About Jill

Hi, I’m Jill Green. I am ’40 -something’ years old and have had panic and anxiety attacks since I was 7.  I wasn’t “officially” diagnosed with panic disorder until 1989, when I was 24 years old.  For years I tried desperately to find out what was “wrong” with me.  I was overmedicated, overwhelmed, and confused for many years (these subjects are addressed in other posts). I suffered greatly.

How My Panic Attacks Started

Apparently I was always highly sensitive, but this turned to anxiety attacks and panic when I was just 7 years old.  At that age, my parents transferred me and my siblings from public school to a Catholic school.  I was only in second grade, but it affected me greatly.  My siblings were affected by the change in schools, but not like me.

I absolutely loved my old school We had 20 kids on our little class. We had fun in school and played outside together after school.  My early school memories are among my happiest.

I adored my kindergarten teacher, who lived just up my street. She had red hair, a huge smile, and I thought she was beautiful. She liked me too.  She would notice things like if I got my hair trimmed. She was openly affectionate and  hugged all her students.  She also was my first grade teacher.  I thought she had us for 2 years because she liked us so much.  I don’t know if that was the case, but that was my memory.  Having the same teacher for 2 years in a row was great, at least for me.

My best friend in the world was in my class in both kindergarten and first grade.  We played together every weekend. I never saw her after we transferred to the new school and I remember missing her.

For the new school, we had to wear these uniforms which I thought looked funny.  We still had to ride on the public school bus, and that’s where I first was shamed and embarrassed by the other kids, due to the awkward looking necktie, jumpsuit and navy knee socks.

My new teacher, Sister J,  was a very tall, ancient nun dressed head to toe in her black nun uniform. Her wrinkled face and hanging jowls seemed  squeezed out of that white head thing she wore on her flowing nun headdress. No one knew if she had hair. She scared the living daylights out of me at first sight.  And she was mean, which I would come to find that out soon.

One of my first days in school I wore blue nail polish. She made me stand in front of the class with my arms out for I don’t remember how long, as punishment. But it was long enough for my  shoulders to ache, and get laughed at.  Then I was made to scrape the nail polish off with an open safety pin, supplied by Sister J.

I knew no one in my new school.  And there were cliques among the girls, which I noticed immediately. In time I was singled out and made to feel “poor” because my mother sewed my blouses, the only part of the uniform we were allowed to change.  There were a lot of rules in the new school.  and I felt pretty helpless at the time.  We were only allowed to go to the “lavatory” 2 times a day. Never having heard the word, I thought it was called the laboratory.  One of the popular girls made fun of me for that.

We had to line up in order of height morning and afternoon to go the lavatory.  Being tall, I was always near the end of the line.  I don’t know if we were allowed to go to the lavatory any other time. I never asked.

I remember one time in the beginning of second grade a girl peed her pants in the middle of class.  The urine ran down her chair and formed a how to stop panic attacksgrowing puddle. That horrified me.  She was crying and that’s the only memory I have of it, except that I became terrified that I would pee my pants in class too.

And that, essentially is the trauma that caused me to start having panic attacks at 7 years old:  Going from completely accepted and loved (at the old school) to the punitive, scary new school, where I felt alone, different and less than with the constant thought in my mind that I would shame myself by peeing my pants.

It took me many, many years, and thousands of dollars in therapy to figure this simple story out.

From a frightened second grader to a married mom in my mid thirties, my life with panic disorder, agoraphobia, and social anxiety disorder was very difficult and painful.  There were many times over the years I thought about ending it all, but I was too chicken. I was afraid to die and afraid to live.  It truly was a sad way to live.

Why am I telling you this?

Because you don’t have to suffer like I did.  I am able to control both my panic disorder and social anxiety disorder today.  Today thankfully, there  are excellent resources and for people who suffer (and I do mean suffer) from panic and anxiety attacks.

You are not alone, although it may feel like you are.  I know what it’s like to think no one understands your troubles, not your family, not your doctor, and certainly not your friends.  How could they? Their lives seem so…normal.

This mission of this blog is to provide tips and resources for panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic attacks, and agoraphobia. Over the past 10 years, I have been privileged to find some of the best anxiety self help solutions for me.  That is why I offer them to you.

I hope you find this site to be useful, and above all, I wish you peace.

Jill G.

“Hi Jill you’ve been the best help I’ve had, better than any therapist or psychiatrist I’ve seen, wish we lived close you deserve a lovely huge bunch of flowers… – Rosetta”

Be Sociable, Share!

34 Responses to About Jill

  1. tony says:

    Hi, Jill.
    fair play to you for opening your heart on this subject. I am sure other sufferers will gain strength from your articles.
    Keep up the great work
    Tony.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Have you tried the Linden Method? Is it useful?

  3. Kelly says:

    Do you think anti-depressants helped you or hindered you?

