Before that first panic attack at age 34, Bruno Feldeisen lived a charmed life in New York. A celebrated chef who had won awards and competitions, with a throng of friends, he felt invincible. But one summer day 16 years ago, something inside him snapped. “The light dimmed, my vision got narrow, I couldn’t breathe,” he said. “I thought I was having a heart attack.”
It wasn’t his heart that was ailing, it was his mind. A French national, Feldeisen had left his native country years earlier in pursuit of the American dream. In fact, he had escaped. From a young age, Feldeisen had suffered horrific abuse from his drug-addicted mother.
While Feldeisen had learned to suppress his trauma, the past caught had up with him. Even though the cardiologist reassured him his heart was fine, Feldeisen couldn’t stop worrying about his health.
“My mind was totally focused on the symptoms in my body—a tight chest, a little dizziness. Every small symptom would trigger a panic attack,” he said. As he spent entire days scanning his body for illness, his old life melted away. He stopped going out in public because restaurants made his back spasm and busy streets caused hyperventilation. He quit his job, drifted, and eventually went bankrupt. “I didn’t enjoy life anymore,” he said. READ MORE