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A life of Agoraphobia, Panic Disorder, PTSD, Social Anxiety, and Bullying.
*Here is a short background on my history of being bullied...
So, growing up, from around the age of seven to twelve, I was horrendously bullied. I don't mean "pushed in a locker and laughed at" bullied, but badly. I was made fun of by my so-called "friends" all those years. The main bully was like the "kingpin" of the entire neighborhood. He was a real piece of work, and he had his little followers and buddies. Anyway, for all those years, I'd be relentlessly bullied about the clothes I'd wear, being fat, the way my hair looked, my family... that's just the verbal side. Physically, they've all done some disgusting things to me. There are two main things I remember most that impacted me badly. One of them was when we were playing baseball at the schoolyard and I was the catcher. The "kingpin" thought it'd be cute to swing a wooden bat directly into my forehead at full force after being upset at striking out. It left a gigantic fist-sized lump on my head and I suffered a concussion. I didn't cry. I didn't speak. I was just in awe and remained silent. I just got up and walked back to my house down the block. I ended up being taken to the hospital for X-Rays. Had to stay overnight to check on the swelling to make sure it didn't affect my brain because it was that unbelievably large of a contusion. Another time, we were riding our bikes, and we were all into BMX and loved hitting ramps and dirt jumps. We decided to build a ramp outside my house and start jumping it. We were having fun, things were peaceful, but the "kingpin" was getting jealous because I was getting more air than him off the jump, so as we were taking turns, my turn came up and he and another friends threw clumps of dirt and rocks at my face, getting in my eyes and blinding me while in midair. I fell on the back of my head after pushing my bike away and was gushing blood. I really was blinded too, as the dirt got right in my eyes. I couldn't see a thing. Thankfully, the blood from my head came just from a large cut that didn't seem to need stitches, but I felt so traumatized. The bullying went on and on, and sometimes I'd be the bully to try to impress my other friends and maybe get them off my back, so I'd beat up random kids who seemed mentally weaker than me. There was this one kid that is forever engraved in my mind, Ted. Ted lived around the corner from me and was a genuinely nice kid. Never a problem child. One day as he was walking home from school, I stopped him in front of my house and beat the living shit out of him for absolutely no reason and without warning. There was no reason why. I just thought that if I acted like the bully, they'd leave me alone and respect me for the time being. It always worked too, and any time I did something to another, I was usually in the clear from being bullied myself for the day. My attempt at being a bully got so bad that I started holding grown men at knife point and was robbing them of their money. It was all so wrong to me. This wasn't who I was. My heart broke every time I did something like this to another. I despised it, but I was so desperate to try to come off as this "kingpin's" equal that I resorted to the most insane things to try to instill respect and fear in them. My desperation never worked. They would still all line up late at night on the corner, taking turns for a few hours making jokes about how fat I was. I became so self-conscious with my body, and to this day that shit traumatizes me and I'm still highly self-conscious about how I look. Childhood bullying truly does last into adulthood in some aspects, because your brain gets trained to absorb that history as you develop and it becomes you. Eventually, the bullying stopped as I got older because I started getting bigger, and then during one fateful day, I beat the crap out of this "kingpin" in a little "just for fun" wrestling match on another neighbor's lawn. We became distant that year, so he didn't fully realize what I've been up to, but I was training in Kickboxing, Wrestling, and Tae Kwon Do. I was beginning to become a monster, and I tossed this kid around like a ragdoll. From that day forward, he respected me enough not to screw with me and we decided to end the friendship, without even saying a word. He was clearly humiliated, so we just went down our own paths.
*Age 8, me holding my niece in a funny position, 1993.
*This is to give you an idea of where I've come from and how the lifestyle is...
