I am a 46-year-old male who has been dealing with severe anxiety and depression for over 40 years. I say that because my first memory of this was when I was four years old, just after dealing with spinal meningitis and losing about 80% of my hearing. For most of my life, I have dealt with spiraling depression which, up until I had an auto accident that threw me over the edge and I started taking anti-depressants, nearly threw me into dark places I didn't intend to go.
The anxiety, however, remains to this day. Most of the time, I can keep it at bay on the outside by taking L-Theanine, Valerian Root, 5-HTP, and drinking lavender/chamomile tea or other methods. I was once diagnosed with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and OCD, but because I was so anxious in talking to the psychiatrist to get away from general practioner's "diagnosis" for Bipolar Disorder, I was putting on a front to try and act "normal".
I am always anxious, feeling afraid and nervous about everything in my life. My wife and everyone in my life do not understand what a prison this is and simply tell me I have nothing to worry about and just need to "get over it". Recently, I have come to grips with the stark reality that I am socially anxious and it is now affecting my work (though others will say it doesn't show, but I know it does). I get choked up and start stuttering and subsequently start acting awkward, which makes the other person start to feel uncomfortable. Even in front of my family, I can't act "normal" and it comes across as a lack of confidence, even though I am very confident in who I am and what I do.
I am in the midst of trying such strategies as prayer, mindfulness, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, etc. after reading books to learn how to overcome anxiety and panic attacks (as well as social anxiety). I am most certain I have just about every type of anxiety you can think of and there are times I want it to go away so bad that I will go to extreme measures to find ways to feel nothing or to not have any recollection of my anxiety.
I know in my head that I am not a basket case, but my body tells me differently. It constantly hurts my work and I just don't know what to do. I don't want to see a therapist because my family tells me it's not necessary and it's embarrassing to have to admit this openly. I have told a couple of friends about it and they just say that it will pass...etc. The only thing is that it has never passed...I am always anxious and even two years ago it has dramatically affected my health. I have had a serious operation to take care of the loss of my esophageal valve to the stomach and am now dealing with IBS to where just about everything I eat causes pain and suffering.
I see other people as more important and deserving than me. Most of the time, I will sacrifice everything just to give (not a bad thing entirely), but I will never do something just for myself without intense anxiety and guilt.
Is there anyone out there who has dealt with any of this? I may be handling it the best way possible (perfectionist, yes), but am open to hearing any suggestions from anyone who deals with this same affliction.