This post makes it with me no matter what blog I start. It was written in 2015.
When I was a teenager, I noticed something was off about me. I couldn’t quite pinpoint 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 thoughts. Uncontrollable thoughts sometimes lead to uncontrollable actions. It was odd.
I was 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 eventually found a crutch of over-the-line humor and superficial happiness. It helped though it never solved anything. As anyone in my position would do, I began to hit the internet seeing if anyone else dealt with this. It appeared that what I was going through was really familiar, though not necessarily standard.
You see, I have a General Anxiety Disorder. In a broad sense, I worry about things that will, most likely, never happen. I am also Obsessive Compulsive. So the things I worry about gets placed on a “mental carousel” that doesn’t stop spinning. It turns the same thoughts ‘round and ‘round. I can’t just flip a switch to put it out; I wish I could. Here are some quick, petty examples of what an average day looks like:
- My brain can’t stop if I think I’ve left a door unlocked. My stomach will turn until I check it multiple times. Not typically out of concern for personal belongings, but other’s belongings.
- If I focus on anything other than the road, while driving, for even a second I’m scared I’ve hit someone/something. I’ll trek back in a circle multiple times to make sure everything is okay.
- I’m always scared that I have a disease, or illness, even if said thing is impossible for me to get.
- I’m always scared that every single action in my life is offensive, or straining, to relationships I have with friends, family, and strangers.
- I fear emails because obviously, the only reason someone would email me is to tell me something awful has happened.
- Sometimes I’m anxious when I don’t even know why.
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.
People have told me, many times; it’s because I’m not ‘trusting God’ with it enough. Meh- that comes across like an ordinary southern culture of “praying for you/pray about it” so the person doesn’t have to get involved with your problems. I tried praying for years for this to go away and it just doesn’t. As a Christian, I’m not downplaying God; I just believe that sometimes God wants me to take other action.
I’ve also been told just to take medication for it. This advice is hit and miss for me. The first medicine I was put on made me infuriated, and I stopped taking it after a week. The second medication I took sent me to the hospital with priapism. The next medicine I was put on caused my heart to do weird things. I stopped taking it too. Finally, I’ve started on a medication that helps me quite a bit. It, like any other drug, 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 changed my life. I would say that was one of the most important parts of my journey with anxiety. I could 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 (updated 2016), and I’ve come quite a ways. I’m learning to separate the anxiety from the average. The medicine helps with the smaller, day-to-day worries. Whenever things get bad, I know to see my counselor. When I sense anxiety or a panic attack coming on, I take the time to breathe and fight what’s happening.
I don’t think you every entirely defeat the condition; you just learn how to control it. If anything, remember It’s okay if you experience anxiety/mental illness. You’re not alone.