When I was ten years old, I got into drugs and drinking. Yes, ten. I had a bunch of friends my age and a few years older, and we basically would share everything and just give out whatever it was we had. Mostly I did it because I was young and bullied back then so the peer pressure got to me and I thought it was safer than getting made fun of or being beaten up. Where I come from is known as the most deadly drug city on the east coast aside from a city in Jersey, and kids die here every day from drugs and suicides related to drugs. It may seem crazy to hear, but the drugs are so bad here in this city, it's the smallest population of people in NY yet we have more death by drugs than there are car accidents in the entire NY state. Heroin is the drug of choice here because it's dirt cheap. I've lost many of my best friends to overdoses and suicide, and there are things that just stick and stay with me forever. I am starting off telling you all of this as a premise to understand where I come from to help the story seem more understandable.
*This is a 15 minute read of my life story...
So, one day me and a bunch of friends were smoking up in the woods by my house. It was a usual night basically, but for me this night became very different. I was smoking but something was happening to me. I was getting these odd chills in my body and my mouth was getting more dry than your typical cotton mouth from a joint. I started becoming afraid and I was trembling, and I had no idea why. I thought it was a bad reaction to the weed, or maybe it was laced, but it was fine. Growing up under all that pressure and bullying just built up and it decided to explode all at once in that moment. Suddenly, something clicked in my head and my body went into full panic mode. I was only eleven or twelve at the time, so I wasn't aware of what was going on, but my mouth was so dry it started to hurt and I desperately needed water, so I left without speaking(because I couldn't) and went to run home as fast as possible for water. I was beginning to get what felt like vertigo and getting very dizzy where my body was so weak it was difficult to stand, so I got desperate and started ringing peoples' doorbells hoping someone would answer so I can ask for water. I didn't care how it looked, I just thought I was going to die. I truly thought I was dying. I rang the bell to one house... no answer. Then a second, no answer again. Finally, the third, someone answered, and by a miracle it was a kid I knew from school who was in my class. I didn't know he lived there and we weren't the closest of friends, but I made hand gestures like I was drinking and tried saying "water, water!" The look on his face was priceless - brimming with shock, and he just went back in his house. He got me a cup of water as fast as he could. I took a few sips and said, "thank you." Then began running home again. I'm about halfway there now, but suddenly I lost muscle control and just fell. I had passed out in the street for what I believe was about five minutes. I woke up with some pebbles stuck to my face and I ran again trying to reach home. I finally did. I started drinking and eating random stuff to try to get some saliva back in my mouth, I brushed my teeth a few times, I did anything I could think of. I was beginning to feel fine, and I had no clue why, but later in my life I realized it wasn't anything that I did. It was actually because I was home and I was having a panic attack. I realized this many years later.
So after that hellish night, I stopped drugs completely. It was a fun year and a half, but I was too afraid to go near the stuff, so I would hang out with friends and just stand there smoking cigarettes while they all get high on whatever it was they had that day. This became typical for a while until my relations with drugs just had me become distant from everyone and we barely ever hung out. I met another friend, who introduced me to another friend, and so on and so forth... and I had a whole new crew of people in my life.
For two years I had been fine with no issues, and for the first time, I had dozens of friends that were actually true friends. Some I already knew from the past but was never close with, but I became close with them now. We were good kids, but we'd still have fun and we would drink on the weekends and just get rowdy with the girls... usually about thirty of us(more or less) just hanging out and meeting at a neutral spot in a shopping plaza since it was in the middle of where everyone lived. I became confident, did a lot of martial arts and kickboxing for a few years. Shit was going great. I had people I loved for the first time, as well as way too many girlfriends. I felt on top of the world, with all the girls wanting ME of all people, and these people began relying on me like I was a leader. I was respected and relied upon. I never felt that. It was fantastic.
I was thirteen years old, doing what any normal thirteen year old would do. Just hanging around and keeping company with friends. We would always meet up at a shopping plaza near my house since it was sort of like the "middle area" in location to where we all lived, like previously mentioned. One of these days though, the plaza was crowded by a gang from a neighboring town and they were causing trouble. They were harassing store owners and messing with drivers. I'm assuming some of the store clerks called 9-1-1, and you'll find out why later. Anyway, I took it upon myself to get them out of the area. They knew me from school and respected me out of fear mostly because I'm a big, mean dude, even for a thirteen year old. You don't often see a thirteen year old kid with a full beard so I kinda give credit to puberty for that one. Anyway, they all left. I got them out of there simply by talking with them. I told them how they were disrespecting people I know in my town and wanted them to calm down or leave. So, an hour passed and the whole mess cleared. Me and a bunch of my friends decided to walk down the block to another friend's house, which was across the street from the shopping plaza we always hung out at.
