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A Taste of Insanity: My Life With a Panic Disorder

I’ve never been one to be very outspoken about my personal battles.

I like to keep public conversations and posts for the most part silly and light hearted. Speaking fluent nonsense and whatnot…

However, I believe it is time for me to open up and share a bit about my life long struggles with a severe panic disorder, Agoraphobia, and social anxiety issues. This is my curse that has at times crippled me, and my blessing as part of what makes me, well, me; flakey, offbeat, and eccentric.

My hope is to spread awareness.

I want other people to know they aren’t alone. the feeling is very real and can even become physical (dizziness, heart palpitations difficulty breathing, etc) I am hoping by sharing my experience and struggles as well as those of others i can help reach out a bit and give everyone a place where they can share how they feel and ways that help them cope.

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The sad truth is many people don’t understand the hell this can be.

The Average person may in fact experience a panic attack once or twice in the lives brought on by some sort of emotionally traumatizing event or extreme circumstance. The issue is they may become under the misconception that people with panic and anxiety disorders can just “shake it” like they did. That someone with a disorder is just being weak willed, exaggerating, or looking for attention. The difference is in a person with an anxiety or panic disorder there doesn’t necessarily have to be an event or situation that moment to trigger a panic attack or heightened emotional response. It’s an attack of intense fear that something bad will happen. For me this feeling frequently rises when I am to deal with a social situation (especially a new one).

I’ve been dealing with anxiety since the moment I entered elementary school.  Being diagnosed and re-diagnosed, crisis after crisis, throughout my teens and young adult life.  It was an issue I denied most my life and self medicated.  However, when my life and career began coming together and my panic attacks became increasingly severe I decided it was time to take this bull by the horns and learn to ride and cope with it rather than brushing it under a rug   (it’s hard to hide a bull under a rug!)

THE TALE OF WHY I AVOID CONVENTIONS

As an example. I’m attending a major comic convention! hoorah!!! I’ve been excited about it for months! I’m in my hotel room and put on the costume I worked weeks on (it looks epic!! :P) Without warning my mind starts racing both good and bad thoughts

“what will people think, who might I meet or see, what i should say, what other people could say, did i forgot to pack anything (i check at least 5 times for my i.d. makeup, con badge, and of course it is all there… each time i check.) What if i loose something? What if i get featured on a major news site? that would be awesome.. unless they have bad things to say, What if the convention center gets bombed, what if it catches on fire… would i help other people get out (I could be a hero!), what if i died in it? what if no one notices me? what if i draw the wrong kind of attention? what if everyone laughs at me behind my back? what if I am part of a big joke?”

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I swallow hard I know these thoughts are insane and still feel relatively “ok” and excited for the convention so I pull myself back together and start to put my makeup on. Through the process my thoughts continue to race and I begin to come a bit nervous and agitated. I begin shaking, sweating, dropping things/ and knocking them over. I start obsessing over small details and how they might matter.

My makeup is almost done, and I look great. I tell myself I am being ridicules and to relax. I get my bag together and get ready to go to the convention. I know I was super excited and this was something i wanted to do, but i can’t help but feel at the same time, that I don’t want to go, after playing hundreds of scenarios in my head as I was getting ready, I don’t want to go anymore. I calm myself, drink some water, and sit for a moment trying to clear my mind. I logically know nothing is wrong, This is a fun event I wanted to go to, but the feeling won’t go away.

I get ready to go out the door for the convention when suddenly My throat begins to feel tight and it’s starting to become hard to breathe. I’m not actively crying, but my eyes are watering. My body turns white, and I am covered in goosebumps. My chest hurts, my fingers and arm begin to tingle and go numb, I get very scared. I feel like I can’t breathe, I go to my knees as I gasp for air and begin to panic. An ambulance is called I go to the E.R. my vitals are monitored I am given a breathing treatment and get administered Lorezapam through an iv and am sent home in a matter of hours. I feel exhausted and stupid. I don’t go to the convention I was so excited for… I go home instead.   This in itself can be frustrating and rather depressing.

This is an example of a bad day for me. before I sought professional treatment again  These days where more common then I’d like to admit to. The first half of the scenario ( the racing thoughts, shaking, difficulty breathing, sweats, etc) still happens to me quite frequently.  My mind plays tricks on me and literally gives me the creeps.  I have some measures and doctor prescribed emergency medication to go through now at home first to help alleviate the anxiety and not end up in the E.R. due to a panic attack. It can be paralyzing. I’m scared to go places and do things sometimes just due to the fear of having a panic attack itself. As they are  horrific, terrifying, and I don’t want to draw attention to the issue… I don’t want to be “that girl”.
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MY STRUGGLES IN THE CITY

Another Personal Hell of mine is when I do make it out to a social situation.  I live in LA, it’s crowded here, and I am nearly every day forced to deal with people.  I have good days and bad days.  on a  good day I am uber friendly prancing around with a skip in my step and a song in my heart(lalalal!).  That can all quickly turn bad. Sometimes completely without warning my tone can switch.  My thoughts begin to race and I become extremely anxious of and terrified about what others are thinking or may do around me.  I pray that no one will talk to me. I feel like everyone is looking at me. I put my headphones on refuse to make eye contact and look down at the ground and  I wish above all else that I could just be invisible.   I’ve even had once or twice where someone has been obnoxious on the streets of hollywood and started following me to try to start talking to me even though i am ignoring them.  In one instance a man was passing out his demo cds, i said no i wouldnt take one and to leave me alone.  he continued to follow me and ask me questions.  basic questions like “girl whats your name, where you from, why you walkn’ away”  anyone would have found him obnoxious but with my nerves already on edge i found it unbearable.  as I ignored him and continued to walk he stepped in front of me in my way and and reach as if to place his hand on my shoulder t0 stop me from walking for a second.   I instinctively punched him in the face and ran away.  Was this man obnoxious and crossing a line for most people, i feel so.  Was my response right…  probably not.

