My name is Dan. I was 49 years old when I started suffering from panic disorder. I was a very happy person, living a good life. Then, late January 2015, I started experiencing neck pain, severe headaches and dizziness. This was all new to me. As it came to be, I was burned out from the working conditions at my job. Then things turned progressively worse.
The suffering was unbearable. I became housebound for a short time due to the fear of having a panic attack. The panic, fear, and derealization was like living in a constant nightmare except – it felt real. I did not think it was humanly possible to have a strange condition like this.
I was diagnosed with anxiety, depression and anxiety disorder. When I first started getting dizziness, headache and neck pain, I went to my general doctor. He thought it was an inner ear condition because of my dizziness. I went for a balance study. Then, I went to a neurologist, and he sent me for an MRI. Everything came back fine. This whole process took months, with a lot of time in between doctors. There were also a few trips to the emergency room.
Then, after all that, my doctor started looking at anxiety and depression. I still wasn’t getting the answers I needed, so I started going to a psychiatrist and a therapist. That was a slow process. The therapist was giving me a small amount of information at every session. I was leaving her office more confused and afraid. I needed to know about this condition in more detail. I started to do research online to find people with this condition. That’s when I found Neal. That’s when the healing began.
My first session with Neal: He broke everything down about the condition with writing the sensations and thoughts down on paper to see it. I got more out of one session with Neal than I did with all the other doctors combined.
I think the most important part of healing was understanding and educating myself about the panic disorder. The CBT is what gave me the education that I was looking for. It also came to my understanding that my depression was caused from my anxiety – because I never suffered from clinical depression in my life.
When I started CBT with Neal, I was already on medication. The medication helped to calm me down to where the anxiety was bearable. But it took time to find the right SSRI. It was hard for me getting on these drugs, because of the side effects and the fear of the unknown.
In conclusion, these are the thing that helped me the most: CBT, physical exercise, supportive family, and prayers.
My timeline for recovery was from November 5, 2015 – my first session with Neal – until around May 2016. I just finished weaning off my SSRIs on July 17, 2017. I cannot find words to describe how happy I am again.