*Age 13, Taken in 2001.
One of my friends is disabled. He has some sort of condition with his hip and cannot walk properly. He was in a little pain at the moment and needed a rest, so we sat on a patch of grass down the block from my friend's house by a place called The Elks Club, still only just across the street from the shopping plaza. I was the only one that stayed behind and waited for him, and told my friends we will meet up with them in a bit once our friend rested a bit. He was sitting on this giant rock and we were just talking. Suddenly, three grown men came down the grassy hill from the opposite side of the property and started walking toward me and my friend. They were dressed in regular clothing, looked like typical New York assholes, so I stood in front of my friend in case these guys were looking for trouble. These three men came up to us and started asking me questions about what I was doing there and why, and as they are asking, I am not responding and instead asking them the question, "Who are you?" They said they were cops, but I didn't believe it, and these guys didn't even appear from a police car or anything. They didn't have a badge to show either. They ignored me and just repeatedly told me to take my hands out of my pockets, which they weren't even in. They were on my side. I told them to leave because they were starting to piss me off, and one of the guys in front of me slapped my wrist while the other two circled me like dirty thugs.
Next thing I know, I spent fifteen minutes in sight of the public against a busy road getting beaten down by three grown men. No cars or people stopped. People watched. No one said anything. There was complete silence. I didn't even fight back at first. I let them do their thing until they were done, but they kept kicking me, punching me, they even grabbed me by my hair and started beating my face into a pile of rocks. I was gushing blood everywhere. I still didn't fight back. Then one cop told another to go after my friend. I told them to leave him alone because he is disabled, but the one cop started approaching him with handcuffs out, so I got pissed and started fighting back. I clinched and kneed one guy in the face and sliced his forehead open, then broke another's nose and threw the third officer on top of them. I'm a big, powerful dude, and not to mention trained to fight, so I took control of the three of them the best I could and told them that they can handcuff me and do what they want if they leave him alone. So after fifteen minutes of this mess, they finally got me in cuffs and walked me to a black car on the other side of the hill.
Now, at this point, I thought I was being kidnapped. I still did not believe these were cops. They sure as hell did not act like cops. So I get thrown in the car and they repeatedly make threats and insults at me while I'm in the backseat. We had a little war on words and I gave them some speech about the way they're living their lives. Eventually, we got to the police precinct. I was placed in jail while handcuffed to a chair. Can you imagine my anxiety? I was just a thirteen year old kid helping his friend and community. Honestly, I thought they were going to kill me, but like I said, after a little drive we arrived at a police precinct. My father picked me up after the cops charged me with resisting arrest, public intoxication, loitering, and a bunch of other stuff. None of which was true. I went home, and since that day, even to today, I carry that memory in my mind because it stole my pride and self-respect. I felt worthless, and the people who respected me and believed in me most saw and heard about it. I was their protector, someone to look after them. I cared a lot about my friends, and I never wanted them to see me like that. Those cops stripped me of all I was, and mentally I just never recovered. I tried, but I just wasn't me anymore.
*Age 13, two weeks after police attack, 2001.
