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Coming full circle with anxiety
After reaching out for help, Kellie Rudy is now sharing her story with others.
On the morning of Boxing Day 2006, Kellie Rudy was hit by an "out-of-the-blue rush of fear."
"My heart was racing," said Rudy, who lives in St. Vital. "Everything in the room sort of went silent. And then it felt like my chest and my throat were crushed — I couldn’t breathe."
Rudy didn’t know it at the time, but she was experiencing her first major panic attack.
She had recently overcome postpartum depression and anxiety following the birth of her twin boys in 2005, and had faced stressful home renovations that fall.
The renovations were done just in time to usher in the Christmas rush, leaving her overwhelmed.
After the physical symptoms of the panic attack subsided, Rudy was overcome by negative thoughts.
"I thought, ‘I’m going crazy. I’m going to end up in a padded cell at St. Boniface. They’re going to take my kids away from me’," she recalled.
Instead of her worst fears coming true, Rudy eventually learned to manage her anxiety.
She now works to help others as the public education co-ordinator of the Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba (ADAM), which will be celebrating its 25th anniversary with an event on May 2.
But before she learned to help herself, Rudy spent almost a year facing panic attacks every single day.
Then, in 2008, she saw a newspaper ad for ADAM, and decided to call.
Instead of telling her she was crazy, as she feared, ADAM staff told her the anxiety she experienced was common and treatable.
Rudy went through ADAM’s 10-week cognitive behavior group, where she learned to self-manage the anxiety.
She soon become a facilitator for that same group, before landing her job as ADAM’s public education co-ordinator.
"This is what I want to do," she said. "Spread the message to let people know (anxiety) is treatable."
Shirley Miles, the vice-chair of ADAM’s board of directors, said the association helps at least 100 people each year through its groups, and also has outreach workers across the province.
While anyone can feel anxious when they’re stressed, Miles said, anxiety is a mental disorder.
"If every human being experiences anxiety at some point, for one in four it gets to the point where it affects your life," she said.
"The good news of that is it is so treatable."
ADAM’s 25th anniversary celebrations will take place May 2 beginning at 7 p.m. at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, with special guests Big Daddy Tazz and Steve Bell.
Tickets are $10 and can be purchased by calling 925-0600.
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