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On a bad day, I won’t leave the house.   I begin to get unexplainably anxious and feel panicked even just hearing the noises of the city and people outside my window.  I won’t answer the door if someone knocks, phone calls, and i won’t let people come over. It’s silly when i think about it.  I am able to joke about it and make light of the issue.  The truth is it’s tough to cope!  It’s tough to get around all of the thoughts and feelings and to get to the store, to work, to live!

I do have days to where I am absolutely fine.  But part of the Fear is the Fear itself.   You become afraid of actually having a panic attack and start obsessing about that mentally!  ahhh!!! there’s no end to the madness! :P

Up until late last summer i used alcohol to help cope and get me past the feelings of panic.  I know substance abuse is rather common among sufferers of panic disorders.  You might have seen me in the past stumbling around a convention or two the previous year. As of Fall 2012 I completely ceased drinking any form of alcoholic beverage. Drinking was a crutch and not a very good one. I am proud to say I remain sober today even in high anxiety situations.

I used to be even worse.  Hiding away in my apartment alone for days at a time refusing to see anyone.   What has changed since then is I have someone who i can talk to and who i really feel zero anxiety around.  there’s him and then there’s everyone else.  this one support has helped me immensely to be able to function as a person.  Another odd thing I have no issues working and functioning online.   I can chat via text to thousand of people and interact through the social networks and feel 0 anxiety towards it though I feel and understand everyone is real.  The anxiety however returns when I am dealing with a voice like in skype and I have trouble playing multiplayer games online openly or on XBOX live or on  PS network..  no issues playing with another person if they are in the room though.

Anxiety Sucks!!!

To those who have never dealt with a panic disorder I may sound insane… well good for you, this post isnt’ for you.  This post is for others who have suffered and continue to suffer from similar issues.  You aren’t alone!    This has been a lifelong battle for me, and nobody has known about it until I said something just now.  So yes, you can still live a normal life.  It can be tough, but take it moment by moment don’t get discouraged if you start to feel anxious or have a bad day.

A light at the end of the Tunnel

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is proven to be effective to help treat anxiety.

I know a lot of people will knock medication, but sometimes Panic disorders can literally take over your life and make it impossible to function.  Sometimes small dose Anti-anxiety medication can really help turn a coming on panic attack into a something you can manage.  That’s up to you and your doctor.  Eating healthy can help, as well as regular exercise, relaxation techniques,  yoga, and sleep.

Want to share your story or advice?  CONTACT ME!

  • http://www.maritoallaparmigiana.com/ Marito alla Parmigiana

    Thank you for sharing! It is such a serious matter that I am so glad you spoke about it.
    Illnesses are sometime extremely tough to deal with and mental ones like the various forms of anxiety are expecially tough since noone but you can understand how it feels to be like that and there is no clear physical sign of it. It would be great to update us also on your tips on how to deal with it and the treatments you faced. I understand it is probably too private, but it would, on the other side, make a discussion on this matter easier.
    Thanks again!

  • AngryCanucklhead

    Wow. Just… wow. My hat is off to you. It’s never easy having to deal with it when your own mind seems to feel like it’s turned against you. Simply having to deal with that is 31 flavors of suck… but you throw in the problem of “self-medicating” (I’ve been there, too – not for anxiety so much as depression, but hey! Nine months sober, yay me), and that’s a veritable landslide of Not-Fun Crap to have to deal with… and you’ve done it!

    I’m glad that you wrote this. If more people understood just how hard it can be for some folks to cope with the way they’re wired (rather than laughing at or harshly judging those who are TRYING to deal with their sh*t), perhaps more folks would be able to work up the strength to seek out the help they need earlier in their lives.

    I can only imagine how things might have been different if I’d had the good sense to get help for my issues before I hit forty….

  • Zach Cooper

    The way you put all this it sounds like a fault in the “fight or flight” instinct we all have, some subliminal trigger or maybe even less causes your survival instincts to kick in, but if there’s no threat that can easily cause a massive panic. I know I’ve experienced the same kind of thing psychologically, though I very rarely get paralyzed by fear. Though for me most panic or anxiety attacks are caused by a more distant fear of death, not the act of dying or being killed, but it literally hurts to think about being dead. The idea that one minute I had thought, and the next I didn’t… It’s absolutely unbearable (thanataphobia is the name of the disorder I believe), but I found the running through many many scenarios to be a good thing. Sure it’s horrible to worry about them, but if you can run through them all that in itself helps you prepare for the worst. That way even if you’re a little on edge you know you can take whatever comes your way, and enjoy things if the worst does or doesn’t happen. Suspending expectations and waiting for whatever comes tends to work well, as for social situations I find that interaction makes them end faster, because I’m socially awkward I’m really good at alienating people, that’s probably difficult if not impossible for someone as aesthetically pleasing as you, but everybody gives away signals from their body language, they all expect certain reactions. By issuing reactions different to what they expect in the right ways it’s easy to get rid of them. It always makes me happy to see someone absolutely amazing revealing that they’re not some one-sided being, it’s terrible to live with a problem like this one, but it makes you a more complete being, which is a good thing in some ways. Every problem comes with a solution, and when you find it you become a lot stronger.

  • Ray

    You might have just described a regular day for me.

