Kat Kinsman at CNN.com today has a first-person account of life with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (and, it sounds like panic disorder, as well). It's worth a read. Here's an excerpt:
Anxiety hurts. It's the precise inverse of joy and blots out pleasure at its whim, leaving a dull, faded outline of the happiness that was supposed to happen. It's also as sneaky as hell.
If depression is, as Winston Churchill famously described, a "black dog" that follows the sufferer around, anxiety is a feral cat that springs from nowhere, sinks its claws into skin and hisses invective until nothing else exists.
For me, there is neither rhyme nor reason as to when it will strike. I can board a plane to vacation solo in a strange city, hold forth on live TV at a moment's notice or speak onstage in front of a crowd of hundreds without many mussed feathers. The notion of leaving the house to get half-and-half for coffee flings me dead into the eye of a panic attack.
Kinsman's account of anxiety is, of course, highly personal, and many people have varying experiences. But it's nice to hear someone give an account of their struggles with anxiety, because it seems to me that severe anxiety is a problem that is not generally well understood--at least by people who have not experienced it, or who are not in the mental health field. It astounds me how commonly I hear clients tell me that they've never told anyone about their anxiety problem, and that they've never heard of anyone experiencing something similar.
That's a shame. It's hard enough to deal with this kind of problem as it is; you shouldn't have to feel like you're doing it alone.