The Hardest Parts of My Journey With Anxiety, Panic Disorder, and Agoraphobia

If you’re new here, hi, my name is Shannon Jackson! I struggled with anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia for 15 years. Yes, 15 years! It was an incredibly hard journey, and I am grateful every day that I am now in the place where I can help others like you. But before I go on, I want you to know that you don’t have to struggle for years like I did. If you’re ready to put in the work, I can help you!


I want to share with you some of the hardest parts of my anxiety journey for a couple of reasons. The first is that when I was struggling, I wanted so badly to connect with somebody that had struggled with the same stuff that I had. People can tell you that you’re not alone, but to know and feel that you aren’t alone, well that’s priceless. The second reason is that I want to give you hope, inspiration, and motivation. I want you to know, and really feel, that you won’t struggle forever. My site is called “A Healthy Push” for a reason! Sometimes we all need a little push to help us get to where we’re meant to be in life. I want to give you that little push that will help you to overcome, because the life that you want and deserve to live is within your reach!


Okay, so back when I was struggling I’m pretty sure my mom said this to me daily, “Shannon, I promise, you won’t struggle with anxiety and panic forever.” And you know what, I wanted so badly to believe her, but there were many times that I didn’t. If this is how you’re currently feeling, I get it. I’ve been where you are! But I do what I do now to prove to you that with some hard work and dedication to you and your mental health, you can overcome it.


Let’s dive in!


Not understanding why I was struggling. One of the most frustrating parts of struggling with anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia was not understanding the why. I struggled for so long before figuring out why I was struggling, but once I did, it made perfect sense. My parents divorced when I was 15-years-old. And as a young child, I saw my father display volatile behaviors. He often yelled, got upset, and slammed things around. I never saw this as being traumatic, but I learned as I got older that it was in fact trauma.


As a young child, I often felt as though there were a lot of things outside of my control, which led to me feeling anxious when I felt as though I wasn’t in control. So naturally, I began to crave control in order to feel safe. This is common with people that experience trauma or abuse. And traumatic events, or events that make you feel unsafe, can lead to an anxiety disorder.


Here are some other things that can cause you to struggle with anxiety, panic disorder, or agoraphobia: Genetics, trauma (abuse, bullying, childhood trauma…), and stress. Understanding why isn’t imperative to your recovery, but it can help you in your healing process.


The what-ifs, worries, and fears. In a day, I had countless what-ifs, worries, and fears running through my head. Things like: What if I have a bad panic attack? What if I lose all control? What if I go crazy? What if I pass out? What if I die? What if my mom dies? What if I have to quit my job because of anxiety? This symptom must mean that there’s something wrong with me. I can’t be that far from home, what if something happens? I’m never going to live a “normal” life. I’m going to be stuck with this forever.


I’d get stuck in a cycle of unproductive, unhealthy, and negative thinking, and this cycle would almost always lead to a panic attack.


The panic attacks! At one point, I was experiencing multiple panic attacks a day, and a handful of them landed me in the ER. I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything for fear that I’d have a panic attack. In a nutshell, this is agoraphobia - avoiding going places and doing things for the fear that you’ll experience panic and feel trapped, embarrassed, or helpless. I would often bail on plans and stay home because doing this was “easier.” I put easier in quotations because avoiding doing the things I feared actually strengthened my fears and made them more difficult to overcome.


The symptoms. The mental and physical symptoms of anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia made it incredibly hard for me to live my life. Here are some of the symptoms that I experienced: Nausea, shaking, fatigue, feeling faint, headaches, heart racing, running to the bathroom, shortness of breath, feeling like I was having an “out of body experience,” racing thoughts, anticipating the worst, irritability, restlessness, feelings of dread… And the list goes on! I learned that my symptoms were caused or heightened by my thoughts, stress, or my diet.


The lack of self-esteem and self-confidence. So often I felt like I had nothing to offer others and the world. I was barely able to hold my head above water every day, never mind contributing in any meaningful way. I also felt like I wasn’t capable of doing anything without leaning on others for support. I was always looking for somebody else to save me whenever I experienced anxiety or a panic attack. And I was consistently beating myself up and reinforcing the idea that I was worthless and incapable.


Having to put in the work to overcome it all. I had gone to therapy for years and had spent thousands of dollars. I read books, listened to podcasts, and had learned many different tools and techniques… But with everything that I had learned and with all of the tools that I had available to me, the hardest part was knowing that I was the one who needed to take the action in order to overcome it all. This was so overwhelming! What I was struggling with was hard enough, and I lacked a whole lot of energy and drive already.


But I wanted to experience peace and joy more than anything. I have always been a strong-willed and adventurous person, and I wanted so badly to do all of the things in life that I had always dreamed of. So I started taking small steps every day, and I made some big changes that had major impacts. Changes to my mindset, my lifestyle, and my diet. I had to make some really hard decisions. And I had to learn to put me and my mental health first always. And guess what, I was worth every ounce of hard work it took! And YOU are worth every ounce of hard work!


If you are on a similar path that I was on, I know how hard it is. But I also want you to know that it doesn’t have to be so hard. If you’ve been contemplating working with me, now is the time! In my online course, I help you to understand what’s contributing to your struggles, and I teach you the tools to help you push past these things. You also get one-on-one time with me, and access to a support group of others who are also on a similar recovery journey!


And if you’re nearly there but want to make absolute sure we’re the right fit, send me a message, I’d love to chat with you!


Remember, you are absolutely capable of making your dreams your reality and you won’t be stuck struggling with anxiety, panic disorder, or agoraphobia forever.

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