    • JillG says:

      Well as I understood it when they were first prescribed to me over 20 years ago, I needed the antidepressants to augment the anti anxiety medication. Overall though, I think they have helped me.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Jill, I can so relate to your childhood. Those nuns were brutal weren’t they? They gave me my share of social anxiety as well :-(

    Great story and I think so many people can relate and you’re a great inspiration for others because they can know that there is hope.

    • JillG says:

      Seriously Elizabeth, I have talked to so many people who have been traumatized by nuns. I vowed I would never ever put a child through Catholic school because of my horrible experiences, even tho it was so long ago.

  5. mariana sievers says:

    Dear Jill
    Thank you so much for your reply
    My daughter has unfortunately had more panic attacks , we finally had our first appointment with the therapist (which went pretty well) she is going to begin with behavioral therapy . It seems to have calmed a little the situation but she she still has this aggresive outbursts toward us . (hard for us to understand?
    is it her coping mechanism?)
    Her other coping mechanism has been to gradually increase her needs (a hot chocolate , a tea, a light on, changing rooms etc and with us always there , I guess to push back her moment of going to bed
    We try and do everything for her in order to prevent her anxiety , panic attacks and aggressive behavior
    I know you have been through those terrifying feelings and understand it better than us , are we doing what is right for our daughter?
    During the day she seems to be fine , usually in a good mood (sometimes she does have mood swings), and goes to school looking tired but in good spirits
    Waiting to hear from you and thank you so much
    Mariana

    • JillG says:

      Hi Mariana

      Well first of all, I’m glad to hear that the therapy went well. (We had some horrendous experiences with therapists.) As long as the therapy is helpful and calming to her, I’d say keep up with it.

      I’m not surprised to hear that your daughter had more panic attacks, as they don’t usually go away on their own. So try not to be too concerned about this- they will probably stick around for awhile.

      Not sure about the aggressive outbursts. If I had to venture a guess, maybe it’s because of her age? I know my 14 year old lashes out at me and her father when she is afraid of something. At the time we don’t see that fear is the trigger, and we’re usually thrown off guard by the actual fighting and arguing. Later when it cools off, we can see that she was simply afraid and too “cool” or whatever to tell us.

      This was the case in our house recently when she started fighting with us about going to her ski team meets. It took us a few weeks and lots of detective work to figure out that she had anxiety about the competitions because she had fallen and I guess humiliated herself. She insisted that everything was “fine” with skiing and we were the problem.

      Your daughter’s coping mechanisms sound like they are bringing her comfort. And it certainly sounds like you are doing everything right. So definitely keep it up. Know that nights are going to be tough for awhile. Maybe weeks, maybe months–but not forever.

      I do have a suggestion for you to check out. The Anxiety Free Child is a program I reviewed a few weeks ago and found to be something I can recommend for children with panic attacks. It is designed for children from ages 5-15, so it definitely can benefit your daughter.

      Even if she refuses to read or look at it, which wouldn’t surprise me as teens can be really resistant, you can read it and start implementing the exercises with her right away. You can also explain a lot of stuff to her, like how her thoughts are doing this to her, how she can control her thoughts easily, etc. It’s very practical and useful.

      The author, Rich Presta, has had his anxiety programs seen in a numerous respected platforms like Psychology Today, Time Magazine, and the Discovery Channel.

      In your case I really think it’s worth looking at. Here is a link to the site: http://panicfreeme.com/go/afcp.html

      Good luck and hang in there. You will get through this. :)

      • mariana sievers says:

        Hi Jill
        Thank you so much for your comments and fast answers
        As myself a person who has never experienced this anxiety or panic , it is so frustrating to not fully understand what is going on with my daughter and to not be able to help her more (the same goes for my husband) We are tired and helpless . Thank god the rest of the family has been able to sleep.
        Your words have helped me enormously and hopefully the therapy will help my daughter , I will get the book and keep you posted.
        Thanks again
        Mariana

        • JillG says:

          Hi Mariana,
          It’s exhausting and bewildering and you feel helpless even when you have a history of panic and anxiety. Nothing hurts more than witnessing your child in emotional pain that can’t be helped the way we can treat a cut or soothe a fever. I do wish you all the best as you move forward with your daughter. I know how crappy it feels right now, and I’m not going to sugar coat it and say the road ahead won’t be bumpy. But I can attest that child anxiety responds well to treatment and a compassionate environment. Your daughter is well on her way with you on her side :)

          Many blessings and ((Hugs)),
          Jill

          • mariana sievers says:

            Dear Jill
            Thanks again for your comments
            My daughter is better but as you said we still have bumpy nights.
            This week she had a class trip and she wasn´t able to go (attest from the doctor). What is also sad , is the stigma a problem like this carries (what will the others say etc not that everybody knows but you know how teenagers are) and therefore also a burden for my daughter who at the moment is going through a very difficult time . As a panic sufferer yourself do you have any comments on this? Your comments have helped me a lot in order to give my my daughter more support
            Thanks
            Mariana

