Making friends with my anxiety.
February 15, 2017
I stopped doing what I loved
March 2, 2017
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Believe in yourself and never EVER give up

Too early in my life, my mother and two brothers passed away in a tragic pool accident. I was only 13 months old when this happened.

When I was 12 years old, my father passed away from AIDS. Luckily, my father’s sister (my aunt), legally adopted me when I was only a baby, and gave me a life full of love and happiness.

As I got older, my aunt (now my legal mother) told me about my birth mother, my brothers, and how they passed away.

I would visit with my father on and off, but he had his own demons he was dealing with, which eventually would kill him.

These major life events definitely affected me growing up, but again, I had such an amazing family to support me, that I chose to always live my life to the fullest and to live my life for my family that had left me so early on.

I definitely had normal anxieties about death and being left behind, but it was always something I managed and dealt with growing up.

I always felt my mother’s presence with me too. Even though I was only a baby when she died, I felt 100% connected with her then and now.

My mother died when she was only 30 years old. As a child, you think 30 is old, but when you actually turn 30, you realize how young you are and how your whole life is in front of you still!

When I turned 30, I couldn’t stop thinking about my mom, and how her life was still so full of every hope and dream. This saddened me a lot, now realizing how much of her life was lost.

Then, when I became a mother, her death started to affect me more than ever before. All of a sudden I started thinking to myself, “What if I die, and my children and husband are left behind?”, “Will they feel the tremendous loss that I felt?”

It’s almost like I was feeling all her pain and sadness. This stuck with me as a mother but didn’t really cause any issues until I had my second daughter.

While nursing my new baby, I developed a bad case of Mastitis, which is a bacterial infection that happens when milk gets clogged in the breast and cannot be released properly.

I had it once with my first daughter but was able to take antibiotics for it, which cleared up without any issue. When I got it again, for some reason it was being very resistant to the antibiotics, and I ended up in the hospital and put on super heavy antibiotics to clear the infection.

A few weeks after I was done with all the medications, I started feeling really sick, like a bad stomach bug that wouldn’t go away. It turned out that my gut had been wiped clean of all the good bacteria while being on all the antibiotics.

This, with a combination of the stresses that come with being a new mom, was too much for my immune system. I developed “c-diff”, which is a superbug that attacks your intestinal track and can kill you if not treated properly.

Again, I was put in the hospital, and again more antibiotics.

This is when I experienced my first panic attack. In was the end of November of 2014. I had no idea what it was! I thought it was the antibiotics at first!

My hands were tingling, my heart was racing, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t let down to nurse my baby girl, I was shaking, I felt nauseous, I could barely eat.

It went away when I got to the hospital, so I thought it was simply my sickness and being a bit stressed, but then it came back and came back again. Soon, my days were full of panic, and the nights were even worse.

I had no idea what was going on with me, and I was quickly spiraling out of control trying to figure out what was happening.

My doctors told me it was postpartum anxiety and put me on the usual anxiety meds. The next few months were rough, but I got through it with the help of therapy and acupuncture.

Once life was back to normal, I chalked it all off as postpartum anxiety, and it would never happen again. Nine months later… it all came back.

Why? Because I got Mastitis AGAIN, and my mind automatically raced to thinking “Oh my God, what if I have to go through all of this again?”, “What if I get that sick again? What if I die!”, “I can’t do that again!”.

The panic attacks came back full force and I didn’t know what to do! I was so scared and didn’t know how to control them. The more scared I got, the worse the panic got.

I started going to therapy again, tried medication again, acupuncture, but nothing was working. I just kept getting more scared and feeling more helpless.

Then, in June of 2016, I found DARE. I was researching online about books for panic/anxiety and found a video of Barry speaking about his new book.

So, I looked it up on Amazon and decided to try it out. I remember the day it came in the mail so vividly. I remember opening the book up and reading the first few pages on my staircase, and crying tears of joy thinking “Yes, Barry knows exactly what I am going through, and this book can help me!”.

I read the book over and over and over again, each time finding new pieces of information that would help me recover from the panic I had been experiencing.

The book slowly taught me not to be afraid of the sensations I was feeling, and to control my intrusive thoughts. It also taught me to love myself deeply, and to build up a self-confidence inside of me I had been lacking my whole life.

This journey through your anxiety is a tough one, and you have to be strong to get through it.
But, just like Barry says, if you commit to the DARE process and believe in it (and in yourself), you will get through it!

Boy were there times when I almost gave up, doubted if DARE really worked, got angry at myself, was afraid I would never get better… but I did! Your journey to recovery will be all over the place, and you will have many ups and downs.

No one’s recovery will be the same as another person’s because each one of our paths is different from the other. But the good news is, we have each other to encourage, to push and to lift up along the way!

This DARE family with the amazing support of Barry, Suzane and Michelle is a gift to all of us and a reminder that we are not alone in this very normal struggle!

