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I'm Laura, a 22 year old designer from Italy. It was a sunny day, 9 years ago, when I had my first unexpected & official date with Mr. Panic Attack. I had never met him before that day. He was not a gentleman, you know? He wasn’t nice; he treated me badly. I was just a shy, 14 year old girl, walking around the city with a friend when I saw an ambulance rescuing a person. This was the first time I met panic.  

I started to sweat, and my head was really confused. I realized that I could be ill like that person, and it terrified me. I was scared to death of the thought that I could die. I ran away and back to my house immediately. I thought that day was the worst day of my life, and it couldn’t be worse in the future, but I was wrong. This was just the beginning of an endless “adventure” with psychologists, treatments, zoloft, xanax, lorazepam, psychiatrists, and the feeling of being different from the others.
Anxiety, OCD and depression taught me many things. Before I had always helped everyone else, but I never helped myself. I realized I was living for others, not for myself.
My life changed; I never went to my friends’ sleepovers again. I started calling my parents from school because I was afraid of death every single moment, so I didn’t want to stay away from home for even 1 or 2 hours. Home was the only place in the world where I felt secure. I couldn’t explain this to my friends, my classmates, or my teachers. I was ashamed to be thinking about these things all the time. I really wanted to stop but I couldn't. Trying to stop only increased the intensity of the thoughts. I became scared of myself, afraid of what I might do.

The doctors tried diagnosing me with OCD, but I had none of the usual physical compulsions like washing my hands to feel clean. The compulsions were in my head and my thoughts, so they were even more difficult to treat. I stayed home from school for one month; I didn’t want to leave my house. I started therapy with Zoloft and Lorazepam, and slowly, I tried to go on.

I met a boy who really helped me, and for over a year I felt better. Eventually, I stopped taking the medicines, but two years later I had another panic attack. I thought I wasn’t afraid of anxiety any more, but I became scared again. I didn’t want to take medicine again, I tried harder to resolve my problems and face the truth, but I failed.

After this long sad story I have shared with you, I want to share the great things too. Anxiety, OCD and depression taught me many things about myself. Before I had always helped everyone else but never myself. Others were always more important than me. I was afraid of telling them “I can’t, I’m busy” because I would feel terribly guilty. I realized I was living for others, not for myself. I’m still learning a lot, and I have to know myself better to improve, and I’m doing the best I can. However I wouldn’t have had this personal growth and insight without anxiety, OCD and depression, so I have to say “thank you.”