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Hi all. A battle scarred survivor of 40 years of anxiety without ever knowing what it was.

Community Member

I was one of those kids who arrived late and left as early as possible to avoid others at school. They probably knew b4 I did that something was amiss.

Left home at 19 to start a career and almost immediately discovered there was something wrong. This childhood avoidance was now a social fear of people, particularly at work. Not helpful for a career. Used defence mechanisms to hide it which only made it worse. Snob, aloof, up himself was popular impression after 6 months anywhere. Some broke through and saw me under that rock.

First panic attack at 22. More like a psychotic episode. Very scary. In and out of careers and jobs all my life telling myself "Hey, it's good for life experience".

Now I'm in my 60s. No kids by design.. broken hearts (including mine) to show for it. Ended up marrying late in life. She's a solitary person too so we respect each others necessary space.

Nearer the end I reflect that it was a safe, solitary and uncomplicated life. But then it's near the end that you question the purpose of the journey.

Looking forward to connecting with people - and that'll probably be a first for me. If I don't panic and run.

8 Replies 8

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Community Champion

Hi Henry'sFriend's,

welcome to beyond blue.

I am sure you would have a of stories about anxiety etc. I wonder how you worked out that something was wrong when you were 19. My own story is one where I thought the feeling and thoughts I had was something everyone experienced. Until one day, it was worse that others and ended up seeing a psychologist. And that was when I found out that I had depression and anxiety.

So... for the 2 sec tour of this place - in the social areas of the forums you will find games and a cafe section where you can find random chatter. Not sure what else you might be looking for. I hope you do not run as I am sure you would have stories that others will relate to and you might be talk about how you got through it then and now?

welcome again,


Thanks Tim for the welcome

You said "I wonder how you worked out that something was wrong when you were 19".

I guess the move to an alien State alone coming from a solitary family life was a bad move. After spending a 19yrs of avoiding social contact with anyone except my siblings I hadn't the mechanisms to cope. I soon realised that there was something wrong when I couldn't connect with coworkers. I kept to myself and that offended some. Usually the ones with group influence and a big mouth. When you aren't in the loop that is slowly hanging you, you never know till its too late. Then you leave.

I wince when I think about it. Can still feel the panic. Being invited to dinner by a friendly coworker and sitting at the table with he and his wife feeling so anxious I couldn't breathe. Not knowing what to say, how to respond. Awkward, stilted answers to questions. Long uncomfortable periods of silence between inappropriate responses. Couldn't get out of there fast enough.

Then in my 30's at a dinner party given by a friend (yes, I had 2 that I felt ok with) being trapped at the dinner table full of strangers. The panic attack started coming and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Before I knew it their voices were just jumbled noises. The room was spinning and all these faces were just staring and moving their mouth. I struggled for breath. Excused myself to the toilet and climbed out the window. "That was rude of you to leave like that!" was difficult to explain. Could never share my 'secret' with anyone.

And that was what is was. A 'secret' till I confided in my brother who was a psyche nurse. Took a lot to share it with family. Big brothers are supposed to be strong and set a good example. My dear catholic mother inculcated in me from a very early age.

Probably said too much too soon. Thanks again.


Hello Sim

It takes a lot of courage to post on the forums and good you!

I understand your situation as when I was 19 I could 'feel' the anxiety creep in followed by a mega anxiety attack when I was 23. It was a time that I can never forget. That was in 1983 when support for anxiety was hard to find (including my doctors at the time) which is a key reason why I joined the forums in 2016 to share this vile yet 'manageable' condition

I really do feel your pain Sim. I was that scared about my anxiety/depression when I joined I didnt have the guts to write my own thread for a few weeks after joining.

It does have a profound effect on our career.....our relationships..Physical health...It is mentally 'painful'

You havent said anything too soon Sim. I really hope you can stick around the forums with your life experience (only if you wish of course)

Reading your posts was like looking in the mirror

you are not alone

my kind thoughts


Thanks so much Paul

will keep this one brief. I have always kept emotions under control. Never show your weaknesses sort of thing. But when I read your response I really shocked myself. Tears came and a great sense of relief. Last time that happened was when I had to identify the body of my mother at the morgue. Nothing serious like a murder or anything. Just a heart attack but I didn't want to cry in front of the police and it just burst out as it did with your post.

Made me realise that just getting it off your chest can be better than trying to deny it with a drink.

As I read the posts of others I realise that we all experience tragedy and that some of us cope in different ways.

When I feel more confidence maybe I might be able to help others.