DARE teaches us all that anxiety is NOT something to be ashamed of, that many people suffer from it, that you can completely control it, and there is nothing to be afraid of!

We are in control of our thoughts and feelings, and DARE teaches you how to do this all. Not only has DARE completely helped me with my panic attacks, but it has made me a stronger, calmer, and a happier person.

Before DARE, I would worry about everything, and had low self-esteem and self-confidence. While the “worry gene” will always be a part of me, I have learned to say “So what!” to my worries, to accept and allow sensations as they pop up, and to love myself completely. This, in turn, has made my life so much better.

If you had asked me if I was grateful for my anxiety when I first started experiencing panic attacks, I would have said, “F NO!”, but now, thanks to DARE, I am glad this happened to me.

I feel like it was a life lesson that needed to happen in order for me to fully enjoy the rest of my life for myself, as a mother, and as a wife.

DARE was the best gift anyone could have ever given me because it taught me that anxiety is a normal thing that millions of people go through, and it made me a stronger happier person.

I look at life so much differently now and feel so very blessed to have the life that I do, and to see things in such a different perspective.

I am so very close to a full recovery, as I still experience my morning sensations on and off, and have intrusive thoughts from time to time, but the difference now is that I am in control of them.

They don’t bother me anymore, and I know with just a bit more work, they will never bother me again.

For everyone still pushing through their anxiety struggles… you can do this! Believe in yourself and never EVER give up.

Look yourself in the mirror every day and tell yourself that you love yourself and that you are proud of yourself for getting through this journey.

Smile at your anxiety and tell it who’s boss… YOU ARE! Let yourself have bad days, but don’t let them discourage you too much.

Tomorrow is another day, another day to practice getting your life back better than it ever was before.

Lastly, I am eternally grateful to Barry for writing this amazing book and the knowledge he has passed on to all of us, to Suzane for being the best mentor anyone could ever ask for and for having the largest sweetest heart in the world, to Michelle for her perfect advice and for making me laugh through my anxiety, and to all of my DARE family for lifting me up when I needed it most and reminding me I can do this.

Something we all need to remember, and something Suzane has told me in the past, “You are stronger than you give yourself credit for”. Yes, you are.

With all my love and support, Elyse (Elyse 2.0)

31 Comments

  1. Tanya says:

    Thank you for this Elyse. I am so glad you wrote your success story and that you are enjoying your life again. It really gives the ones just starting out on this process encouragement and support. Xx

  2. Melissa Bir says:

    What a great story. How can I reach Suzanne and/or Michelle? I’m on a similar journey myself.
    Thank you.

  3. Dawn Hartmeister says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. You are a warrior!

  4. Lucy White says:

    Wow,so true and explained perfectly ,nobody realises that its so easy to read and tell the story ! But any one who has never been through this will ever understand how strong we are to deal with this daily .I believe this makes us special we view life very differently to most and hold such compassion , no one good understand through these words she has written how much pain and intensity anxiety brings its mental emotional physical etc it strips you bare and breaks your heart daily words could ever tell this story ,but I believe it teaches us a valueble lesson and I guess wisdom .my heart goes out to anyone who is suffering stay strong YOU WILL get better don’t resist let it wash over you really feel it then it has no power over you just don’t be afraid Xxx

  5. Michaela Maljcov says:

    Such an inspiring & courageous journey . THANKYOU for sharing .

  6. Kylie says:

    Oh my Elyse! Your story is so deep I am so sorry you lost your family so young, you should be so proud of your self catch you in advanced smashing those goals! xx

  7. Liz Fazio says:

    Thanks for sharing your journey! I am new to the DARE process and very hopeful that this along with my therapist will send me on my road to recovery!

  8. Lori says:

    Elyse you are a beautiful person inside and out and have been a brilliant travel companion and friend on this journey. I wish you many years of continued good health and happiness. Xxx love Lori

  9. Malin Volle says:

    You are such an inspiration. I read your letter now in the morning and Im thinking that maybe its time to also share my story. You make me belive more in myself. Thank you <3

  10. Md.Golam Mortoza says:

    Very touchy and success story.I have learned a lot.Thank you.

  11. Sandra says:

    I am going through a tough time right now. High blood pressure and waking up with rapid heartbeat. At present am on a heart monitor for a month, but am beginning to think it’s all anxiety and panic. I am a wife, mother and grandmother and should not be feeling like this, it’s a horrible feeling. Have dealt with this on and off for many years but it’s getting out of control

  12. Cheryl Ann Obrien says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. You have been through a lot and I send you strength when things are down. I got the book but haven’t started it yet. But thanks to your story of success that I feel I gotta work in my severe anxiety right now. Thanks again for helping me see that the solution is right in my iBooks. ?❤️

  13. Dominick says:

    Thank you for sharing it is inspiring to here how far you have come.

