Over the last several years, I've battled ongoing anxiety that has resulted in panic attacks, a need for a xanax prescription, and several full-on meltdowns that my lucky husband typically gets to witness. My doctor asked me awhile back if I had a traumatic experience as a child that may be affecting me now, and I quickly answered "no". Then I realized that I had experienced something traumatic - in 5th grade, my best friend's mom was held up at gunpoint in her garage when us kids were with her. All 3 of us kids ran different directions and there was a point where I didn't know where my brother was and we were unsure of if the guy that robbed us had taken him.

My brother, BFF, and me. I was super cool in 5th grade.

Ultimately, all of us were fine, but while my brother and friend were shaken by the experience, I was absolutely distraught and afraid to go outside for nearly a year. I eventually ended up going to several therapy sessions, and slowly "got better", with my panic calming majorly when we got a letter that the man who had robbed my neighbor had been caught and was sentenced to 17 years in jail.

Realizing that something I experienced 20 years ago is still affecting me today has been tough to grasp and accept. It's a little embarrassing that of us 3 kids, I was the oldest, and also the most impacted by the situation. To this day, I hate alleys, and if Dan opens the garage door before I am all the way in the car I freak out. I will not park the car by myself at night, I do everything in my power to not have to walk the 4 blocks home alone, most everyone I see on the street scares me in some way, I often end up in complete hysterics if Dan is gone for the night, and if someone even so much as glances in my direction on the train I quickly spiral into extremely irrational thoughts about who they might be or what they might to do me that often results in my being short of breath and having a full-fledged panic attack.

Overall, I manage to keep my anxiety fairly well controlled, admittedly by avoiding "trigger situations" in absolutely every way possible. If I don't have a ride home from train after work I either go to my parent's house or waste $5 on a cab to drive me a quarter mile. I leave the car in front of the house if it's dark when I get home, and beg Dan to park it for me later. I almost always have someone spend the night with me if Dan is out of town, and although he is technically allergic to him, Dan got me Louie for my birthday a couple years ago as an added security "blanket".

Yesterday, my sister from another mister, Lauren, sent me a link to this book with a note that she heard about it on the Today Show and thought of me -

Some quick reading has taught me that The Gift of Fear has been around for over a decade, and has gained the attention of Oprah, The New York Times bestseller list and Larry King Live, among others. It is currently ranked on Amazon as the #1 bestselling self defense book in the world, and reviews of the book are absolutely glowing. I'm sure it comes as no surprise that I quickly purchased the Kindle version for immediate reading. There's a small part of me that thinks this book will absolutely terrify me, but I'm hoping that it also provides the sense of safety and empowerment that other readers rave about.

Has anyone ever heard of or read this book? Anyone else struggle with anxiety? I've found that it's generally more understood and accepted these days, which is comforting in a sense!