Hi Sim

Thankyou for your wonderful post. I am happy that you experienced some sense of relief after reading my own background which is very similar to yours.

You are spot on about the benefits of getting the pain off our chest

My condolences for the loss of your mum...(if thats okay) I have never been through what you have before....That would have incredibly painful

When you are comfortable you are very welcome to jump in and help others. You have a ton of life experience that can help others help themselves

I hope you are having a good weekend Sim

my kind thoughts


Hi Sim,

The funny thing (not haha) about life is that all of our journeys are uniquely individual and at the same time there are similarities with others. So while I would have leave a dinner via a toilet window, your description of the events is something I have felt as well. I don't say that to make myself look better but I can say that I understand.

I moved to the city after high school - to go to Uni. Before then I had a very protective upbringing. You were catholic, I was/am anglican. I had connection problems also.

Paul was/is right - like looking into a mirror.

So I chat with a pychologist every 2 weeks. Why? Each time I do, I find out more about myself and my past, and learn ways of dealing with the negatives. Whether you are at a point where you feel you can talk to someone? But you have been able to talk a little here which should been seen as a positive. And where the story starts, or where it goes is up to you. For myself, making sense of it all, and stopping (?) the self talk is my aim. So I am hopeful that from your few posts thus far, you might come back and chat some more.


Thanks for the message Tim

I am visiting and reading posts and getting more confidence. I will come back and chat some more as I feel more comfortable. Sometimes I want to say something but I don't feel.. umm.... I don't know. Don't feel confident enough yet.

When you said "via a toilet window" it surprised me and looking back at my post it sounds like that but I should have worded it better. The dinner was between the front door and the back door and on the way to the toilet I got out from a bigger window. Those old timber houses didn't have fly screens but on stumps you had a bit of a jump. And would you believe it I got a call the other day from the friend who invited me to that dinner. Hadn't spoken to him for about many years. I told him that in a chat group I told the story of leaving his place without saying goodbye. Talk about co-incidence.

You say you are seeing a psychologist and I think it's a great idea. I was seeing one too but after 10 free sessions it was going to cost me too much so we ended it there. It concentrated on CBT which never really worked for me. To me it was never a cognitive behaviour that I could distract myself from but more an irrational fear that was very real while it is happening. If I see a car coming towards me my fight/flight kicks in and I can't stop and rub my temple or tap my wrist and just tell myself "It is not that serious". But I did learn some techniques for dealing with stress.

You say "I had connection problems also.". Was it something that you could conceal or overcome? For me at every workplace it was ok for the first 4-6 months. Then I would notice negativity creeping into the environment. Took many years to work it out and at first I thought I was going paranoid. Back in those days there was no help and no information out there. Social anxiety wasn't even on the radar yet.

You also mention the christian influence. I hope yours was better than mine...if they can ever be better when they are too intense. My catholic guilt was re-enforced in me at a VERY early age. One hangup was a fear that another child might look under the toilet door when I was sitting on it. I would hold on till I got home and on one occasion I didn't make it soiling myself on the way. I felt so dirty and ashamed - learned self loathing at a young age. Ah, enough of these memories.

Thanks again for the reply


PS: You guys do a wonderful job.


Thanks for the kind words at the end of your post.

connection problems for me was in a few forms - my views on subjects never quite matched the majority of people, because of things in my school days I would not say anything for fear of being criticized, shy, not knowing what to say, the awkward silences, the silence was my fault, i am not interesting,. maybe i put up a protective shield and it takes a long while to get to know me.

CBT works for me - my issues of self worth originate with my youth. Could talk about that another time.

My christian influence - it was necessarily bad but NOT good. In my teens because of my interests I was going to hell. That was something else that told me not to talk to others - self protection again. This occurred over a 7-8 year period. It was not an everyday occurrence but enough... Shyness plus overly protective parents so not allowed to social events. And I always did as I was told. Not allowed to plays games like D&D cause parents thought they were evil. Ditto for some TV shows.

These things all had an impact on our growing up and the person we become or the person I am now.

Now as for your confidence in writing. think you are doing quite a good job if I only go by your last post - talking about your christian upbringing and the phone call. If I use myself only as an example, I know it can take time. It was only recently my psychologist told me to start rocking the boat rather than trying to please everyone. I have been trying that. Whether it a take your time, or baby steps or ...

Last words... your thread title... I did not know I had anxiety or depression until 2 year ago. At the time, I knew something was wrong, but I honestly thought that what I was going through was something went through but they could cope. And I couldn't.

Listening to you