From a young age, Nate Dolan knew there was something wrong, something was off just a little, not enough to be noticed by others, but enough that he struggled with it.
Now, at the age of 38, Dolan has come to manage his struggles and has discovered a way to help others like him.
When he was around 8 years old he remembers worrying constantly about things beyond his control and always wondering “what if.”
“My mind would be racing and I couldn’t stop it,” Dolan said. “I felt that unimaginable flutter in my chest; I didn’t know exactly what it was.”
Dolan went to the doctor and had an echocardiogram done with normal results, and unfortunately no answer.
As he got older, Dolan turned to alcohol, and around the age of 18 he found it would relieve most of his symptoms.
“When I drank it seemed like my symptoms were gone; however, the next morning when I woke up hungover the symptoms were magnified by 100,” Dolan said.
The next few years of his life were filled with panic attacks and emergency room visits, along with the fear of dying.
“My anxiety was really never under control. I just didn’t know how to control it,” Dolan said. “I was prescribed medications like Paxil and Xanax for when I flew on a plane or situations like that, but all they did was cover up the symptoms. I never got to the root of my anxiety because I had never found anyone who could show me how to get there.”
With a lack of coping tools or the ability to control the anxiety, Dolan found himself feeling depressed.
“The anxiety turns into depression; this can make you feel like you just want to give up,” Dolan said.
At the age of 23 Dolan decided enough was enough, and he was ready to make the changes necessary to live life.
“I quit drinking, I checked myself into treatment and decided that enough is enough. I realized alcohol was going to kill me, and it almost did,” Dolan said. “Prior to this I never stopped drinking because I knew if I did, I would feel nervous and have major anxiety.”
Losing jobs, failing relationships, and many trips to the emergency room continued to affect his life until he was 36. After almost 28 years of struggling with anxiety and a lack of resources, Dolan had finally found his outlet.
“I didn’t know how to cope or deal with my anxiety until I was about 36 years old. I am 38 now, and for the last two years I have found tools to manage my anxiety,” Dolan said. “I started reading and meditating, I started learning what anxiety is. I started figuring out that if my mind can make me nervous, my mind can also calm me down.”
As he struggled with his anxiety and came to find things that worked for him, Dolan also reached out to others and developed a nonprofit organization for those struggling with anxiety and depression.
The organization, Arms Reach Foundation, was established in 2013 with the goal of helping those struggling with anxiety and depression to find hope amongst others and to assist community members with fundraising efforts.
“Our main focuses are anxiety, depression and addiction. We know from experience if these things aren’t handled right they can have very tragic endings. We want people to be able to catch it right away, get the treatment that they need, and have others to rely on during that time,” Dolan said.
The Arms Reach Facebook page serves as a connecting place for those struggling with anxiety, depression or addictions, and being surrounded by others with the same struggles has proved helpful to people like Dolan, so his goal is to provide the same hope he was given.
“For many years of my life, I didn’t have the right tools to deal with my anxiety and get it under control,” Dolan said. “I’ve realized that you’ll never really get rid of anxiety, but you can learn to control it. We can help people to get through this; we’re just an arm’s reach away.”
Arms Reach does more than connect, it supports
“It is the lack of financial support and funding that really drives us at Arms Reach to help those struggling financially while they try to manage their diagnosis,” Dolan said.
Fundraising efforts like gun raffles, silent auctions, anonymous donations and car donations have been some of the focuses for the organization.
“We’ve helped cancer patients to raise money for medical bills and medications; we’ve hosted fundraisers at Wintergreen’s in Isanti to help support Battens disease,” Dolan said. “Every dollar raised has stayed local and gone to the families. We would love to continue to assist with raffles for people as well as fundraisers within the community.”
Anyone struggling with making ends meet while battling with any type of diagnosis is encouraged to reach out to Dolan and Arms Reach Foundation.