The following story features Meghan, a 27-year-old nanny in Massachusetts and participant in our Deconstructing Stigma: A Change in Thought Can Change a Life mental health public awareness campaign. Learn more at DeconstructingStigma.org.
A trip to the local market could send Meg into a severe state of panic.
“Just going to the grocery store and paying for things—that interaction, the eye contact with the clerk, would give me major anxiety,” she says.
Meg’s struggle to control her own emotions began in middle school. The onset of a panic attack—a surge of intense fear accompanied by a pounding heart, sweating, and shortness of breath that can last for minutes—forced administrators to call 911.
Meg spent the majority of her days hiding in the nurse’s office to prevent interaction with others—anything that could set off another attack. The panic attacks and depression followed her into her adult life, where she tried multiple times to kill herself.