    It’s incredible to see that someone like you suffers with anxiety (we always assume the best-looking people have it easier than the rest of us). I myself am pretty good-looking for someone who doesn’t really mind my appearance, yet I struggle to go through my day without thinking people are laughing at me for whatever reason or somehow ostracizing me. Lately I’ve been putting off going to the gym – something I’ve wanted to do for years – because I simply can’t stand even imagining how people would look at me when I got there. If they would stare, laugh, make fun of me in their heads, which they most likely wouldn’t – they don’t know me, why would they give a damn, right? Still these thoughts haunt me day after day.

    CBT is the way out. It’s a long and winding road, but you must take it if you wanna get rid of your anxieties. That’s that. Thank you for sharing this personal part of your life with us, Miss Katz. I didn’t even know you until 5 minutes ago, but now you’ve given me motivation to work on my issues. Thank you.

  • Wolfe

    I would like to make you dinner. Just talk, watch a movie, and drink some wine.

  • Christopher A. Gilbert

    I deal with anxiety on a much lesser level than you, but much more frequently than the average person. It totally does suck and good on you for sharing, I hope this helps some people and I hope it helps you! I just came here for the super cute Radical Edward pictures, but it turns out I found this post. Way to be open and honest about it.
    I deal with mine with road racing. Standing in a crowd of 100-10000 people waiting for a race to start and then running with people lining the street cheering you and everyone else on, it can be maddening and sublime all at the same time, and I use it as an opportunity to express myself and my positive attitude in a supportive environment.
    That’s the great thing about road racing, nobody is at the side of the road heckling you at mile 25, it’s all positive and I feed on that and give it back. No matter what is making my mind race, running those courses with all the weird and awesome people in the race and along the way really helps.
    Good luck!

  • Nazokage

    I think people that have these kinds of problems just need an understanding person that cares deeply for them and knows them in every way that can be there for them when they have a problem this person becomes a source of relief from the anxiety that the person is experiencing .

    • http://www.maritoallaparmigiana.com/ Marito alla Parmigiana

      It does help but unfortunately is far from enough. Anxiety expecially if strong and consistent is part of everyday life of people like Litz and it is beyond tough to deal with it. The biggest help possible is to convince people affected by it that both they have an issue and that it can be treated. Psicological illnesses are widely thought to affect “weak minded” people, just like saying cancer affects only weak health people. Just like other illnesses it need assistance, treatment and understanding from the people around you. All support is more than welcome.

  • Nathan Carlson

    I feel the same way all the time, but I think it gets better as you get older. I’m super old now, and I just stopped giving a crap what people think. I have an awesome heart and a great moral code, so generally I don’t look to anyone but myself for the right answer. I stopped caring what people are saying because so often they are wrong. I care for everyone, and want the best for everyone, but as far as their opinion, since so many people are negative, I just don’t even listen anymore or care. People will take as much from you as you let them. Love yourself, trust yourself, and protect yourself. And do that for others and let them do that for you if they are awesome. There is always going to be a hater either way, and punching that guy was awesome lol. Don’t judge yourself too harshly. The fact that you think about that stuff at all means you care.

  • lyrralt

    So you don’t go to cons because you suffer from anxiety issues, but then you went to the biggest one “ComicCon”. Also, I would question how bad your anxiety is when you have taken dick on camera for money.

  • Cain Kamikazi

    all it takes is a little mental reprogramming, ;D i’m sure you can manage.

  • Cain Kamikazi

    i used to suffer like that, dunno what happened, my guess would be the training i got in the US ARMY kinda like “jolted” it out of me.

  • Mónica Costa

    I’ve been a struggling agoraphobic for the last 5 years. Fortunately, CBT, paroxetin, and a lot of grinding teeth and facing each fight-or-flight moment has got me into being a high-function one.

    I am able to live out my day normally for the most part, althought I’m scared of going into public transportation of any kind, so I do alot of walking :) My daily routine gets along just great, but what used to be the coolest stuff – vacation, spurr of the moment partying, those kind of unplanned or out-of-routine events – are now the greatest trials I have to go through.

    Anyway, I just want to give you thumbs up for your courage in sharing this misunderstood problem you, me, and alot of other face everyday, and to give you a little word of encouragement:

    5 years ago I could barely walk 5 feet away from my house. Today I lived an absolutely normal day with ups and downs, heres and theres, and no panic whatsoever. These days are getting frequent, while the cripling fear days are getting scarcer.

    Don’t give up on living the life you want, go out everyday and face it. I can see in you the heart of a lion! :D

  • Baconcheese burger

    I have had only one panic attack, but they sure do suck. Also issues with anxiety, but luckily meds has helped me.

  • John Harr

    I feel so sorry for you . Seriously i cried when I rode your post because I also have to deal with anxiety crisis.on my darkest moment I almost kill myself to stop this hell .I send you a big warm hug and I wish you the best .G-d bless you Miss Katz. i will pray for you and rode some psalms for your recovery

  • Mr. Grimm

    Anxiety does suck. i’m a fan of the pop culture of technology and geek/nerd things and its sucks that i can’t go to shows or conventions because of how hard it is to leave the house. what sucks more is when people tell me to man up its all in your head or stop being a bitch about things and just go.I can write books about stories where Anxiety has kicked my ass and still is.

  • Glenn Lind

    Wow do I know this to be true. Haven’t been able to step foot in a public pool in years. However sometimes I’ll just go to West Edmonton Mall on a Saturday afternoon for an adrenalin rush. Nothing like 50,000 people in a mall to push crowd anxiety.

  • James E Davis

    I know this pain also. Mine was especially evident 2 years ago when I became very ill and had to spend 10 months in the hospital in a large city. I in a much smaller community and had never been around so many people in my life. On top of having severe sicknesses at the time that made me hallucinate. It was like a glimpse of what I’d imagine Hell might be.