Eventually, I turned fourteen and was afraid to leave my house. I still did, but I was just afraid. The anxiety grew and got worse and worse. I ended up afraid to walk down the block, and I only went out in my backyard, so instead of the shopping plaza we would all gather at, my friends would come to my yard. We did this for like three months. I even dated two girls in my yard without even leaving my own yard! No clue how that is possible, but I did! Eventually my body couldn't take all the anxiety and I collapsed in panic. I didn't want to fight it anymore. I ended up dropping out of school illegally. I was only six months into the ninth grade. Needless to say, I eventually became severely agoraphobic, having up to sixteen panic attacks a day. I never left my house again. For four(five in total) straight years, I never touched my front door... I never smelled the air of the outside. I rarely saw the sun for weeks at a time because I'd like being awake at night when the world was calm and quiet. I never touched a human being for most of those four years, and never continued my education in high school. I became afraid of everything, even shaving, showering, or moving in a certain way. I was so afraid. I was mentally scarred and no one helped me.
Now, before my collapse and agoraphobic behavior, I had many court appearances in front of a judge. There was a lot because the arresting officer that night of the beating never made an appearance in court, so the judge threw the case out. Me and my family tried to find a lawyer to sue the NYPD, but all the lawyers wanted interviews, and when we discussed the circumstance of the situation, all the lawyers would decline to work for us. Eventually, we gave up, and then that's when my aforementioned issues started. I lost my life as a teenager. I never went to school. I stayed locked in my bedroom with a computer for the next several years, alone. My parents didn't take the mental issues serious and generally thought I was just lazy, and they'd get mad at me, especially my father, so they basically let me rot. It usually comes with the territory when older generations don't understand what a mental disorder is. They assume you can just get over it, but in many cases it is in fact, a medical condition that only stems from something impacting your life or genetics. I may have never gone to jail, but those police still locked me up emotionally in my own home. For what? Why? What reasoning did they escalate this situation on a child?
I eventually found a girl online who was very sweet to me and tried getting me out of my house. We ended up together for close to six years, but my panic and anxiety issues eventually pushed her away. I've worked several jobs since at homeless shelters and for UPS, but I'd eventually quit or get laid off due to anxiety or physical problems that I developed from four years of horrible living treatment, such as my stomach hernia which can not be repaired, my horrible arthritis, and my dizzy spells. I still fight every day but right now I'm broken, unemployed, and hurting. I'm broke, 27 years old, and still living with my parents who I take care of in the house since my father is a heart attack survivor and my mother has Multiple Sclerosis. So I do all the heavy lifting of things around the house, or help my mother with opening a bottle or jar, but I'm in pain myself so often I can barely do much more, so I'm really not as big of a help as I want to be or wish to be. These are all subjects I'm going to get to in more detail now.
One day, I woke up and got a call that my best friend was coming out of rehab after being away for eight months. Me and some friends got really excited to see him again. He came back and it was awesome. We were so happy, but the anxiousness of that day and the excitement started getting the better of me because I knew I couldn't go out and go past my house to visit him. I started feeling really sick. My body just felt like it was shutting down. My throat closed up, I had difficulty breathing... so I told my friends I need to go to bed and that I was feeling sick. Next thing I know, I pass out in my bathroom after a shower out of the blue. I woke up from passing out and was brutally ill. I could not breath. I couldn't eat, drink, walk... I was just in SO much pain. I was gasping for air, struggling so hard to breath. I then spent the next sixteen days in bed eating ramen and cereal since I couldn't eat anything else due to how difficult swallowing was. My parents left me be and didn't try to help. I thought it was a bad cold or bronchitis, so I'd beg them to buy me cold medicine, and after a few days they did and it didn't work. Eventually, the pain went away and I started catching my breath again. Something was very wrong with me though mentally. I had no idea why but I was just afraid to ever go outside from that day forward.
Unbelievably... I spent four years straight without ever touching the front door. I never went out again. I had about thirteen panic attacks a day and my body was always stressed and tired. I kept feeling like I was dying several times a day. No one helped me. My friends didn't understand it and just abandoned me because they thought it was ME who abandoned THEM. My parents let me rot and did nothing. My hair grew long down to my shoulders, I had a massive beard. I nicknamed myself Osama because of it. I was afraid to do ANYTHING. I was scared to turn my body in bed into a certain position, or to eat certain foods. I couldn't watch TV sometimes... I was scared of EVERYTHING. I rarely even saw the sun. I'd go weeks without seeing the day because I only felt at peace at night. I rarely saw my parents either and we lived in the same house. My father would mentally abuse me about getting a job, to grow up, to "just go out." He didn't understand anxiety or panic disorder. He'd constantly tell me to get over it. To stop. To help around the house. He wouldn't even take a day off of work for me, and didn't even think about helping to take me to a doctor. I was alone, in solitude, suffering multiple times a day, afraid of just being alive. I literally spent four long years without even setting foot outside. Never seeing a human. Forgetting the touch of another person.
