GAD This Sucks: My Journey with Generalized Anxiety Disorder

I have decided to share the story of my struggle with anxiety, more specifically Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). I thought long and hard about this, and if my story can help others fighting this illness, then it is worth it.  It is going to be raw and real, so buckle up.

Some of you may be struggling with GAD, and not even know it.  Others of you may know a loved one suffering from GAD, and you may not know how to handle it.  And many of you may be hurting in silence.  I am hoping that whatever category you fall into and wherever you are in your journey, that you can relate to my story.

As some of you may know, Generalized Anxiety Disorder is very complex and dynamic in nature.  Due to its complexity, I think it is important to not only share my story, but also share  important statistics on GAD as well as bring awareness to its causes, symptoms, treatment options, and many other aspects of this illness.  I feel this is so important to know for ourselves and for our loved ones.

The blog will be weekly, and I am hoping you will come on this journey with me.  We may be on different paths, but we can learn and support each other on the way. Please feel free to comment on the blogs, share your story, and ask as many questions as you want!  Just remember we all have our own story and our own journey, but together we are all human beings that deserve to live our best life possible.

 

Hey Little Fighter…Soon Things Will Be Brighter

Hey Little Fighter…Soon Things Will Be Brighter

 Lately, I have been thinking about the idea that if we work hard and keep on fighting, there will be better days. We have all been told this at some point in our lives, and we all have told ourselves this as well.  But what if there isn’t that one bright rainbow at the end of the road?

When I think about my anxiety, I have always thought that there would be a day that it was gone.  Like when I was a little kid on a road trip with my family.  I would repeatedly ask my parents, “Are we there yet?”  Although I knew our family vacation would be fun, my annoying little brother wasn’t so much fun.  However, once we got out of the car, I knew that the car ride was worth the beautiful place we were going.  But as time went on, I began to doubt this final place of happiness existed for myself and my anxiety.

I knew facing my anxiety straight on would be an upward battle, and that I was going to have to fight my hardest.  I tried everything and anything to lessen my anxiety.  At times, I felt wonderful, and that I had a great grasp on my anxiety.  But I also had times, where I experienced terrifying anxiety and panic.  I didn’t understand why this was happening.  I was trying my best and working so hard on getting better.  When was it going to get better?  Would I ever feel no anxiety for a consistent period of time?  Why are certain people overcoming their obstacles, and I am in a vicious cycle with mine?

Looking back, I threw myself a pity party and compared myself to others.  I used to be hard on myself for doing both of those actions, but it is something that I needed to feel and do at the time.  Those were my raw emotions, and it was part of my journey.

See, there really isn’t a final destination in regards to anxiety.  It is a journey.  There will be good days, and some pretty crappy ones.  But these bad days will get less and less.  I know we all want that final place where we are happy and anxiety-free, but it does not work like that.  I know, I sound like the bad news bear.  Can someone bring me some honey?  But in all seriousness, it is okay that it is a journey, and one that only you can go on.  But the great thing is that we can keep learning and growing together.  That is the beauty in the struggle and in the journey.  So, take your time, embrace those bad days and know it will get better.  Learn from them and others, and before you know it, all of these little steps in the right direction will lead you to the path and life you were meant to be on.  Yes, it is cheesy, but sometimes the truth is.  And lastly, I know you guys are stronger and braver than you think, so look at your anxiety straight on and make him your b**ch.  Disclaimer: Sometimes swear words are necessary, and this time was one of them.

So, if you want some company on your journey with anxiety, comment below.  You can also join one of our groups where you can meet others in similar situations.  Sign up for free and find out some pretty cool things that are happening soon!

 

 

 

“I told you so”-Sincerely, your intuition

Ahhh… that good ole’ gut feeling. You know the one I am talking about. For me, it is my biggest frenemy. It is great when we agree, but when we are at odds, it can be a nasty battle. Well, at least it used to be that way. Now, although we still disagree at times, I have found out that he is always right. My gut that is…:)

For a long time, I did not know why I had a feeling that something was not right. There would be a situation and my gut was screaming no, but I just didn’t listen to it. I honestly did not know why. Was I not brave enough to speak up? Did I just want to fit in? Did I feel guilt and embarrassment about having anxiety so I chalked up this “feeling” to that? Did I just take the easy way out? Or maybe I just wanted things to go smoothly and be positive.

As I now look back, I think it was a mixture of all these reasons, depending on the situation. But I believe my anxiety and the negative feeling I had towards it played a significant role. Anxiety and the stigma that goes along with it has made me feel at times very weak and vulnerable. It has made me feel as though I should second guess myself. Myself and sometimes others have made anxiety the scapegoat for most of my reasons and reactions. And I believed that for a long time, allowing myself to not speak up, to not make the best decisions for myself, and to continue this cycle of decision-making.