  • George McHugh

    Thank you, you have done an excellent job articulating what it is like. Since everyone experiences anxiety at some point, it is too easy for them to be dismissive of people with severe anxiety, panic disorder, agoraphobia and the other related disorders. It is really great that you are doing what you can, and going through the process of learning to take care of yourself. Some people don’t deal with this until much later in life, and suffer the consequences of long term depression, drug abuse (from so many years of self medicating).

    Many of these issues like anxiety, depression, adhd, bi-polar etc are looking to be organic differences in our brains. One of the amazing things about our brains is that they are so changeable. Doing things like CBT, mindfulness meditation, yoga, tai chi and other tools have been show to harness that neuroplasticity.

  • Jaredjjparis Williams

    I no first hand It take’s a lot to share personal info like this.Social anxiety issues are one of the many thing’s I have had to deal with all my life I have been on disability for a long time severe panic disorder and Conic depression has been the worse for me thank u for sharing Liz Katz.

  • serum.

    So, I saw the Philly D vid on youtube and as a gamer (modded Fallout mainly) I decided to check out your site and this story immediately caught my eye even more than your wonderful costumes.
    Unfortunately I’ve suffered from the exact same crippling ailments as yourself since I was 15 years old (everything that you have described happens to me on a daily basis), but the lack of awareness on this subject always amazes me. I’m now 33 years old but whenever I panic I feel like I’m 15 all over again, I have a wife and a beautiful 2 year old daughter who both keep me going. My wife and I wouldn’t look out of place in the trendy London wine bars. I go to work in an office every day where as once I wouldn’t leave the house. Newer friends would never guess that I hide these types of issues but that is the funny thing. I’ve always been very popular even though sometimes I wouldn’t leave the house due to a serious social anxiety that would bring on ridiculous thoughts that people would think I’m weird or that bad things would happen (out of nothing), leading to severe panic. More people need to understand about this subject and to raise awareness on these matters as you are is extremely courageous (something that people who have never suffered from social anxiety, severe panic disorders or Agoraphobia unfortunately could never understand).
    Well done.

  • carlmichael

    Wow Liz, thankyou so much for sharing that,it really struck a cord with me because I too have had similar experiences/feelings/thoughts,although not on such a scale.
    One minute I can be getting ready to go out and feel great….infact KNOW that I look great,I might even make it to the bar/pub/club without any self-doubt or anxiety,then all of a sudden I feel as though I’m being judged by people, looked at or even made fun of,it only happens occasionally but when it does it can spoil my night…..I can’t really describe or tell you what’s ‘wrong’ with me lol,but how I always describe it is: I’m like the guy out of ‘silver linings playbook’ but with a hint more anxiety disorder lol….hopefully you’ve seen the film and get the what I mean and if you haven’t YOU NEED TO!!! It’s actually really funny but also a very true portrayal of the things we’re talking about here.thanks Liz, again,really enjoyed reading that and I’m a big fan,not so much of cos-play but of you (and games ;) ) goodluck in all you do, x

  • Strategos777

    A Cosplayer with social anxiety? It sounds crazy until I remember that Harry Houdini and Johnny Carson were TERRIFIED of performing in front of an audience.

    I’m married to a wonderful young woman who like me is a super-geek. And she is VERY socially anxious. On our Honeymoon at Disney World she had a full-blown meltdown. She was petrified at an orchestral concert I took her to.

    So while I may not have social anxiety to that degree, I can DEFINITELY sympathize.

    • http://LizKatz.com Liz Katz

      For me, I can be and perform in front of a crowd, but once I feel like I am in a crowd I start to panic and feel very uncomfortable. This has been the case all my life!

  • BlackKnight0739

    Way to take your anxiety head on! I also have agoraphobia, but mine kicks in when I’m in wide open spaces in addition to crowds. Makes driving up and down I-5 a bear sometimes :) I’m very lucky that my job doesn’t really require me to do either very often and that I have my wife to lean on when it hits. She also has anxiety, but it only really hits her in stores.

    Thank you for sharing your story! That takes as even more courage than seeking help for it! :) Stay strong!

  • PhillyEagles10

    Much respect to you. I starting suffering from anxiety after my father passed away almost 4 years ago. I understand what you feel completely as I visited the the ER several times because I thought I was having a heart attack. I always got the same response from the doctors that I was too young (I am in my 20s) to be having a heart attack. One doctor even sent me to a cardiologist so they could run me through tests to prove to me that it was not my heart. After that my doctor told me I had anxiety. I have come to better control it myself but there are still times where it hits me and it sucks, my chest starts to hurt, I start sweating and sometimes my body becomes numb and sleeping is completely out of the question. So I know what you go through. It is always good to know that you are not the only person who goes through that.

  • http://petercookieboybrads.blogspot.co.uk/ peterbrads

    I understand exactly what you mean with your Anxiety problems as i currently suffer from them too, alongside depression as well. I`m 27 and i`ve spent nearly all of life trapped inside, due to feeling scared,worried and got a pessimistic view on life.

    I`ve hardly ever enjoy a night out in my life as i`ve been 3x on a night out that is spread over from 16 y.o to present day. I`m a very shy person and even though i constantly try to put smiles on people`s faces at work or family or friends. Inside of me i`m tortured soul as i see people enjoy themselves or hear about it mainly at work and when i`ve been out to parties for work, i`ve sat on my own and felt like the worst person in the world.