I illegally dropped out of school in the middle of the 9th grade(I just never went) and never got to graduate. I lost all my friends, my teen years, my education... I lost everything. I was nobody. I was forgotten, even by my school. They didn't even bother to call to ask why I haven't been present. My only outlet of living was the internet and the computer in my bedroom. To take my mind off my pain and anxiety, I'd talk with people online. I'd even educate myself and studied things like Sociology, Cognitive Therapy, Psychology, and I would teach myself better English by reading the dictionary and learning proper punctuation and grammar. I became an expert at things related to computers, from building them, to modding them, from hacking them. I became a graphic designer, a script editor, I was a hacker for a little while, I learned how to encode video, to subtitle video, to use After Effects and do CGI, to write scripts for programs and build websites with HTML and CSS. I was even writing poetry and short stories to help escape my anguish. If there was any positive thing that came from my hellish four years, it was that it gave me the time to become educated and learn, and become far more knowledgeable than if I were to be in school. My school was bad anyway because even when I went, it was so ghetto people would light fires in the classroom for fun, and nobody learned shit. It was a mess. The internet literally saved my life and kept me smart, because I didn't always just look at pictures of cats with hamburger addictions.
*Age 16, hair overgrown, but managed to shave the beard, 2005.
So four years of this went by... panic attack after panic attack, secluded as usual, using the internet to further understand and educate myself. Around the third year of my anxiety and fear of going out, I started talking online to a girl I would hang out with back in the day,(before I went all crazy.) We talked and we shared a lot. She got me to actually talk with her on the phone, and a few months later we started hanging out in my backyard. Yes, she managed to get me to see the outside again. I trusted her. We ended up in a relationship for five years after that, although after sticking by me for a year, slowly getting me to come back out into the world, I still had issues that weren't fixed. She still helped save me. I had a pretty normal life after that. I still fought and struggled desperately to be social and be around people, but I was working my first job at UPS, then I got back involved with a few of my best friends from the past... things were looking up. I was put on SSRI medication to help alleviate the anxiety from overtaking my life. It was unbelievable. After about a month on the medication, I was doing things I never thought I'd ever do again. I truly thought I was going to die in my home. It was such a good feeling working in 105F weather with no AC in a shipping warehouse for UPS at 3AM every night unloading thousands of boxes from trailers that probably weigh more than the average person. Most people complained about the job, but I was so prideful. I was alive! I was living! I was making my own money! I used to get there an hour early to get a head start on the workload, even. I'd also stay late to finish the jobs and clean up even though my muscles were sore from the 15,000 boxes I had to lift and put on conveyor belts.
*Age 19, starting to rehab and become a working man, 2008.
