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Photo submitted by contributor Victoria Saywer, a 30-year-old woman who has been suffering from panic attacks, anxiety and depression since she was 10-years-old. That was 20 years of avoidance, of persistent fear, of stomach aches and rushing thoughts. This photo was taken of her by her friend, Kerri Lavertu. Alcohol has been a demon for Victoria, a way to escape herself. In college she would drink to excess to feel like someone else, someone confident, someone sexy, someone who wasn’t afraid of social situations. It was a way to live for a time without the overwhelming thoughts in her head and without the frantic panic. And it was addictive. She wanted to be that version of herself, the girl who wasn’t crazy. But it eventually led to breakdown and serious thoughts about suicide. Luckily she survived, but even now panic is still a battle, each and every day.
About this photo: “This photograph represents my desire to tell my story, my desire to show the gritty, real side of panic and anxiety and the kinds of coping methods that sufferers use to escape. I have several goals for my writing, both my novel “Angst” and my blog. Firstly, I want to allow people to get inside the head of someone who suffers, to show what it’s like, each and every day because I fear that too often we are misunderstood and there are also many who suffer and feel that they are completely alone and this is the furthest thing from the truth. Secondly, I want to show why suicide is not the answer even if sometimes it seems like the only way to escape. And finally I want to promote the idea that letting others in is okay, even though it feels like you can’t ask for help. There is often the perception that we should be able to make ourselves better, all on our own, but this isn’t true. Letting someone help you is not weak, it is reaching out toward hope, it is being human and learning to accept our human flaws and share them with others. And for me, the truth is I am not crazy, I am Victoria, I am simply me, honest, flaws and all.”