What Caused My Anxiety & Panic Disorder?

It’s In My Genes, But There’s More

Mental illness runs in my family. My great grandparents, grandmother, many of my great aunts, uncles, mother, brother, cousins, nieces and nephews have all been touched by this dreaded illness. I have even passed it down to some of my children.  So yes, I was destined to be diagnosed with some type of mental illness in my lifetime.  There’s more to this, though.  I began experiencing symptoms of anxiety and panic disorder at a very young age.  Three months before my third birthday, my little brother passed away due to complications of a heart defect.  My family was traumatized and I learned about death, heartache, and uncontrollable pain at a very young age.

I Want to Know

When would I have experienced my first symptom of anxiety if things were different?  How different would my childhood have been if I didn’t obsess over my loved ones dying, and leaving me, like my brother did. Would my anxiety and panic disorder be as severe as it is today if none of this happened?

A Combination of Both

Being predisposed for mental illness, it was bound to rear it’s ugly head in my life sooner or later.  Unfortunately, I believe my first symptoms started at such a young age because of the loss of my little brother.  Don’t get me wrong, I had a wonderful childhood and a loving, supportive family.  I feel that being predisposed to mental illness is kind of like a ticking time bomb.  If my childhood was uneventful, I don’t believe I would have had such severe anxiety at such a young age.

How Could Such a Young Child Have Anxiety?

Children are sponges, soaking up everything around them.  Grieving parents can only hide their emotions to a certain extent.  I don’t remember my mom and dad talking much about Michael’s heart defect.  I’m sure I could sense the worrying and noticed my parents had to go to many doctor appointments with him.  Even though I don’t remember seeing a lot of tears, I’m sure I witnessed them daily.  Most importantly, I saw my brother everyday, but then one day, he was gone, and I knew I would never see him again.

I Was Always Ashamed

Bedtime was a nightmare. It was quiet and gave my mind time to wander.  My mom and dad were going to die someday and leave me.  I would scream and tell them that I didn’t want them to die before me.  I knew this upset them but I was obsessing about them dying and in complete panic mode.  They would talk to me and read to me at night but I would still cry myself to sleep.  I even obsessed about it at school and wanted to tell a teacher, but I was afraid of what they would think. All of these deep feelings were a lot for a little girl to process. I never told anyone about this because I was very embarrassed. I didn’t realize until the last couple of years, that this was a result of me losing my brother, and not something to be ashamed of.

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