When I was a teenager I noticed something was off about me. You could look at a picture of me from 2008 and think I’m talking about my weight #stillFat. You might recall a social setting we were in together where I may have said something/acted over-the-top. You might remember how I spent money, sometimes I didn’t have, to try and find happiness. While all those things aren’t necessarily normal, that’s not what I’m talking about.
I couldn’t quite pin-point what it was, though. Eventually, trying to figure it out, and keeping it to myself, became debilitating. I found that I could never rest or relax. I lived with never ending fear, worry, and a tight chest (not the sexy kind). I had no control my own thoughts. Uncontrollable thoughts sometimes lead to uncontrollable actions. It was odd.
I was also unintentionally making life hell for those close to me. I was having unwanted mood swings and depression. I was destroying my relationship with friends, my girlfriend at the time, and family. I finally learned to block it out with a wall of over-the-line humor and superficially happiness. Though it helped, it never solved anything. Surely this isn’t the way life is supposed to be? So, as anyone with my condition would do, I began to hit the internet seeing if anyone else dealt with this. It appeared that what I was going through was actually really common, though not necessarily normal.
You see, I have a General Anxiety Disorder. In a really broad sense, I worry about things that will, most likely, never happen. I also am Obsessive Compulsive. So the things I worry about gets placed on a mental carousel that doesn’t stop spinning. It spins the same thoughts ’round and ’round. To try and stop the carousel I try to take action. Actions that are odd to others, and hell- even to myself.
- Sometimes I would drive 45 mins, at midnight, to pull on a locked door that I already locked at 7pm.
- I would drive around in circles to make sure I hadn’t hit someone with my car because I hit a bump in the road.
- This would actually lead me to have the windows down/radio off whenever I would drive anywhere.
- I get particularly scared that I have a some disease. Usually that disease is impossible for me to get, as well.
- I would, and still do, worry that every single action in my life is offensive, or straining, to relationships I have with friends and family.
- Every time I push code to a server, I have a slight panic that disaster is about to ensue. Though this is probably good because it causes to be more thorough, and write more/better tests.
- I fear emails because obviously the only reason someone would email me is to tell me something awful has happened.
- Sometimes I’m anxious for no reason.
You will most likely read these and think that’s really stupid. Well, I don’t disagree. You may even ask why I don’t just move on. Well, I ask myself that quite often. It’s not that easy. If it was that easy, I wouldn’t be writing this.
When this happens, it actually can become very debilitating. It becomes hard to communicate with people. I, at times, hyper-ventilating. I lose the ability to focus. The worst part about all of it is the feeling of guilt I have for worrying about this stuff. I feel like I’m giving myself too much attention, and not those around me.
I’ve been told many times that it’s just because I’m not ‘trusting God’ with it enough. This one is particularly tough. I’ve prayed for years for this to go away and it doesn’t just go away because I trusted God with it. As a Christian, I’m not downplaying God, I just believe that sometimes God may want us to also take other action.
I’ve also been told to just take medication for it. This has been hit and miss for me. The first medicine I was put on made me very angry, I stopped taking it after a week. The second medicine I was given sent me to the hospital with a priapism. The next medicine I was put on caused my heart to do weird things. I stopped taking it too. Finally I was placed on a medicine that helps me quite a bit. It, like any other medicine, doesn’t fix it- but it helps me control it.
The real help for me came when I also started to see an amazing counselor. He has changed my life in many ways. I would say this has been one of the most important parts of my journey with anxiety. I can tell him all the crazy things that go through my head, and leave his office feeling like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders. He has also taught me the power of breathing exercises. Anytime I start to go into a panic attack, I just lay back and breathe.
It’s 2015 and I’ve come quite a ways. I’m learning to separate the anxiety from the normal. The medicine helps with the smaller, day-to-day anxieties. Whenever things get bad, I know to go see my counselor. When I sense anxiety or a panic attack coming on, I take time to breathe and fight what’s happening.
I don’t think you every fully defeat anxiety, you just learn how to control it.
- Anxiety is nothing more than thoughts.
- Thoughts can be difficult to put aside, but it can be done.
It’s okay if you experience this
- I didn’t know it was okay to talk about these things. I thought I was alone.
- You can talk to me, in confidence, and I’ll try to help point you to the right people to help.
This is an actual thing.
- I couldn’t admit that something was wrong.
- You can’t work towards a resolution without realizing there’s a problem.
Please don’t use it as a crutch – Be vulnerable, not weak. – Be open and honest, but don’t blame anxiety- work with it.
What is this for?
- I needed to get this off my chest.
- Maybe you know someone like me and they don’t explain why they actually go through.
- I’ve been lucky to have friends that are/have been really good to me throughout this whole journey. Be that friend.