    And have been told i`m faking my depression and anxiety for “ATTENTION SEEKING” i`ve had it for nearly 4 years and had friends rally round me and help me out. So i`ve gradually took steps to get over my shy and anxiety, but when people join your group or enter the room and you don`t know them you feel off put and defensive and sets you back again as you feel sweaty and stressed.

    So i`m in agreement Liz your a brave girl and deserve to happy too :)

  • Ryan B Hong

    Social situations, especially with lots of people and people I don’t know, make me close my shell too. Within the last year I’ve gone to concerts alone and I’ll stand by myself between bands. I tell myself I just like to appreciate watching what the stage crew does to set up, all the while fully aware I’m denying that I’m actually pretty scared of not knowing anyone I can use as my crutch.

    In school, people liked me — or at least didn’t have a problem with me — because I would adapt so that I was never on their bad side. That was my way of protecting myself, trying to be a social chameleon.

    I also have either OCD or an OCD personality…self-diagnosed, so I’m not sure where the line’s drawn? I knew something was different since I was 8 (I`m 26 writing this). I didn’t know what it was until I was about 19, yet, I still noticed it made me do strange things, so I would slowly condition my behaviours to overcome or lessen the effects.

    When I have really good interactions with people, later, I’ll replay them over and over so I can relive those good experiences, often times repeating out loud something I said that ended up well. It makes me smile, so I don’t try to stop it.

    I also have depression since my breakup a little over a year ago. This makes all the previous feel like a party…you know, one of those good parties with people you actually know. Yet, it was the ignition to starting my 2nd personality overhaul. I even got my first tattoo to remind me of all the things I learned and am able to see.

    All this has shown me to always strive to be a better person for myself and for others. It’s tough but I don’t like to lose when it comes to bettering myself, so it will always be a struggle. I know, like everyone else, this has been a bit of a catharsis. I hope we all win our battles.

  • Nick

    Liz, like all folks who read your blog, I am an extremely huge fan of your work, but also so much more. You have a golden personality I wish more women would have. I, as well as most humans, all struggle with the stressors you mention to an extent. But you have such a heart, and incredible character, that I simply couldn’t sit by and read such an article without saying something. To let such things control SUCH a beautiful life as yours, would be a true tragedy to the world. It is women like you that represent the greatest of girls on this planet (in my opinion), and it quite frankly gives me hope that there are still great catches out there. But all in all, I just hope you realize how special you are, even though we have yet to actually cross paths IRL. Be strong, and do your thing. You’ve got a world to conquer ;)

  • Josh

    Liz you are a true inspiration. My ex girlfriend had major panic attacks as well, so I know how debilitating it can be. That you have faced up to and taken some control of it is amazing and something to be incredibly proud of. Words cannot describe how inspired I am by you and your struggles. <3
    Oh and you are the most stunningly gorgeous woman I have ever seen! Keep up the awesome cosplay work etc =)

  • The Covenant

    It gets overwhelming sometimes…most times to be honest…to have your life dictated by anxiety, panic attacks, and every manifestation that those bring, which can be -very- physical and restrictive…

    We are part of a ‘common secret’…common cause more people that you realize, know it and have it, and a secret because no-one wants to admit it out loud….

    I would like to share my story but the causes and triggers vary from person to person, and they are personal and sometimes intimate.

    What I would like to say however is that there are stages where we get angry, try to fight it, telling ourselves that our strength of mind and willpower, will be the ones to carry us through this crap and then it happens anyway. Countless times and to the point of mental and physical exhaustion and we feel defeated…but sometimes it is alright to feel defeated.

    It is alright because it teaches you to let go because you are too tired to over-think…when you come to accept this, and let it become part of you and share it with others it might never go away -but- it will stop defining you…and that makes all the difference in the world…

  • Tanner

    Stay strong Liz. I believe in the power of your mind to overcome these issues and I think you have the willpower to be that person who can do it.

  • Jemm Jasmin

    Yup, this pretty much nails anxiety attacks on it’s head.

    I also suffer from panic disorder. It started at around age 10, but was never diagnosed until the last year of middle school, and I still suffer from them now. I’m in my second year in college.

    I have the same symptoms, and it’s crazy how someone as productive and well known (and, of course, awesome!) goes through the same motions of trying to live an anxiety free life. It’s hard and every day is literally a battle against your own mind, but it’s both reassuring and awe-inspiring to know that you are still fighting the same battles as the rest of us are and also helping us out by overcoming your fear and sharing your “insanity”.

    I hope that you continue to do well in all of your works and know that you have support from all of your fans as well (especially with your anxiety-stricken followers)!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000317356752 Bob Pelletier

    It seems to me like it’s something that you are confronting head-on, Ms.Katz. That’s rather admirable,really. I mean, you’re making appearances at conventions and doing a lot of publicity work. You’re certainly bravely facing the issue,Ma’am.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363826075 Nick Sheydin

    I think that makes you a pond. A pondering pond.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000717054126 Travis Langley

    Thanks for sharing this, Liz. It’s important for those who’ve suffered like this to share their experiences and things that have helped. I’m often surprised to find how many people with anxiety as well as other problems like depression need to hear something as basic as “Eating healthy can help, as well as regular exercise, relaxation techniques, yoga, and sleep.” Best wishes to you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000544165595 Erik Hirscher

    Well I don’t have quite this problem, but it’s pretty neat that you are working towards fixing it OR making it more manageable.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=233996359971860 Liz Katz

    Danny Danny I’m a fairly deep puddle :P

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=233996359971860 Liz Katz

    Ian Derbyshire I’m sorry I can completely understand that. I went through most of my adult life feeling alone in a crowd of people, and ended up with quite an alcohol and substance abuse problem trying to mask it. Do you at least have a therapist or councilor that you feel comfortable with? Everyone needs someone that they can really talk to without being judged or feeling ashamed or ostracized.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1531880384 Ariana Deats

    I think it is great that you could share this so many people struggle with things like this. People need to know they are not alone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1553620928 Joe Mihaloew

    I had pretty severe agoraphobia from 2008 to 2011. It just came out of nowhere and just kept getting worse and worse. I would always just feel like I needed to escape. Just very panicky in large public areas.

