Completely new here so let me first fill you in on my back story with anxiety/panic and a little about
myself. I'm 23 years old, male, living on the east coast. For most of my life, I've been plagued with separation anxiety, the condition of getting extremely anxious/panicky when away from familiar areas, loved ones etc. This tends to be something that fades over time with children, and while I had my first bout with it when I was only six(first grade or so), it definitely wouldn't be my last. When I was about
11, I went through a period during the summer of 1996 where I would completely freak out when I wasn't near my parents. I'd worry that I was going to get sick(diarrhea, throwing up etc), while they were out of the house and I was by myself. This particular fear plagued me off and on for the next several years with varying severity. At the time, I did not seek professional help for it because I kept hoping that it would simply 'go away.' Then, it came time for me to go to college. My university was about
forty minutes away from where my parents lived and I knew I'd be living in a single dorm room, so you can imagine the anxiety I felt on move-in day. I was so panicked and nervous that I came close to vomiting several times during the actual move of my computer etc. Suffice to say, the first two weeks in that dorm weren't a lot of fun and I spent a lot of time on the phone with my 'rents who tried valiantly to calm me down. Eventually, I did manage to subdue the fear and push it to the back of my mind. It cropped up in minor form for the rest of my freshman year but nothing major and I did manage to successfully live in a dorm by myself for eight months. It also helped that I had two friends living fairly close-by, one on the floor below me and another in a building just across the courtyard. Sophomore year I had the same problem but with an added addition: both the friends I'd had living close-by the previous year had moved to the other side of campus, and I remained in the same complex. My mind fixated on that for some reason for the first week of the semester and my anxiety became worse than it ever had before. That first week I felt awful and wound up suffering from both de-realization and insomnia. The second week, I was introduced to another guy living in the same complex by a friend of mine and we became good friends over that first semester. Again, just having somebody living close-by that I knew was a comfort. I was able to get past that bout as well and was not plagued badly again until the autumn of 2006, when I entered my last year of college before graduation. I spent my last year of college living at my parents' house and commuting to school, and for a while during that fall everything was fine. Then one night in October while doing some programming work, I suddenly began to think about
the changes that were coming down the pike at me: graduation, entering the real world, getting a job etc. To put it simply, I freaked out and had one of the worst panic attacks I'd ever experienced. Wound up spending the next three hours hunkered in my bed alternately shaking and trying to read and watch TV to take my mind off it. Eventually I exhausted myself and got relief as I fell asleep.
For the next eight months I would be bothered by extreme panic attacks and anxiety that would come in cycles: they would last for about
four to five weeks and then disappear for a few months. I finally bottomed out in February of this year and went to the school counseling center, as the anxiety had become so bad that it was severely affecting my ability to do work properly. I was skeptical about
seeking help but the school counseling center turned out to be a wonderful experience. I really felt that a team was working with me to fight my problems. It was also suggested that I try low dosages of some common anti-depression/anti-anxiety SSRI medication, and I was put on 10mg of Lexapro. Slowly but surely, I got back on my feet and wound up successfully completing my final semester. I'm proud to say that I graduated on the 26th of May this year. I was offered a job a month later by the very university I had graduated from. Upon hearing this news I was incredibly happy: I'd spent some great times through college(despite anxiety), and knowing that I'd be able to stay close to that environment was a wonderful feeling.
That brings us to the present. I'm now on a lower dosage of the Lexapro as I'm being stepped off it, and will cease it completely in October. While I lived with my parents for the last year of college, I've found having an 8-4:30 job every day with a 40-minute commute both in the morning and the afternoon gets exhausting pretty quickly. To cut down on the commute time, I very recently(three weeks ago), opted to move out of my parents' house and into an apartment about
eight minutes from where I work. This also means however that I'll be about
45 minutes away from my parents. Now, I'm 23 and will be 24 next April. I don't want to be living with my parents until I'm 35. However, I was given the keys to my apartment last Thursday and I began moving some furniture and stuff in this weekend. For the last five hours I've been experiencing a feeling I haven't had since sophomore year of college: fear of the unknown, fear of being away from my folks, fear of being out my own. As so often with anxiety, the fear I have for the situation is much worse than the situation itself. I'm moving into an apartment in a town where I know several people(I have many friends still at the university and others who graduated with me who decided to take apartments in the surrounding area), and where I'm literally a five-minute drive away from the house of a good friend. For some reason, I'm still having this fear of living in an apartment complex where I don't know anybody.
So...sorry this was so long and rambling, but I did well in group therapy and it helps immensely to write my feelings out. It also helps to hear of similar stories from other people and coping mechanisms they might have used to at least get through the worst of their anxiety until they'd settled down. The university counseling center is only available to students, not employees, so I no longer have that resource. I chose HealingWell after reading some of the posts on here. Please, let me know if you've had similar experiences and if so, what helped. Thank you so much!