Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in the United States. The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates 40 million adults in the U.S. have an anxiety disorder. Becca Knodel is one of them.
“I missed a lot of things in my life because of my anxiety,” Becca Knodel explained. “I missed my brother’s graduation. I missed the births of my nieces and nephews. I lived like this for years.”
The 39-year-old says she experienced anxiety for the first time at age 11. In the nearly three decades that followed Knodel says her anxiety worsened to the point she developed agoraphobia a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed.
Trauma led to anxiety
Knodel says a series of traumatic experiences fueled her anxiety; including her father’s near death experience of being struck by lightning and being sexually abused by two different family members. Knodel says coming to BayView Professional Associates was the turning point in her treatment.
“It is like I am waking up!” Knodel shared. “It is like I have been asleep for a long time and then waking up for the first time in my life. It is strange and it is exciting because when you live in a box for so long it is scary no matter what you do.”
Knodel credits John Conrad, BayView Professional Associates assistant director, with her recovery. She says he encouraged her to expand her comfort zone and pushed her to believe in herself. She says Conrad was the first person to listen to her.
“It had been 16 years since I had driven a car. I’ve never had a job, and I thought that was my life,” Knodel said. “And that was how was I was going to die. But then I met John.”
Anxiety altered life
Conrad says for people living with true anxiety it can be incapacitating. He says their world often gets smaller and smaller because they tend to avoid things that cause them anxiety and panic; as was the case for Becca.
“She has worked extremely hard to overcome her anxiety,” Conrad said. “It has been very fulfilling for me personally because I saw her at her worst, that first day she came to my office and I could not close the door and she would not sit down to where she is now planning a trip to Disney World.”
Knodel says her goal is to go to Disney World, and she believes she will finally get there, “For the first time in my life I truly believe I will go.”
Conrad says through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving; coupled with desensitization therapy, a type of exposure therapy, Becca has been able to achieve recovery.
Knodel wants others to know to know treatment works. Conrad agrees.
“Anxiety is very treatable,” Conrad said. “Typically people drop out of therapy because their symptoms are so overwhelming but are treatable and you do not have to live that way. You do not have to live with anxiety.”
For more information on how BayView Professional Associates can help, call (251) 660-2360.
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