A little more personal now.
I’ve been living with a general anxiety disorder for about 10 years now.
Before you ask if this is a self diagnosed cry for attention I was diagnosed by multiple doctors, I take medication, and see a counselor on and off to help wrangle it in.
This disorder basically boils down to a few things:
1. I over internalize everything. Things that happens in my day to day life causes me to over think what my reactions should be. This means that Bob said hi to me yesterday so I took an extra few moments to worry about what to respond with and then after I responded I over analyzed his reaction and what I should have done better. This also leads me to arrive to locations early to keep from offending someone, I worry about time, and worry needlessly about how my personal appearance is perceived.
2. My mood overreacts to shifts. I can become amazingly angry over something that should have just annoyed me, but it’s not until much later that it doesn’t seem logical to be so angry but in the moment I feel justified to be so angry.
3. Panic/Anxiety attack. Sometimes the over internalizing will cause my body to have an attack. It mostly feels like my whole body is vibrating with unused energy but my body is unable to move. My heart will beat erratically, my vision will swim or tunnel, my voice will be shaky, and my body will feel weak and slow. This only way I’ve been able to control this event is with medication, before the medication I used a controlled meditation a previous doctor walked me through. An attack is not just mental, it is a reaction to my body releasing too much adrenaline and not knowing why. This can lead to long term nerve damage and heart damage.
4. Depression. There are those out in the world who live with clinical depression on it’s own, but when you have anxiety depression slowly develops in response to the highs of the disorder. Many people are misdiagnosed with bi-polar disorder but they are in fact experiencing the highs of anxiety and the responding lows of the depression.Thankfully there are medications out now that help with anxiety and by controlling the anxiety they help diminish the depression.
For many years before I was diagnosed I would ask doctors about my issues and for the most part I was brushed off. “You’re in college, it’s normal.” “You just need to be on birth control, it’s PMS.” “You need to come off birth control, it’s causing your PMS.” “You need to cut out caffein.” This kept on to were I developed an aversion to any medical personal and thought I was just crazy. I self medicated with alcohol and over vices driving my self to an early grave.
After a very bad attack I was taken to the ER due to alarmingly bad chest pains. The nurse looking over me took a look at my chart and talked me through the attack. Before I was discharged she and my attending doctor talked to be about anxiety disorders and gave me a referral to a new doctor. My new doctor was an amazing woman and helped me understand that I wasn’t crazy and anxiety disorders are a response to your brain not being able to produce over producing certain chemicals. It took a few tries but we found the medication that works wonders for me. As part of the anxiety and my history I had a fear/distrust for medications, but I had to suck it up and put my Wonder Woman unroos on and make peace that I needed the medication.
Today, almost 10 years later, I still take the same medication but I also pare it with holistic help. I take yoga one a week, I take a calming walk in the evening with my husband, and I am on a strict diet (mostly due to another health issue). Most importantly I talk about it. I try not to bottle it up and let it eat at me from the inside, I talk to my husband, my mom, my best friends, and my medical counselor. Am I anxiety free? No, but I’m a lot better at understanding what is me or the disorder. I was at one point suffering from the disorder, but now I am living with it.
If you are diagnosed with anxiety then please know that you are not alone and I support you. If you believe you may have this and have not been formally diagnosed please go see a doctor, even if it ends up not being this disorder there could be something available to help you. We live in an age where medical professionals understand these issues and have the technology and medications to help. There is no reason to suffer and not live.