There was still an issue. I became self-conscious because the medicine made me gain a large amount of weight, and the muscle mass didn't help. I blew up to 286 pounds. I hated being seen and was ashamed of myself, because not only did it make me gigantic, but it gave me a sweating problem where even the smallest task made me pour out massive amounts of sweat, so I tried getting off the medication. I weened off according to the doctors instructions, but guess what? I relapsed back into anxiety. I dealt with it at first and tried my hardest to overcome it, and it was fine... until one day at work, I was unloading the trucks and a 250 pound fireplace/heater combo thing fell from fifteen feet high in the truck I was working in and hit me in my back. I couldn't move for a minute. I was paralyzed for a bit. It ended up being because of the nerves in my back. I slightly compressed my lower vertebrae and had to leave work and register for disability for a while. I had a bunch of tests done on me and I was feeling really sick again for some reason... in a way that I could tell it wasn't just my back, but it felt internal. I ended up finding out and being diagnosed with arthritis, pinched nerves, hiatal stomach hernia, severe reflux disease, etc. Apparently, I was living with some of this for a long time without knowing, but when it all got worse from that injury at work, and had all these tests done, I finally had legit answers. The hernia I had for a few years undiagnosed, and is now permanent. A piece of my stomach is actually pushed up into my diaphragm and there is nothing holding back the acid in my stomach now, so my eating habits are VERY strict now and I take medication for that. I went to a chiropractor for a few months but it was doing more harm than good. During all this, my anxiety levels were increasing as I had been off medication and going through another serious chapter in my life. Then, hell broke loose.
During my recovery while trying to get situated back into life, my girlfriend left me, and it happened when I needed her most, but she said she couldn't deal with it again or bother anymore. She just left me. She wasn't going anywhere with me so I don't really blame her. She quit on me. I accepted it... then, my best friend from the past died from a drug overdose, and my other best friend committed suicide by jumping in front of an oncoming train. I fell into depression and self-pity. I was alone again, but this time I knew what was going on and was fighting to the death to win. Unfortunately, I came down with an illness. That odd internal feeling I mentioned earlier that happened after my UPS injury? That's what we found. What was the illness? Well, I didn't know. Couldn't find out. I went to doctor after doctor after doctor for an entire YEAR trying to figure out why I was in pain. I was losing weight drastically too. I went from 286 to 185. Something was VERY wrong. Doctors couldn't figure out why and they all blamed it on my history of panic disorder and anxiety. Because once you mention you have had a mental issue, that somehow becomes the answer to everything that is wrong in your life until the day you die, and it's NEVER physical (sarcasm). Then, I started getting denied by doctors and couldn't see them anymore because my insurance wasn't covering me. I called the insurance company... they said my contract with UPS ran out, and UPS never notified me, and many of my bills were not getting covered. Without realizing it, I ended up in several thousand dollars in debt because no one told me my insurance was gone! Great, just what I needed, right? Debt. Another problem. So I call my job and ask what's going on. Turns out, my boss had left the company and some new guy replaced him, and because no doctor could find out what was wrong with me and report to UPS to continue my disability, UPS fired me... without telling me. The new guy had no idea who I was and put me on a "no hire" list for the company. I am never allowed to work for UPS again, ever, after years of dedicated work there, and an injury. So now I lost my job, my insurance, my girlfriend, two of my best friends, my health, and got nothing but medical debt.
At this point, I was at an all time low. The pain was insane mentally as it was physically. Anxiety came back in full force and I relapsed. I needed help, bad. I was in so much pain, sick as hell... didn't know why, until a year later. So I'm mostly sitting in bed for a year, hurt and sick, nobody knows why, and everyone is blaming my history of panic disorder. I lost so much, and attempted to commit suicide. I ended up downing a bottle of painkillers and going to sleep. I figured if no one wanted me around, I might as well disappear. As i drifted to sleep, I felt such peace, as if a smile came across my face. I knocked out pretty fast. Next thing I know, two days have passed and I wake up in a pool of vomit and undigested pills. Apparently a lot still got in my system and screwed me up, and I was in so much physical pain at this point I couldn't move at all. Two days without water though had me waking insanely thirsty. I was so desperate for water. I couldn't get up and walk, but realized it was raining outside, so I threw myself on the floor and crawled to my window. I slid the window open with all of my might and started cupping my hands to catch the water as it fell. I was drinking the rain for at least fifteen minutes, before I felt okay enough to rest again. I ended up laying on my floor and going right back to sleep with my face against the hard wood. No one knew about this, and no one even checked on me for two days. It's unbelievable how rejected and ignored I am even by my own family that they'd leave me rot without worrying for two days.