            • JillG says:

              Hi Mariana,

              Yes it will be bumpy for awhile, that’s to be expected. And there is a stigma to be sure, but what burden is your daughter carrying aside from her inner turmoil? Most teenagers don’t even know what a panic attack is, unless they’ve actually had one. What was the reason given (to the friends) as to why she couldn’t go on the field trip? I see no reason why her friends would have to be in the loop, if that is your concern. You said not everybody knows, and in teenage life, last week’s class trip is a lifetime ago. Teens are very much into the present and all are acutely focused on themselves. So I’m thinking this would be off the radar of most friends by now.

              Of course your daughter will feel bad about it for awhile. Just keep reinforcing to her that she is getting better, and getting better is a process- it doesn’t happen overnight. Keep reinforcing to her to use her tools and to do the best she can every day. Reinforce that it does get easier with time. Because it does. And it gets better much faster with help, which she is getting. Make sure she has all her resources at her disposal: her therapist, books, a program like the one I mentioned, self soothing activities for night, and of course your calm unwavering support and belief in her.

              I’m not sure if I addressed your concerns because I’m not exactly clear on what you want me to comment on.

              ((Hugs)),
              Jill

              • mariana sievers says:

                thanks again Jill
                Even if I maybe didn´t express myself to clearly , your comments helped again.
                What I meant is my daughter is at the moment at home till monday when the class trip ends , and she worries about going back to school (something she doesn´t need) although she knows only the teacher and her best friend know she stayed at home because of her panic attacks at night, the rest of the class think she got the flu..
                At the moment she is”over sensibilized” towards everything, or is in a state of generalized anxiety, but at least hasn´t had a panic attack for over a week. I hope with us,her therapist and your kind advice she will begin a slow recovery (For a problem that until now we don´t even know what triggered it).
                Hugs
                Mariana

                • JillG says:

                  It certainly sounds like she’s moving in the right direction. She hasn’t had a panic attack in over a week? That is wonderful! Tell her you have a friend online who went through this as a teenager and thinks she is amazing! The generalized anxiety state is tough because everything seems magnified to her. But this will pass too. Diversion can help. Maybe she can do something nice with her best friend or you this weekend. Get her out and keep her from dwelling on not being on the trip. Something she enjoys- skiing, hiking, shopping and lunch, a yoga class or two, going to a museum, etc. Good luck and hang in there :)

                  ((hugs)),
                  Jill

                  • mariana sievers says:

                    Dear Jill
                    We certainly try to do all the things you mentioned, unfortunately during the day she almost refuses to do anything we advice (except TV ,internet etc) which we think is wrong and better if she would do more sport or take a walk with the dog etc, I guess typical teenager!!) at night is when she clams to us.
                    But thanks we will continue to have patience and give her support.

  6. mariana sievers says:

    Dear Jill
    In your heartbreaking story with such a long way to a gradual recovery , during all those years of anxiety attacks did you also have physical symptoms of: nausea, dizziness, headaches, stomachaches ? I ask you that because my daughter has had 2 wonderful weeks without panic attacks, but had yesterday again an anxiety attack (without becoming a panic attack) and has on and off these symptoms (she has been physically checked by her pediatrician who said she is ok no blood tests) and I wonder if this generalized anxiety with lack of sleep is affecting her in such a way that she has these symptoms or is she beginning to have signs of a depression? or is it all a mixture of puberty with anxiety , hormones etc
    She has been seeing her therapist (till now just 2 times) and I think it is going well , I would as her mother do anything to be able to grasp what caused her fear at night and am patiently waiting for some professional answers but I guess this might take a while.
    Mariana

  7. mariana sievers says:

    Hi Jill
    I have gained a lot of strength with your answers. Thank you . But here is another question:
    My 13 year old daughter with fear of going to sleep (duration a year and a half cause unknown), which has caused anxiety and recently panic attacks has also headaches, nausea , dizziness, stomachaches on and off (she has been checked by her pediatrician and he said she is ok, she is already seeing a therapist , they are beginning behavioral therapy, unfortunately the progress is slow) Did you also have all these symptoms during those years with anxiety attacks .I am just trying to understand (from someone who has been through this ) if this enormous emotional stress is causing my sweet daughter all these horrible physical symptoms , if yes what helped you ?
    Mariana

    • JillG says:

      I had very, very bad stomach aches and pains. I also had no intervention or medical help. My parents didn’t do much of anything. Emotional stress can cause a lot of physical symptoms. I can’t say what helped me as a teen because nothing and no one did.

