Anxiety Disorders Can Happen to Anyone

My college life was enriched with family, friends, sorority sisters, successful academic achievement and a loving boyfriend. A terrifying new element was suddenly added one evening. I was lying in bed and began to sweat profusely. My heart was racing and I could not stay still. I had an overwhelming foreboding that something terrible was about to happen to me, and I couldn't escape it. I called my dad to explain my symptoms and he suggested that I go to the hospital. I wanted to go there alone because I could not bear the thought of anyone seeing me in a helpless, hopeless state.

At the hospital, the doctor thought I might be dehydrated. He gave me fluids and medication to help me sleep, but I lay awake confused and crying.
I went through my days smiling on the outside and broken on the inside. People surrounded me yet I felt completely isolated. I slept very little, ate very little, and thought very little about anything other than how pathetic I was. Though a small part of me understood the anxiety I was feeling, the other part of me thought I was crazy. In fact, I was sure of only one thing: I was alone in my condition. It wasn't long before I discovered how wrong I was.

With the support and love from my family, I sought help, opened up, and learned what I was experiencing was a common secret struggle among many college students, and also among members of my family. I spoke with my grandmother, who experienced the same symptoms at my age. Unfortunately for her, there were very limited mental health resources available 50 years ago. In talking with my grandmother I realized that what I was experiencing was a condition that I was genetically predisposed to, and like my grandmother, a condition I would be able to overcome.
Four years have passed since my initial panic attack, and I am now earning my Master's degree in Public Health. It is my plan to promote mental health resources and work to eliminate stigma surrounding mental health. As my family showed me, I want to show others suffering from anxiety they are not alone.

- Samantha