So now several days pass... I been through a hell of a ride and realized suicide wasn't for me since it seems I was fighting so hard just to live when I woke up after surviving the overdose. I mean, I crawled on my knees to a window to catch rain in my hands to drink... I obviously didn't want to die, but I really needed to let myself go and start living, so I decided to break my diet I was on and eat Chinese food. I stopped caring about the pain and just wanted to enjoy myself. My parents ordered, so I got something for once, on them. It turns out the Chinese food triggered some sort of attack in my body. I was in so much pain, more than I ever was in my entire life, just from eating Chinese food. My breathing nearly stopped completely, and I couldn't bend at all. Couldn't walk... couldn't talk. My father called an ambulance and I went to the hospital. The doctor found out I had gallbladder disease and have been living with gallstones for over a year, and the high fat from the Chinese food triggered the gallbladder attack. I had gallstones the size of a small fist and my gallbladder was swollen to hell. I went in for emergency surgery and had my gallbladder removed. After a year of this mystery pain... I finally found the answer, after all the debt, the losses, the frustration... finally. Finally, I can start trying again at life and get another chance! Thank you, Chinese food! :)
Now I'm still struggling badly with anxiety, and going out became VERY hard for me. After a month of recovery from having my gallbladder ripped out of my bellybutton, I started to see a psychiatrist and therapist, and as much as I didn't want to gain weight again, I went back on medication. I had no choice. Sadly, can you guess what happened? it made me gain weight again... after about a year on it. You know what though? I rather live ashamed of my body than not living at all.
*Age 27, up in weight again back at 290 pounds.
Since then, I moved to Boca Raton, FL and lived six months there. To help cure my anxiety issues, I wanted to do something absolutely substantial and unbelievable - something I thought I'd NEVER do, and that was leave New York for the first time in my life. How did I get to Boca Raton? I fucking drove there by myself in a shitty car with a broken steering column. The balls it took for me to accomplish this task was immense, but I was greatly inspired and helped by my therapist to do this. Also, it helped that we had a "thing" sorta, where we'd flirt and she kinda gave me... "extra attention." I won't get too far into that, but I will say a ladies touch can certainly heal a broken man. So after the twenty hour drive, I got to Boca Raton and crashed with my sister, niece, and brother-in-law. I then started a life and was about to accept a manager's position at Wal-Mart, but I came back home to New York due to my mother. My mother has M.S. She cannot do a lot of things on her own and my father is never home. I made the decision to come back to New York and help stay at home with her to help when she needs it. She was having a real hard time while I was away, and I realized how much she needed someone to be there. My mother, unlike my father, is a sweet person, but not the sharpest tool in the shed. Even though she didn't understand or know how to, she cared and wanted to help me while I was sick. She has her own problems though, obviously, and she did her best to cater to me during those four years.
*Age 24, living in Boca and living 100 pounds lighter.
After that, I got a job as a security officer for a six story family homeless shelter. I did a lot of sitting and doing nothing, but at the same time I was stopping riots and restraining grown ass men and women. I remember one time I even had to tackle a woman for pulling out a box cutter on another woman for taking the last bag of Skittles from the vending machine in the lobby and I had to beat up her husband when he attacked me. Hell, someone even planted a bomb outside my building, and I found it attached to a car and we had the fire department, police, and bomb squad there. It was a crazy job, but for the years I worked there, I had relationships with the children, and I was always playing with them. They have it so rough being poor and homeless and it isn't their fault. I did whatever I could to make them smile. I stayed because of the kids even though I was underpaid and fighting with my boss all the time. Those kids became my pride and joy and I would get so happy seeing them just so I can let them play with my phone or computer, or listen to some of my music... even though the shelter was mostly housing black residents that liked hip-hop and I'm a white guy that likes punk, it was an experience for them since they don't have these things at their disposal. I have a soft spot for kids and always look out for them because of how my childhood went and I never want the things I went through to ever happen to a child within my reach. Eventually, I quit the job due to the fighting with the boss, my hours being reduced, and lack of pay. My boss even told lies to my co-workers to get them mad at me to make going to work uncomfortable. I just said fuck it and quit. I could only stay so long being discriminated against just because I'm a white guy taking up a spot his Nigerian friend wants. I haven't worked a real job since, which was a year and a half ago. I was going to go into school but those plans got cancelled.
