My name is Karissa, I’m 27 years old and I was diagnosed with anxiety when I was 11 years old.
My story started when I was very young, I would sleep on my parent’s bedroom floor until I was in grade 6 because I was petrified to fall asleep by myself. When my Mum and Dad asked me “Why do you keep doing this?” I used to say “because I’m scared”. Simple as that!
I would be petrified to go outside, I couldn’t take the rubbish out to the bin at night time, I couldn’t walk down to the local fish and chip shop, I couldn’t sleep over at my friends’ houses, I couldn’t catch public transport and when we used to go out at night to restaurants I used to cry and tell mum and dad to take me home.
As most people who don’t suffer from anxiety could not understand – why the hell can’t you take the rubbish out to the bin! Such a simple thing to do. But for me, every time I had to do this, my heart would be racing, my palms would be sweaty, sometimes I would cry and I would sprint as fast as I could to the bin and back.
I remember when I was about to start High School, my Mum and Dad were worried about how I would cope with such a big change. I started seeing a psychiatrist who started me on anti-depressants and I have pretty much been on and off them since. To start getting me prepared for school I had to do simple things (to a normal person). My dad and I would go on a train - only for a couple of stations, and I would have to sit in a carriage by myself while he would sit in another one. I remember this so clearly it felt like it was only yesterday! We had to do this over and over again.
I started High School and yes the first couple of weeks were very hard but I got the hang of it! I learnt different techniques to try and control my anxiety and it did settle down. I started doing the simple things in life!
It came alight again when I was in year 12. Thinking of what will the real world be like? I signed up for University to become a teacher. I lasted 3 weeks… It was too much for me and I had a break down. I started anti-depressants again. These seem to help. A couple of years after school I broke up with my partner of 3 years. I couldn’t stop crying. I would cry all the time. There were days I would cry and mum would ask “Why are you crying?” I would reply “I don’t know!”. One day I was very very bad and mum ended up taking me to the hospital. I was diagnosed with depression. I have been to the hospital 3 times now… either it be for depression or a severe panic attack. For people who have never had a panic attack before, it feels like you are having a heart attack or stroke. You feel like you are going to die..
I have discovered that when I do not get on top of my anxiety and control it I the get very depressed.
I am now happily married and I have been with my partner for 7 years, I have 2 beautiful children – Cooper and Flynn and we live in our own house! I have a very supportive family and I don't know where I would be without them.
Over these years I have struggled with anxiety and depression on a daily basis. I have trouble making simple phone calls to people, I hate answering the door to people I don’t know, and I get anxious when I have to drive. BUT somehow I am coping! I am raising 2 boys (which is crazy!) I am doing things I never thought possible! Some things are a challenge but I think of where I first started I have come a long way! Yes, I still have bad anxiety and panic attacks but I find ways to push through and with the love and support from family and friends it’s amazing what you can do!