See, anxiety is often associated with lots of worry, overanalyzing, and negative thoughts. Although this is true at times, it does not mean that we should blame everything on it. But unfortunately, we often do not trust ourselves or our gut due to having anxiety. This is so unfortunate, but I know that I fell victim to it, and many others have too. And as much as I get mad at myself for it, I am glad to have learned from all these experiences. And by all, I mean A LOT. But hey, at least I am learning and evolving. That is the important part, right? I think so.

So, the moral of the story is listen to your gut. I know you have heard this many times, and it is definitely not easy, but do it! Having anxiety makes it a little more difficult to separate anxiety from your gut feeling, but over time you will begin to know the difference. Embrace yourself, anxiety and all, and your confidence in the ability to make the best decisions will increase. Disclaimer: It will take time and work, but it will be worth it. And in times of indecision, listen to yourself and trust that gut!

50 Shades of Anxiety

Don’t get too excited. This does not include the handsome Christian Grey and all that comes along with him.  Trust me, I wish it did.  But on the bright side, these 50 shades can be just as exciting, twisted, and dark as the movies.  Since we have gotten that out of the way, it is time to discuss the different aspects of anxiety.

Most people, even the ones experiencing anxiety, think that anxiety presents with the same symptoms that we have all heard of; The sweaty palms, heart pumping through your chest, the feeling as though you are slowly dying as you are trying to catch your breath. But this is not always the case.  Anxiety can present in many ways that we are not even aware of.  I learned this the hard way after not being able to understand what was going on with me. So I thought I would share with you guys some of these hidden symptoms of anxiety that I experienced, and how I deal with them when they arise.

The major ones for me are headaches and physical pain.  Sometimes these headaches would be dull but consistent in nature.  Others times it would feel like there was a rubber band around my head with pain radiating down my neck.  They were so painful.  Of course, I did the one thing that I shouldn’t have done and went straight to the internet.  This only made my anxiety increase, my headaches worsen, and I was convinced it was a brain tumor, and that I had weeks to live. This may sound ridiculous to some, but others with intense worry and anxiety, you know what I am talking about.  After my doctor couldn’t find anything, it was suggested that it could be anxiety.  I thought that there was no way that these headaches as well as aches and pain could be caused by my anxiety.  Doesn’t anxiety only affect me mentally?  The answer is no. It also causes physical pain.  I just could not believe it.  But after the agonizing worrying and doctor appointments, I believed that anxiety was the root cause of these aches.

From that point forward, I decided that when I was feeling those headaches and random aches in my body, I would make a conscious effort to not panic right away.  Now to be completely honest, I still get a little panicky when I have pain, but I am learning to deal with the pain in a calmer manner. I sometimes do a few relaxation techniques that work for me.  For one, I tell myself to relax and that it is going to be okay. Half the battle is a mental one so always try to think positively even when it is difficult. Sometimes this works along with a few deep breaths, but sometimes it definitely does not. So as weird as this sounds, I have a small blood pressure/pulse device that measures both in a few seconds.  This helps me when I am having chest pains and/or just want to make sure I am ok. It helps ease my mind.  I especially do this when I am exercising, and/or I don’t feel like myself.  This helped me when my panic and anxiety got so high that I was mistaking them for a more serious condition such as arrhythmia/heart attack.

So just remember that anxiety rears his ugly head at different times and in many different ways.  Being aware of some of this hidden anxiety is important in order to deal with them in a way that is healthy and helpful to you individually.

If you can relate to this, please comment below and tell your story of what happened and what helped you deal with these hidden anxieties. If you are still currently dealing with this, please share your story, and learn ways you can lessen and/or interrupt your anxiety. Remember that you are not alone, and we all need a lending ear and a hopeful heart at times.

 

 

 

 

 

Will I be my Valentine?

Valentine’s Day is a day filled with a mixture of emotions.  Some are anxiously awaiting with anticipation with what the holiday must offer while others are celebrating their singlehood.  And a fair amount of people are feeling lonely and depressed.  It is thought to be that approximately 40% of people feel lonely on Valentine’s Day.  We have all been there and felt this way.  One Valentine’s Day can be so amazing while the next year you can feel so depressed.  While Valentine’s day can be very unpredictable throughout the years, we can celebrate the one thing on that day which can be predictable: Loving ourselves.

Yes, I said it.  We need to celebrate the love we have for ourselves.  The most important relationship we will have is with our self.  Without that, we are unable to fully love and accept anyone else.  It is not always easy to do, and it takes time and sacrifice.  Most people want to be in loving and committed relationships.  But the reality is that those relationships can unfortunately come and go.  But if you are in a loving and committed with yourself, you are bound to be happy regardless of your relationship status.

So let Valentine’s Day be a special day for you to treat yourself with the love and respect that you deserve.  Regardless of your relationship status, do the things you love today.  I mean all of them!  Get yourself that dinner you wanted. Buy those flowers and chocolates that you love.  Make that relaxing bubble bath.  Read that book or watch your favorite movie with a nice glass of wine.  Think about all of the funny and amazing experiences you have had and laugh until you cry. Do it all without any self-judgment, and soak in every moment.

