learned that dairy was in fact the thing that was causing all of those symptoms!

When I ate dairy, I would think things like: I don’t feel good. I’m going to get sick. I’m not in control. I’m going to have a panic attack. And cue the panic attack!

Start a food diary to track what you are eating and how it makes you feel. Or you may already have a hunch of what is causing some symptoms for you. As always, start small! Make a plan to eliminate these things from your diet. And stick to it! Your body is used to consuming these things so it will take time for your body to register how it feels without them. I promise, doing this will help to relieve anxiety and panic, and it’s so worth it!

I’m sure some of these contributors resonated with you, if not all of them. In my online course, you’ll learn all of the things that are contributing to your struggles and all of the tools that will help you to push past them and start living a life of peace and joy!

Stay tuned and keep pushing! There’s so much more support coming your way very soon!

Ways to work with me...

Panic to Peace

(live course)

A 10-week course that will teach you the tools that will help you to overcome your anxious thoughts, the symptoms, panic, and fears (no matter where and in what situations you experience them), and start living a life that is full of lots more peace, joy, freedom, and adventure!



Work with me one-on-one to transform your relationship with anxiety and reclaim your life!


Driving Anxiety

(online course)

Whether you experience anxiety or panic while driving, or riding in cars, or riding as a passenger, or riding public transportation, or traveling, this course is for you! This course will teach you tools that will help you to experience lots more peace and freedom behind the wheel and in life in general!

Been interested in taking my course, Panic to Peace? The doors will be opening again in January!

Join me for 10 weeks and learn how to overcome your anxious thoughts, the symptoms, panic, and fears and experience lots more peace, joy, and freedom!


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Shannon Jackson