    I started taking this: https://www.prohealth.com/shop/product.cfm/product__code/P206 in late ’09. It actually helped quite a bit. But after a while I felt I had to take more and more as my body was getting used to the affect.

    So another couple years of trying to dodge the public, I ended up so frustrated with myself that I worked up the courage to go talk to a doctor. She highly recommended Zoloft. I has skeptical at first as I’ve never been one to take pharmaceuticals but after a week of taking them I felt like a new person. It really took away that flighty/panicky feeling and it ‘color’ my personality per se. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re going through that mental hell. Life has gotten SO much better for me in the past couple years.

    I wish you all the best and just know that you’re definitely not alone in this. <3

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=689744496 Danny Danny

    That was Deep! Yo!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004757137682 Brian Gregory

    Its a life-long battle,unfortunately,these days,the war is harder to fight than ever…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=550390607 Evan Hammerlund

    I suffer from PTSD from sever abuse, including attempted murder against me that was propogated by my father. I also have a great time with friends, but once I leave the house/room, I wonder what everyone is saying about me after I’m gone. It creates a deep emotional pit for me AFTER I’m done hanging out with people and it feels very irrational at times. It sounds weird, since I’m a very outgoing person, who also loves being social and around people. It’s a wonderful catch – 22. :/

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=571131874 Tomas Temprosa

    You’re incredibly brave and show much courage. There is great respect for you for sharing your pain.

  • Rudy Vicuna

    I live Liz

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000353499423 Michael Walker

    Here ill take a deep breath for the both of us, *gives Liz warm fuzzy hug*. I think PTSD is very relatable. I’m glad you’ve learned to abstain from substance abuse! That’s hard!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=549202608 Bill Norris

    thanks, loved your post. and ive have had times where ive gotten up and left rooms because there seemed to be too many people there. it just weirded me out…. too many bodies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1590823121 Heath Harper

    Wow. Super brave of you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1280020710 Ron Cudworth

    Thank you for sharing and giving us some insight into these issues.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=542606615 Kira Kitsune

    -hugs- I think it feels good to share. I currently just moved away from everyone who knows about my disorders; anxiety disorder, borderline personality disorder, major depression and dissociative disorders….for all that I’m not as crazy as I sound ><;; … your sharing is very inspiring, and reading that you're coping with CBT encourages me to keep to those methods as well and not self medicate.

    Here in CO only one person knows about these things and I feel stressed having to keep it a secret, because I don't know how accepting people are or how judgmental. Playing normal is a pain in the ass though and it makes me panic in large situations especially if my head is having an episode.

    When the cycle of thoughts start happening that put me into a mental pit of tar (a mindframe I can't get myself out of and just sit mobile and suffer the thoughts and pain like someone in a coma) I try combating the illogical thoughts with logic. If my thoughts are saying that I don't deserve to be loved and all I deserve is pain, I stop and shake my head and tell myself the opposite, that logically I do, that I am not a bad person, that I haven't been bad enough to deserve something so horrible, that because I love and help others extensively I deserve affection, gentleness and care as well. The mental combat (if I catch it in time) can deter a very long and unpleasant session of crying and being trapped in myself.

    But I don't wanna be long winded. ^__^ You're wonderful for sharing and raising awareness, especially since there are so many who choose to remain ignorant and make things worse for those with disorders. I educate whoever is willing to listen. Lots of affection for you. <3

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1196095728 Lark Spencer

    Finally, someone who understands….

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1196095728 Lark Spencer

    Wow, so this is what I have…..social anxiety disorder….panic attacks….

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002715886226 Joseph Kelly

    It has been my experience that A LOT of ARTISTIC people have some sort of social anxiety, musicians, actors ect…
    I personally DO NOT like to leave the house, and even go to work RELUCTANTLY. But years ago I was in a local industrial band playing around Philly all the time and even tho I’d be getting sick before going on stage, once I was up there in front of people the stage became home to what I can only call an alter ego, going from someone sitting quietly in dark corners to some idiot screaming and crawling around on the floor. Perhaps that’s why you do what you do, Liz. The opportunity to completely become someone else sort of takes the burden off worrying that peeps are looking at and judging you because it’s NOT YOU so much as a character you can detach yourself from. Hmm, now I’m thinking the disorder may even help performers, as they can totally get lost in that character or persona.
    Don’t get me wrong, it sucks. To NOT want to go on vacation, buying concert tix and deciding you can’t go the nite of the show, there’s stuff I need from Home Depot for weeks now and I even drive by the place twice a day but never feel like dealing.
    I smoke a lot of pot and can tell you from a professional point of view, that is NOT in any way helping to deal with the issue of social situations.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004053316464 PeeWee Parker

    Hey Liz ever notice that I stand near the edges of crowds and drink a lot. Now you know why…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1522240715 David Murray

