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  1. My first post is on New Year's Day. I want to introduce myself because people might have a panic attack seeing a new moderator in their midst. I will probably edit it after a while since it is long has a lot of information, My name is John, username Ironman, and I am a carryover from I have been a moderator on that site since almost the beginning, and was a moderator on another forum for over six years. A résumé in three sentences lol. My history with anxiety: My first real panic attack was January 28, 1989. I was in the eighth grade (13 1/2) and I was dealing with a mother who has mental illness and had just been hospitalized for 11 days during the previous Christmas. Her illness behaved much like an alcoholic only it was 24/7 with her behavior. That, in turn, had me put pressure on myself to succeed. In the beginning, I could count on two nights a month where I would not sleep well. It would shift into hypochondriasis and catastrophization (big words lol). I got through high school and college with periodic episodes. I ended up having acquaintances, but they never really go to know me. I wouldn't let them because I was teased about my mother. That mindset stuck. By 1999, I had finished college and attempted to start my own life - but depression set in. At that point, I decided to seek help. I started seeing a doctor who couldn't quite pinpoint what my issue was, just that I had anxiety. In 2000, I joined a church with the expectation that I could make friends who were decent. Little did I know that the more I tried to make friends, the worse I got. In 2002, the anxiety started getting worse after a weekend trip to Gatlinburg. The worry about what was going on flared up and got worse throughout 2003. On New Year's Eve 2003, I remember being the only person at the altar praying (this was one of those charismatic churches) and God told me that I would not be at the church at the end of 2004. In the midst of the anxiety, that was unsettling. This is where things get really weird and I have to use my hindsight and what I have learned. In January 2004, I know that I had anxiety that was bad enough that I was derealizing/depersonalizing ("zoning out"), and the choir was sitting behind the preacher/evangelist. At the end of one service the preacher's wife screamed "you are going through what you are because you didn't try out for the choir!" The choir knew I was interested in trying out - but when I did in 2000, we were handed a several-page document on rules, ending with a contract that we would support the leadership (preacher's daughter and son-in-law) 100 percent. I found that kind of odd and walked out before I auditioned (I play woodwind instruments). Taking things personally is a big thing with anxiety sufferers and that made it worse. To make a long story short, they tried to kick me out of the church twice, incorrectly using Scripture. Since the church was not part of a denomination, they could do what they wanted. The first time was Easter Sunday 2004, after I was so racked with anxiety that I felt unworthy to take Communion - BIG mistake in that church. The preacher's wife screamed out "if you're causing divisions, we'll kick you out!" I went to the altar and prayed for something unrelated like my anxiety - and the choir was cheering and pointing to me.....before shunning me altogether. I started withdrawing from people I thought were my friends - I was in with a group that were brown-nosers to the pastors. They had a TV show on a cable channel and thought they were something else. The anxiety exploded to the point I was rocking in a fetal position begging for the nerves to stop. In my mind, "looking at people" was my crime (derealization was something I didn't know anything about at the time) so I won't look at the preacher or the choir. That must have offended the ego of the pastor's wife because she tried to kick me out again in June 2004. It's a three step process to kick somebody out and June 6, 2004 was actually step two. I pulled a friend who I could trust, had him pray with me at the altar, and I left the church for good. I have to add that August 2002 to June 2004 was also a trying period in my life (I call it my Job trial). Job, in the Bible, was a man who lost everything and people around him told him to give up his faith and he wouldn't do it. In my case, I had become unemployed, lost my dog, my grandmother, faced having a root canal with no insurance, had boils like Job, lost my friends, and then my church, and almost what was left of my two years. Twelve days after I left the church, I landed a job (software engineer). But, the anxiety didn't go away! I got a new doctor in June 2004 and finally got diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder. That's another storyline in my soap opera lol. I have been at my current church since October 2006 - a HEALTHIER ONE. I would be able to help here with the issue of spiritual abuse. I am still working on social interaction, though - it's a process, but I have come a LONG way. ...oh and before I close, that "bad church" sent me a packet to rejoin in March 2005 - I keep it as a reminder of the pain I went through. The pastor's wife and that church have been through unbelievable stuff that only God can dish out! One example - June 14, 2010: God released me from the Church when the 62-foot tall fiberglass statue of Jesus ("Big Butter Touchdown Jesus" as people called it) was struck by lightning and disintegrated. Anyway, I wanted to provide a bit of background. Those at AnxietySpace know me, but AnxietyCentral would see me as an invader lol. I hope 2021 can bring some peace and knowledge that 2020 was actually an interesting experience. People were going through what we have for years!