Happy New Year - Veteran to SA, and forums lol

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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!

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