    My anxiety also causes me to forget words and stutter. Originally, I used to get a lot of small ones. Ones where my heart be pounding and I didn’t know what it was. I’d just go somewhere quiet and take slow breaths. Somehow I could get through those. After I was misdiagnosed with ADHD, I was given Ritalin. Apparently, that medicine did not go well with me. About a week later, at work, I suffered a major panic attack. My BP was 178/138. I was taken by ambulance to the ER.
    I was taken off Ritalin after the severity and the occurrences increased. But the damage was done there. I went on long-term disability and was let go by my work.
    Since then (my birthday 11/2010), I’ve been to the ER two more times and have not been able to get this under control. The doctors are certain now, that my memory issues are linked to my anxiety/panic disorder. I had been on a ton of meds and none of them truly worked except the dangerous addictive ones. We’re trying for a more homeopathic way to see if this will work. I’m fairly certain most people I know think that this isn’t something that’s real. I don’t have agoraphobia per se. I do get anxious when there are too many people in a crowded setting (unless there’s something to focus on-movie, concert, etc…)
    I hear ya and totally understand what you go through.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1338210142 Peter Jerome Peliotis

    Wow. This was an awesome read. I know we maybe talked about once or twice back in high school but it’s insane how similar your situation seems to mine. I can’t even tell you. Just wow. I’ve had generalized anxiety disorder and OCD and never got help until this year and it was because so many people just think you can “shake it off.” It’s so great to see that you’re doing well and that you can act as someone who others can look to for guidance to know they’re not alone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000199455865 Carol Katz Beyer

    Liz, honey you continue to amaze me with your willpower and grace! Did you know cousin Michelle is also in LA? I will message you, be wonderful if you got together. Miss you! xo.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1169827455 Butch Staley

    Had a medication side effect that triggered such a condition in me. It was so bad I couldn’t even set foot on the front porch of my house without panicking. Gave me greater understanding of how completwly out of one’s control this condition really is. Luckily stopping the meds and some extra effort resolved my issues. Those who really have this illness are not ususally that lucky. Keep strong Liz.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001172487493 Ron Parsons

    That took big girl balls to discuss this openly.I got nothing but love for ya.I wish you nothing but the best not only in this but everything you do. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=711818922 David Sullivan

    I suffer from Anxiety and OCD, which often go hand in hand, so I can understand somewhat. I also have a friend who suffers from agoraphobia and bipolar disorder, and has been struggling with it for years. Her outlet is art and blogging. She’s on facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/SunnylandStudio

    It takes a lot of courage to write about these problems, so I salute you. Obsessive thoughts brought on by anxiety suck. You end up freezing because you can’t shut off the continuing loop of negative thoughts. I personally got “stuck” for a few months. I still managed to make it to work, but I would leave right after work, and then go home and hide in my bed. I felt pathetic, especially considering I was there, 29 years old, and acting like a 5 year old who just watched a scary movie.

    I am a lot better now. low dose anti-anxiety meds and therapy have done wonders. I wish I had recognized the signs of anxiety in myself years ago, so I could have gotten help before. I just kept pushing it down inside, instead of dealing with it, or self-medicating like many due (alcohol, drugs, etc).

    Anyway, good luck and continued success dealing with your anxiety issues.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=561814692 Marc Nicol

    Much respect

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1398381890 Mark Nugent

    it’s easy to be misjudged when u hide behind a smile. i dont want to show people that im upset or confused so i try to mask it – that sound like the actions of person who is looking for pity or attention?!? judgments without knowing me or my problem really frustrates me. my anxieties stop me from explaining myself well too which makes the judging ignorant people feel justified – they ‘tell me to being weak willed, exaggerating, or looking for attention’ just like they do with you liz. very frustrating which of course heightens the anxiety.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002467860168 Stew Sizer

    It’s great that you can open up about it Liz, i’ve had a panic attack before and basically locked myself in my room for a week!
    Always been nervous/shy around new people and situations, to the point where i’ve been sick just from thinking about it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=579743385 Svee Wheeler Artist

    Well done you! Not only for writing an awesome, inspiring article on your situation but also living with it on a daily basis.
    I have anxiety issues and haven’t really spoken to people about it “publicly” until this post. I’ve had social anxiety pretty much all my life due to being one of those nerdy outsider kids at school who always got bullied but it got a sh*t load worse when I went to college.
    Naming no names, one guy in particular made my life a total nightmare. I lasted 6 month in college and then dropped out. I just couldn’t bare going and putting up with the daily abuse from this guy and his friend. It got to the point I would tell my parents I was going and by the time I reached the bus stop I would be a total emotional wreck. Shaking, stuttering, tunnel vision, severe sweating, you name it.
    Anyway, to cut a long story short (too late lol), I have lost every job I have ever had due to this condition and it ended up causing anxiety migraines which would just cripple me on a daily basis.

    That’s when I turned to my art. I now work from home. Away from people, on my own in a little room with just the sound of rock music to keep me company. I like it like that. It works for me. I am on daily medication to keep the migraines at bay which is working as long as I dont have a “bad day”. Just like you though I have thousands of people who follow me and my work over the net (FB, youtube, etc.) and I have no problem interacting over the net. Its just face-to-face I have problems.
    I’ve recently taken up photography though in an attempt to get me “interacting” with people in real life (other than my wife and kids of course) and its working well. Plus I’m having a blast photographing some awesome models and turning it into artwork :)

    All the best Liz. Keep fighting and know you are not alone. Would LOVE to do some art featuring you some day ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1398381890 Mark Nugent

    im also sick of justifying it to ignorant people in my life who you would expect to want to help rather than judge … im talking to you (my actual) sister (not liz or anyone on this thread :P )

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=669005569 William Asbury

    I understand a little of how you feel, though, I can’t remember ever having a panic attack, I also tend to avoid social situations. I grew up the class “fat kid”, so all I really remember of growing up was being teased. I did have a small group of friends with similar interests, so it’s not like I was alone. :)

    My solace was found in my head and video games for the most part. I have a borderline psychotic imagination for all of that (lol), but I still hate social situations or going to unfamiliar places without a friend.

