When Anxiety Attacks

What I thought would be a fun trip to the nail salon with my mom let me know I had a bigger problem with anxiety than I thought.

| 4 min read
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Starr Picklesimer
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This day started out like all the rest. I woke up, did my morning treatments, ate breakfast, and got ready to go get my nails done with my mom. This is a long-running activity, and it's always a good day. We get mother-daughter time and we pick out the nail color we will wear for the next two to three weeks. That may not sound very exciting, but to me it's fun. I get to feel out my energy, my mood for that moment, and pick a color that goes with it.

Someone other than my regular guy was about to start on my nails and, in that moment, my heart began to race, my palms got sweaty. I pulled at my hands and fingers. I started biting my lips, my body shook, and water filled my eyes. For the first time, my anxiety became a disturbance to my public life. Up until this point, I thought I had everything under control. But it was in this moment I knew it had gotten out of hand. I knew something needed to change.

Growing up with cystic fibrosis, you learn about all the physical stuff that could happen. You learn about what happens when you get an infection, that hospital stays are inevitable, that doing treatments multiple times a day is meant to help keep us healthy. But I never thought that anxiety would come into my life the way it did.

When I heard people talk about anxiety, it was never something I thought I would deal with myself. Hospital visits started for me when I was 17. After that, I was constantly in and out of the hospital with infection after infection. I soon developed anxiety and depression. It began small with just some finger pulling and lip biting.

That day in the nail salon I knew I needed a little more help than I was giving myself, so I reached out to my care team to help me find a therapist to talk with. I am also looking into more methods of treatment like meditation and yoga. This way, I can learn new ways to control my breathing when I feel my chest get tight and my heartbeat gets faster.

I will try every single thing out there before starting any anxiety medication. Although anxiety medications work well for many of the people who take them, I just know it would not be the best fit for me. Though this was a difficult day for me, having that public anxiety attack opened my eyes and made me realize that covering up my anxiety is not solving anything.

Looking back, I'm not sure why I decided to cover it up instead of seeking more help and learning different treatments. I know now that it's no longer something I can or should cover up. It needs to be talked about more so that people who need help can find it, and also know they are not alone.

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So many people suffer from anxiety and it can be managed with the right treatment plan. Anxiety is common in the CF community because of all the uncertainty that comes with hospital stays, treatment of infections, and CF clinic visits. But hopefully my anxiety will decrease with the help of these new techniques and if I happen to have another attack in public, I'll be better prepared to handle it.

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Emotional Wellness
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Starr, 21, lives in Florida with her family and her four-legged baby girl. An online student at Southern New Hampshire University, Starr is studying psychology with the ultimate goal of becoming an abnormal psychology professor. Although currently not working, she considers the gym her part-time job, as she trains for Crossing for a Cure 2020.

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This site contains general information about cystic fibrosis, as well as personal insight from the CF community. Opinions and experiences shared by members of our community, including but not limited to people with CF and their families, belong solely to the blog post author and do not represent those of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, unless explicitly stated. In addition, the site is not intended as a substitute for treatment advice from a medical professional. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your treatment.