I Just Want to Stay Here Where its Safe....
Anxiety Disorders and Stress
I am not a doctor. I am not going to claim to be an expert on any type of anxiety disorder, but I can tell you about my own experiences with GAD which I inherited from my father. I have some views on the condition that I try to look at with a sense of humor because it helps me to put it in perspective, but please understand- this is a real medical condition and those that suffer with it truly need understanding friends and family as well as medical professionals who take it very seriously. There are different levels of anxiety disorder so symptoms can vary. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
The Feeling That Your World is Closing In On You
One of the most difficult characteristics of the anxiety disorder that I have is that I never know what to expect until I feel it. There are days that I feel like I want to be left alone, hiding under the covers, and with the shades drawn. The sound of a car slowing down in front of my house, or the mailman dropping off a package is enough to send my heart pumping into overdrive. My loved ones come in the door and I feel panicky. My phone ringing sends me into a panic "who is that? I don't want to talk to anyone right now! " These reactions come upon me for no reason- that is the most frustrating part of it. I enjoy my family, I look forward to them coming home from work and school. I am a friendly person. This article will surprise many people that know me, but I feel like it is important to talk about. On a bad day- I feel like my world is closing in on me. I find it hard to breathe, I want to cry and I fear the worst. There is no rhyme or reason to the overwhelming feelings.
After this feeling subsides, the guilt comes. "What is wrong with me? What makes me feel this way? Am I completely crazy? My mother would be so disappointed! I am a mother, I don't have time to worry inside myself like this. I have too many responsibilities to be whining about losing control of my emotions. I can't tell anybody because they won't understand. They will stop telling me things, for fear I can't handle it. My children will think I am weak and unable to be their security and stability. My boyfriend will think I am just an emotional woman who can't be relied on. He won't take anything I say seriously because he will think I am nuts!"
Then the paranoia: "Why are people always on my back?! Why is everything left up to me? I wish I was one of those women who was taken care of and coddled by everyone. Why do I have to feel so much pressure? Oh no, I forgot to pay the car payment! How did I forget that? How did I bounce a check? I don't remember spending any money. It must be the bank's fault! Why do I feel like everyone is out to get me?" Of course in reality, none of this is anyone else's fault. Nobody is out to get me. I certainly don't want to be coddled like a child- I am a strong woman! But, when these feelings strike, it is a wild stream of contradicting ideas that flood my mind. I get distracted and forget everyday tasks. I can't remember things my family tells me that are important. I feel like my world is spinning out of control sometimes.
So, before I spontaneously combust right before everyone's eyes- I have to maintain my medication. I have one that I take that keeps me on an even keel. The other is for extremely tense times when I just need to calm down. It gives me the deep breath that I would normally take before dealing with a hard situation. Amazingly, I can actually feel it work. I notice when I am taking my medication regularly that I pass right over that part of "I can't take any more!" into, "alright, how can I work this out?" The beauty of these medications is that they are not mood altering and they do not make me sleep. They let me be me again.
I am lucky enough to be aware that my mind and emotions like to take over the ship sometimes and I am able to warn someone that I am having a hard time dealing with something. Anyone who knows me- knows how hard it is for me to say I can't handle something so if I say it, they listen. For example, I have a hard time going into large grocery stores. I know this is a problem area for me. People in our society are often downright rude and I take issue with this. Therefore, when I am in a store aisle and a woman hits me with her cart because she wants to get through the aisle and apparently does not know the term "excuse me" I address the person. If I could just let it go at that, it would be great. However, I then carry that anger around with me for the rest of the trip through the store. I am on high alert for rude people, and they are never hard to find. I am thinking of how uneccessary it is for people to treat one another like this. In fact, I am so distracted by this that I forget half of the items I am there for. I would rather avoid the entire thing and just not go. But, this is unrealistic. Life has to go on.
I have to remain strong and keep pushing myself forward. I have two teenagers who need a strong, sane mother. I have a boyfriend who is willing to go get the groceries without me, but would rather have me with him. Its not fair to him if I never go. He is very understanding and supportive- it is frustrating for him because he would like to fix it so I don't feel like this anymore but he cannot control it anymore than I can. So, it is a struggle everyday. If you have a loved one that suffers with anxiety, try to understand what they are going through. If it is you that suffers from anxiety- let others in. Don't handle it alone. Don't just assume it is a strange mood that you can't shake. Stress wears us down, and sometimes we just can't take any more before it breaks us down. Sometims anxiety strikes when there are no signs or sources of stress. It manifests itself. Anxiety is something that can be a positive feeling as well as a negative feeling. It can motivate us to do something, and it can also go hand in hand with anticipation for a great event. Sometimes, I look at it as a way that my body is telling me to stop and remember that I have to take care of myself in order to take care of those I love.
A Few Suggestions for Handling Anxiety
- Hobbies- Painting, Writing, Building, Reading
- Pets are So Helpful in Relieving Anxiety- Never judgemental, Love unconditionally
- Family- Supportive family members, fun and positive family members and friends
- Exercise- A good brisk walk can do wonders, any sports or activity that brings enjoyment
- Be Like a Child- Stop and see the little things, be silly, be carefree for a little while
- Have Hope- Hope brings you out of the dark