My name Is Clinton Haley. I am a law Enforcement Officer for over 27 years. I have battled Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Depersonalization, PTSD, and Depression for over 35 years.
My problems started at the age of 14. Being very young and with less education on the subject of Panic Attacks and Agoraphobia back then, you can imagine the horror I felt. Mine started with Depersonalization, or what I call the dreamy feeling, that was always a prelude to a Panic Attack. I believe I was genetically and environmentally exposed to the disorder.
Growing up with a mother who suffered from anxiety and panic – and she probably also had some PTSD from an abusive father – I was always a nervous child. My first real attack was at the age of 14. I was going on a trip with my family when I was struck with a dreamy feeling, a feeling like I wasn’t real. I was horrified. Then my heart began to beat hard and fast. I wanted to run or just get out of that car and cry!!
Horrible. I was paralyzed and I was afraid to move. It came fast and was over in about three minutes. I didn’t know what to do. These attacks started happening in intervals, maybe a month or two between attacks. I was afraid and I didn’t want to tell anyone because my mind had already started imprinting and associating moments, landmarks, or situations, with every attack.
I became phobic of traveling in a car, driving a car, mountains, doctors, large buildings. The list of false triggers kept compiling because I was looking for anything, any reason to explain why I was having these episodes. I suffered in silence for years without treatment or any help.
Finally, after 10 to 12 years of this, I couldn’t take any more. I spoke out. I was taken to a Doctor and Psychologist and I was diagnosed with Panic Attacks with Agoraphobia, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, and Depression. I’m trying to be brief, but I suffered a long time.
My job as a Police Officer was very hard to obtain and excel at with this disorder always hindering me. Hiding it was the hardest part. But I did it. Somehow, the stress didn’t bother me during activity and chaos – it was always afterwards that it hit me.
I was prescribed a slew of medicines, but I could not them take due to my job and my fear of medications. Even after being diagnosed, it took years of education, discipline, study and treatment before I began getting any real freedom or relief.
Klonopin seemed to work well for me when I decided to try it. It helped me get some rest and slow my thinking down, so I could focus on healing. Talk therapy and group therapy helped, but didn’t really take away the suffering.
I began CBT with Neal. CBT taught me that the sensations and feelings were just that, feelings and sensations. Neal taught me how to invite them in and deal with them, and not let the fear ruin me.
I began going to church and learning how to pray and have quiet time daily with the Lord. All the therapy did help, the Klonopin helped wonderfully, but the CBT was what really turned my healing process around. Healing in my opinion is a cornucopia of things put together. Your lifestyle, and the way you eat, sleep, meditate or pray – all of this has to work together.
I have seen the horrible side of the world. Evil is tangible to me: it touches me daily. CBT taught me that anxiety was OK – it was warning me. It’s normal to be afraid, especially when you face bad things or hard times. But when you have panic disorder, you panic when the sensations start.
CBT taught me how to stop the spinning arrow in my head, and to listen to my body and allow the sensations. I know I need to breathe, and slow down.
These sensations are now my friend. Has my panic gone away? Almost, but it doesn’t horrify me and frighten me to where I don’t live anymore.
I have written a book on Kindle: its called “499- Living with Panic Attacks, Anxiety, PTSD, Depersonalization, and Depression”. If you would like to read my story in depth, its only $0.99 cents. It was written so people could afford to learn some coping skills and not feel so alone. To let you know you are a Warrior!
I’m not afraid of anyone, I am not weak. I’m trained to handle any deadly encounter that is thrown at me. But I had to learn I am human, and it’s OK to need love and care for your situation and have compassion for yourself.
These disorders have made me stronger and more humble. I look at the public in a different way. I have helped and identified hundreds of people on the street going through the same thing.
My first attack was in 1984. I received treatment and started my road to recovery in 1997. It’s 2019 and I live!!! I am a happier person. I still have episodes and sensations and feelings, but the moral is to never give up! Be a Warrior!
You are Normal. You’re just dealing with a challenge and you will overcome it. God Bless you all. And Thank You Neal!
To find my book, go to Amazon.com and type into the search box:
499- Living with Panic Attacks