    Though, over the years since high school ended, I have been getting better. Despite the teasing of my weight (which I still have a bit of), I’ve learned to be comfortable with myself and my looks. :D I do hope, in the future, I can get to the point where I’m as comfortable in real life social situations as I am with them online. I tend to think that it’s easier online because the people we’re talking to don’t see us or hear us, they just see words on their monitor and we get a little more time to think about what we are saying, so we don’t look all strange.

    My vice to try and help me with it, and the general stress of life, became smoking. Yes, I know it’s bad for me, but you don’t think of those things when you’re seeking relief. :P

    Stay strong, Liz. You’re not alone. We’re all in this together. <3

    • Ryan B Hong

      I completely understand the part about textual communication. I need that extra few seconds to think because I like to mean what I say. There seems to be a disconnect between what I think and what comes from my voice. Even typing this, I think over if I would rather type my thoughts a different way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1398381890 Mark Nugent

    thanks for sharing liz. anyone i know who doesn’t know what i go through everyday, and cares enough or feels the need to pass comment on my life anyway, can have a read of this article its pretty much me to a tee.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=832071117 Nick Kane

    Back when I was a kid I had them. I had a mini one just 40 min ago combined with insomnia. I used to call or go to my best friends home but this time I prayed and went on FB. I miss having close friends.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509084986 Andrew Noctem Holscher

    It takes a lot of time and mental training to get in control of it, and it’s never fully controlled or beaten. I had my first panic attack a few years ago and have had them here and there since but have learned many things to help keep me from getting into a panicked state. Mathew, I agree it does feel like a crazy rushed, heart attack and everything’s going a mile a minute! At first I was most afraid of my heart racing so fast I’d have an attack or something but after a few attacks I realized that its not lethal at all and that helped a bit. Try thinking back to previous attacks and telling yourself that nothing bad happened and it does end.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=545278177 John Paul Cano

    you cope with weed baby girl!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=663074273 Ian Derbyshire

    Amazing how similar that is to how I feel. Unfortunately I have no help or companion…makes things seem more hopeless…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=811664195 Matthew Mendez

    I recently had my first panic attack the other day, and I’m still having trouble adjusting back to normal. It was something I’d never felt before, like I was having a heart attack. And oddly now things that never bothered me, now give me anxiety and I’m unsure what to do to get back to normal. I now have a much higher respect for those who suffer from these disorders.

  • Black Knight

    You’re very brave, Liz, for admitting your faults as well as seeking a positive change in your life! You serve as an inspirational to many. Maybe I’ll see ya around ECCC one of these years!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=575244217 Laurent Limpio

    And for OCD, the therapy consists in learning how to cope with your fears, how to confront them while keeping your stress and anxiety to an acceptable level (that level going naturally down with time). Not sure if it’s exactly the same for your trouble, but i believe getting better in both of our conditions is about fighting against what we fear and learn to dominate it (sorry about the imperfect english).

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=575244217 Laurent Limpio

    Very interesting article. I suffered and still suffer from OCD. Not the same condition of course, but lots of trouble too. Following you for a few months, i gotta admit you don’t look like the kind of people who has this type of problems. Still, it’s a good message you send to all the sufferers, i mean you can do social things, cosplay and all, even with this condition. It’s all in the fighting. I’m doing Cognitive-Behavioral therapy and it helped a lot. Thanks for talking about it and take care.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=526001465 Michael Deal

    yeah liz disorders like that can be really tough to deal with. i also get anxious sumtimes about social situations, but its usually after its already over. alot of times i will think back on it and start thinking “should i have said this instead of what i did say” and what not like that. it can be rather nerveracking. but disorder or no disorder i love u and your fans love u and… well… we all just love u lol! ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001895423927 Charles Yelverton

    Hang in there kiddo! :p

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001221336836 Conor Smalakis

    I had Agoraphobia and still have anxiety. Best to just surround yourself with positive and rational thinking to the irrationality.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1461450847 Robert La Cross

    <3 (y)

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=811664195 Matthew Mendez

      I had my first anxiety attack the other night and I now understand and have a much higher respect for those with these disorders. I felt like I was having a heart attack, and that something bad would happen. My problem now for 2 days is I’m having trouble adjusting back to normal. I fear still that something’s going to happen and it’s hard to shake off if at all. So I thank you from te bottom of my heart for shearing your story, it has helped to understand more about this and that I’m not alone and even that there are those who have it worse than I. Thank you and I hope the best for you and your struggles. You inspire me with your words and strength.

      Matt M.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001371949395 Michael Powell

    Hello, Liz, I got diagnosed with an anxiety disorder a long time ago. I took SSRIs for a very long time to “treat” it. I’m off them now – I think they made me worse than before. It is a constant struggle to deal with anxiety – I see death and possible destruction literally everywhere. Thanks for sharing your story – I posted it to my support group. Please check it out. https://www.facebook.com/groups/103788426372995/?fref=ts

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000131402749 GianCarlo Castano

    Truly inspiring. Extremely proud of you. I don’t know you personally but I wish you the best of luck in all you do. Takes a lot of guts to do what you did and that makes you all the more awesome. (y)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=786455857 Robert Orr

    That sounded rather familiar. Kudos to you for opening up about it. I know that was an ordeal of its own to handle.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002470292052 Michael Jacobo

    How strange… to have such a fear and to be an idol. That is some courage you have Kat

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=30319970 Adam FU

    That takes a lot of freaking guts Liz to talk about that in the open- I personally dealt with a very tough struggle with Anorexia Nervosa as a teenager/young adult so I know how demons can be.

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