Finally Free: Camille's Journey From Self-Medicating To Living Without Fear

This article was written exclusively for LivingWithAnxiety.com by Camille Rynd. She explains why she resorted to self-medicating and how much better her life is now that she has been diagnosed and properly treated for anxiety.

My struggle with anxiety started in my early 20s. I was at work when suddenly I was absolutely sure I was dying of a heart attack. I asked to leave work and walked myself to the hospital, which happened to be a couple of blocks away.

I was admitted and all sorts of readings and tests were done. They assured me that I was fine, that my heart was strong and healthy, and that they thought I was suffering from a panic attack. I was given a Xanax to calm me down and then sent on my way.

Panic attacks and general anxiety have been with me ever since.

No health insurance, clinic doctors didn’t believe me

I lived on a very limited income with no health insurance, so my only option for seeing a doctor was to go to a crowded community clinic, which was still very expensive. Doctor after doctor told me to “try to relax,” some said that I ought to “start meditating or doing tai chi” to control stress. As I could barely afford the clinic visits, I was hardly able to afford tai chi or meditation classes, so they weren’t real options.

Many doctors insinuated that I was only there to get a prescription for controlled substances and didn’t believe me at all. After about a year of this, I gave up and started to self-medicate.

Self-medicating with marijuana and alcohol

I smoked marijuana and drank alcohol to take the edge off enough to go to the store or to work or to social events. The risk of this was great enough to be a source of anxiety in and of itself.

I carried on in this way for about 15 years, occasionally trying to see if a doctor would help me, to no avail. I tried everything in my power to keep the panic attacks and anxiety is hidden. I was depressed, full of anxiety, I cleaned ritually, always felt broken — and no one would have known it. I was an excellent pretender.

Finally diagnosed, treated and able to live

It wasn’t until very recently that I found a doctor who listened to me. I was diagnosed with an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, depression, anxiety, and panic disorder. He prescribed Zoloft, and my life has been so much better ever since.

I am a better mother, wife and me. I now LIVE without the ever-present, oppressive fear and depression that once haunted my every waking moment.

Photo: Max Pixel

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