When you have anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, I’m not sure how long is a reasonable time to wait before getting help from someone who knows what they’re doing. I’m fairly certain that 24 years was too long.

I was 8. Gabriel Zapata’s birthday party. There was some idiot older kid who wanted to blindfold himself and fight us. My heart started pounding, hands sweating, hyperventilating. I ran back to the house and literally dove into the bushes, thinking maybe nobody saw me. Of course all of them did. Someone said, “Don’t worry, that’s just Chris.” That made it worse. I had no idea what it meant but I was sure it wasn’t good.

Now I’m 32 and fully understand there is nothing like a trip to the ER to let you know you don’t have your shit together. Muffled hearing, hyperventilating, freezing cold, tingling hands and feet, and generally feeling completely out of control — those were my symptoms that I told the triage nurse. She sent me to the waiting room for 2 hours.

Only in the last month I have realized that no, not everyone feels either anxious about absolutely everything that happens in a normal day or too depressed to take any action, no matter how small. I’ve always considered myself reasonably intelligent. After that realization, I have my doubts.