I lost so many years in my life that I still never had the chance to live, minus a few years here and there. I may be twenty-eight, but I think in a socially acceptable environment, I'm more like someone who is in their twenties or still in their teens. There are so many things in life I never got to experience, to do, to enjoy. Simple things people do everyday are considered dreams to me. I am alone again, with no friends, but it's okay. I accept what I have and what I am, and finally, for a few years, I've had no severe anxiety issues, but as you can see, the depth of damage the anxiety did to me has set me back so many years and stolen many things in life. I never got to have a teenage life, I never got to have fun. The most I do is take random trips to gyms and seminars to train in MMA and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with famous UFC fighters when they come around. I've trained with some former champions and entered tournaments. I've even trained with the man who started MMA and introduced the world to his family's art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Royce Gracie. I have a picture of me and him on my wall and framed it in a 15x15 frame, because things like this are life achievements to me, so no matter how small something it, to me, it can be the most significant moments in my life. I have pride in myself again thanks to my training in the past in different martial arts and my use of the internet for helping to educate me. But still, there's so much in life I wish for that anxiety took away from me, and right now I'm sorta in a state of purgatory, between good and bad. I'm fine mentally and physically(aside from a few physical pains here and there), but I'm stuck trying to figure out what to do with my life, and I'm still penniless and single, but I stay optimistic for the future. You never know what you might find, even at the strangest of times and places.
*Age 26, after training with martial arts champions and legends, Frankie Edgar, Stephan Bonnar, Royce Gracie, 2011.
This is anxiety, and this is what it is capable of. There are even more terrible details I don't wish to get into just yet, but I shared this because I want to make sure you know that if you ever feel anxious, you have someone in your life now that truly understands you and can relate. If there's someone that knows pain, depression, panic disorder, anxiety, then I am your man. Do not ever feel alone, reach out, and never think of giving up. Even when your mind tells you to, just fight. You don't have to have a reason now, but one day you WILL have a reason and you'll be able to appreciate the life you have. Stay strong, everyone. Don't ever let go.
*Age 28, the current me, 2014.
UPDATE: As of June 2014, I made headlines around the world in papers, TV, and internet. I was sued by the UFC for $32 million dollars. For what? Well, after my job at the homeless shelter, I tried searching for another local job, but never found anything. A year went by and I couldn't get anything. I wanted to do something productive with myself, so I decided I would record those $65 UFC pay-per-view events from TV I was spending money I didn't have on, and share them online. See, not everyone lives in a country where the UFC is available, and not everyone is rich enough to afford these events. I actually paid for the events through donations that fans would send me. People have referred to me as the "Internet Robin Hood." I wanted to spread a product that I loved and make more people in the world aware of it. MMA is my pride and passion, and the UFC is the biggest MMA organization of all. Unfortunately, my donations went through PayPal, and the UFC's legal teams went after PayPal and told them to give up my information, and they did. We ended up battling back and forth until I made them realize that I had no money to give, as I am unemployed and sick. There's more details and information in the links below.
You sound like a fighter. With everything that's on your plate, I'm guessing you'd have to be, just to get through the day. I hope that things ease up on you, and that sharing your story was helpful as to healing somewhat from all the grief you've been through :)
Meaning no offense, but the level of detail involved in your post is making me uncomfortable. I don't believe that the site was meant to host identifying personal information, like photos, and links to newspaper articles about you. It might be genuinely helpful for you to have that out there, but please remember that the site is meant for other people as well... people who might be discouraged from writing by the posting of so much identifying info :( What I might suggest, instead, is the writing of a biographical ebook; this (meaning -nothing- offensive at all) is probably long enough for Amazon. I've published 5-page books on there before. You'll likely reach a lot more people as well!
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