  14. Silvana says:

    Very sad but positive ended story. At 60 I am fully in that state of mind and it become harder and harder. Thank you for sharing positiveness

  15. Mirza says:

    Thank you for the amazing inspirational story Elyse!!!!!!!

  16. sandra wilkinson says:

    Thank you for sharing Elyse. You have been through so much and you must be a wonderful mother. We are all so proud of you

  17. farrokh says:

    thanks a lot to tell us your story , i was also in the same situation . for a long time i was sad not to see my family very long , and when i saw them after some times i had a terrible panic attack . it was just like an explosive which needed time to be exploded , thanks god and my family who helped me very much , i am better now . my advise for you is not to push hard for any thing ,take your time ,love the others and think good.

  18. Rae says:

    I have just ordered my DARE book and can’t wait for it to arrive! Thanks for sharing your story Elyse. It’s so nice to read stories like this, to remind yourself that there is hope, and it will get better, even if it has to get worse before. I am actually taking a 2 hour flight (from Cape Town to Joburg) this evening. Even typing it, I get a rush of adrenaline. I have developed quite a severe fear of flying since having panic attacks. But it is my long-term goal to go travelling, so I am determined to overcome it. Wish me luck! (I have all my Barry videos already loaded on my iPad)
    I wish every single one of you support in your journey to beat anxiety and panic!

  19. sajeel says:

    Thank you! So very inspiring. Thanks a lot.

  20. Claire Page says:

    WOW Elyse thanks for sharing your story and well done for the amazing progress you’ve made on your journey. You’ve had it hard but you’ve carried on despite what’s been thrown at you. I admire you and your strength. Thanks for the inspiration! xxx

  21. Megan Jock says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I lost my husband when he was 26 and I was 23. We had three children ages 6,3, and 15 months. Much like you when I reached the age he was when he died I started to think about how young he was and all of the grief hit me like a ton of bricks along with all the other stresses going on in my everyday life. I was 26 when my panic attacks started.
    I am not 100% recovered but thanks to Barry’s book I no longer cling and cry to my fiancé when he has to leave and I am able to be home more and more. I still have trouble driving alone but work on that little by little.

  22. Julie says:

    A real pick me up on a dark day thank you

  23. Eileen says:

    Elyse…heart wrenching and at the same time a true Profile in Courage. I Wil Re read your story when having a bad day…between DARE and Barry and all of the postings that I have read, I know I will fully recover. Thank you for your words of wisdom.

  24. kelly says:

    Thank you for your inspirational story! I am currently trying to get off of my medication that I have been on for 18 years dealing with anxiety off and on. I ordered the DARE book a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t put it down. I am hopeful this will be the key and tools that will help me be medication free! I am still very apprehensive and thinking I am worse then everyone, but these stories are truly inspiring! Hope your still doing well!

  25. colin dalton says:

    What a marvellous story Elyse. You have so much courage and self belief. You also must have tremendous patience and “never give up” spirit. I have been practising everything that Barry tells us in his book, i’ve read it twice, and only manage to keep going because of the success stories like yours and many others. I have been working on my general anxiety for 9 months now with no success, but I’m going to keep working at it as I do believe that one day I will get there!!! Thank you for your story. Best wishes Colin

  26. Juan sandoval says:

    Thank you so so much. True inspiration.

  27. ladyliming says:

    I have been familiar with Joe Barry’s work since mid 2000 before updated the information to DARE. There are many who understand how to deal with anxiety and panic attacks and how what causes them and book back to the 1950’s so doctors knew all about anxiety, but often chose to give tablets or send people to psychiatrists who gave us strange labels and insisted we would never be cured. Even now they just look at you as if they haven’t a clue in many cases. So often we missed the alternative options, but there was a lot of information and in particular one which we still have a great deal of access to is a lady called Claire Weekes who Joe mentions as one of her mentors, and he works in the same way as she did. She worked in the UK, USA and Australia curing thousands doing talks on the BBC and records at that time as well as having personal clients. Her books, some CD’s are available and also on uTube and although the information is the same as a woman she adds something and also puts things in a way that makes you feel she will take your hand and go with you. She like Joe also suffered from anxiety. It matter little where we get the support as long as we get it. My experience is not very positive as despite having huge amount of knowledge and at one time believing I could overcome I have not as yet but heartily but support all of you who have ignored the negative responses to doctors and looked for something that is working for you.

  28. Ana says:

    You are so brave. Thank you for sharing your story. Struggling with Anxiety can be a lonely road Reading your story gives me hope on my recovery process.

  29. Tammer p Jensen says:

    thank you for sharing your story as i too am on this journey some days i want to give up having asthmas some days makes it hard to breathe so then the anxiety starts i am learning to control this and i am so thankful but i will never give up thank you your story helped me see things in a different new light

  30. Tammer p Jensen says:

    thank you

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