  8. mariana sievers says:

    Thank you Jill. Thank you for opening your heart on this .I hope today you are doing better on every level. It is what I wish in the future for my daughter-
    Mariana

    • JillG says:

      Thank you. I am better today, that is why write this blog. I am a recovered anxious person, and your daughter is well on her way. I wish you and your daughter every blessing.

  9. mariana says:

    Dear Jill
    Our Daughter , has been going to the therapist (actually the second)and it seemed at the beginning to be helping (she hasn`t had another panic attack) . Both therapists have more or less said that this fear of not being to sleep alone in her room is separation anxiety. Unfortunately the moment she is confronted with ways to fight this with behavioral therapy and in small steps she totally freaks out and refuses to do anything , at the end refusing to go to the therapist.(it is hard to take a 13 year old against her will to the therapist). For the sake of the rest of the family my husband and I have decided that we will be firm (with love ) but she has to go back to her bed : tough love. She can choose small steps(1 hour , 1 day in her bed) or one big step to her bed with me at her side She cries ,screams and refuses to do any .
    As a longtime anxiety sufferer(which started in childhood) do you think we are doing the right thing ? or shall we let her do it her own way whenever she is ready (which can take much longer and in the long run do her more harm )
    Mariana

    • JillG says:

      Well that’s great that she’s not having any more panic attacks. I would venture to say you’re doing the right thing letting her tough it out a bit.

      Take care.

      • mariana says:

        Dear Jill
        Thanks for your reply
        I just hope we are doing the right thing , since she became hysterical when we told her our plan but we can ´t back up now and we know there are going to be some terrible rough nights, with lots of crying and screaming
        Take care

  10. Sandee says:

    My 14 year old granddaughter has recently started having panic attacks at school. She fears that she will pass out in front of her friends. My daughter has taken her to doctors to rule out anything physical and is getting counselling for her, but she seems to be getting worse, more hopeless and fearful. I am gluten intolerant and have been for 20 years. My symptoms were not related to anxiety, but rather to loss of weight and “leaky gut” syndrome. I read that the glutenfree diet has helped you with panic. I hope that I can convince her to try it.

    • JillG says:

      Hi Sandee,

      I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you! I really think gluten free makes a difference. It certainly can’t hurt, and I hope your granddaughter will give it a try. She will know in just a few days if it helps or not. Tell her that. ;)

  11. Helen says:

    Have you ever tried EMDR? (I couldn’t find any info on this site in a very brief search.) I only ask because, having had panic disorder, agoraphobia and everything else that goes with it for almost 30 years, I only discovered EMDR last year and found it to be the only thing that has been really helpful for me. The British Department of Defence now uses it routinely for PTSD cases. I did EMDR in conjunction with exposure, and the results were quite dramatic. (Naturally I had to pay because in this country my insurance wouldn’t cover it.) I’m now trying to wean off Klonopin (on it since 1996) and having some of the horrible problems people are describing, particularly the insomnia. And I’m doing it veeeeryyy slowly. Glad to find this site as I’m feeling particularly down today after little sleep.

    • JillG says:

      Hi Helen,

      I never heard of EMDR, but I’m glad it helped you. Is it like behavioral therapy? As far as the Klonopin, it’s good that you are going slow. If your insomnia gets too much stop weaning for a few weeks or months. Looking back when I weaned off Klonopin I know I went too fast. Take care and be well.

  12. Jackie says:

    Hi Jill -
    First and foremost, I would like to send a huge THANK-
    YOU for sharing your personal journey with all of us. You
    truly have been, and continue to be, a true source of help,
    hope, encouragement, inspiration,strength and guidance.
    For others and yourself. Keep that positive flow moving.

  13. sada says:

    Hello Jill I am 21 yrs old female and I was living my life normally until I joined college every thing changed, the first year went ok, in the summer of 2010 I had a very bad two months of my life I stopped eating well, I felt ill and tired most of the time , so confused, sad, I felt tired to talk or even smile…etc I lost me. from googling, i think I had depression at that time but still i dont know what happened ! those two months changed my life for bad because when I joined college again for the second year I did weird things like: I fear sitting next to guys in class, and when the lecturer is talking I didnt concentrate but I keep thinking that i should go to w.c. otherwise i will pee on my self or I would do an embarrassing thing so my heart starts to beat fast, i get sweaty and dizzy like I will faint sometimes I leave the class coz i dont want to face those feelings and thoughts…and what really hurts me is that I am running away from my friends because I dont want to sit next to them ” not in class and not anywhere”…… am telling u my story coz I want to know whats wrong with me? is it anxiety and panic attacks or what??? I don’t tell anyone about this not my family not my friends !! no one..& we dont have good therapists in my country.. u r my only hope help me
    I am sorry my English isn’t good

    • JillG says:

      It does sounds like you are having panic attacks and anxiety. I had the same thing in college. Have you signed up for my newsletter? It will help you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>