Spoil yourself and smile.  Your time will come.  And when it does, you are going to be ready to take that love and allow it to flourish with another person. In the meantime, work on that relationship with yourself. It will be worth it!

Start on Monday

I cannot tell you how many times I have said the phrase, “I will start on Monday.”  I am not sure why I even picked that day of the week.  There is a reason they say case of the Mondays and not Monday Fun day.  But in my head, I felt like I would be ready then to take on the task at hand.  Maybe I was thinking more in the lines of Motivational Monday.  I was excited to start my new workout or a new book I read.  It felt good to look forward to something new and refreshing.  I kept thinking that this would be the time for change.  But Monday came, and I froze with fear.  And that’s when the cycle of anxiety reared its ugly head.

See here is the thing.  People like me with anxiety and panic can have a difficult time executing what we really want to do.  Unfortunately, it allows for other people to think that we are flaky and that our actions do not coincide with our words.  This is not the case.  We want to be able to do the things we love.  Even on a simpler level, we want to be fully independent and can get through all our days without any panic and minimal anxiety like “normal” people do.  We have goals, dreams, etc. and we so desperately want them to come true.  I call it being a prisoner of the mind.  We want out, but continue to stay in the confinement of our safe space.

I can remember pushing everything back feeling like things will get done when the timing is right.  But what I have come to realize is that there is no better time than now.  We have all heard people say that.  And trust me, those words can roll right off my tongue, but have trouble leading my feet.  I thought I would just start here and now.  I mean how hard could this be?  Well, let me tell you, it was more difficult than I thought it would be.

So, I made my lists and I felt good, good.  But then I just was not sure where to start.  I mean just start?  Ok.  But what if you know what you want, but you are not sure how to get started and achieve it?  All of these thoughts ran through my mind, of course raising my anxiety.  Now what?

Against my natural instincts to multi-task (I always feel like I must be doing something or playing catch up), I decided to just focus on the most important task and start small.  It took a little while to clear my head of all the other thoughts, but it actually worked!  All these years putting effort in to so many things were really detrimental to my progress.  I thought I was at least accomplishing a lot of things, but really, I was just putting little effort into each project and increasing my anxiety.

So, the moral of the story is to not wait until Monday.  You will be scared, shaky, uncomfortable, and you are going to want to fight it all the way.  But take it slow, step by step, and it will become easier.  You will have your setbacks, but keep going.  You can do this!  Comment below with any ideas on how to start now.  What has worked for you?  Let us start a dialogue and help each other get to where we want to be.  I am in.  Are you?!?

Panic Room

I have suffered from panic attacks since I was 18-years-old.  I remember the first time I had one.  I had no idea what was going on.  I felt very off as if I didn’t know what was happening around me.  I began to sweat and my heart felt like it was going to jump right out of my chest.  I felt like I was going to die.  All I wanted to do was find a safe spot where I could be alone.  I wanted to run, but I was dizzy with fear.  I sat down, and for what seemed like forever, I continued to be in this state of mind.  After this “episode” was over, I felt scared and ashamed.  I had no idea what was happening to me.  I thought I was physically ill, and instead of telling anyone, I kept quiet.

“I can shake this.  I am strong, and I will overcome this like I have every other obstacle.”  That’s what I kept telling myself.  It worked for a little while.  And by worked, I meant that I got good and creative with making excuses and covering it up.  I could feel myself sinking, but my head was always above the water.  It was a constant cycle of panicking, feeling bad about myself, covering it up, feeling better, and so on.  But no matter how bad it got, I couldn’t tell anyone.  I knew at that time that they would not understand because I didn’t even understand it.  I kept putting off the inevitable until I couldn’t anymore.  It was affecting my life in every aspect.  I finally had to do something about it.

I think about that time, and it still haunts me.  To this day, I have bouts of panic and moments that I am scared to death it is going to get that bad again.   I just want to be alone in my panic and anxiety away from everyone.  To me, it is safe.  Anyone with anxiety knows that we have our safe room/place.  We go there when this happens.  Because of my Generalized Anxiety Disorder, feeling safe and comfortable is a must for me.  And with this comes the fact that a lot of people do not fully understand anxiety, and to the extent that it can occur.  I still struggle with fully understanding anxiety, and finding those that understand.  Those people that want to learn together, educate each other, help each other, and lend a compassionate ear to those people, like ourselves, that need to feel support.  I know I can’t do this alone, and no one should have to go through life feeling anxious and alone.

If any of you can relate to this, please comment below and become a part of a community of people who are just trying to feel happy and healthy in a safe and judgment-free zone.  Feel free to share your own experiences as you may get the support you need as well as help others feeling the same way as you:)

Accessorize Anxiety

Hey guys,

This part of the website is going to talk about accessorizing.  You are probably wondering what accessorizing has to do with anxiety.  Just like we accessorize ourselves, we can accessorize anxiety.  This section is going to be discussing two main ways that it can affect anxiety.  The first part is going to discuss how it can lessen it.

If you are anything like me, anxiety can take over your life at times.  You may not be able to do much let alone leave the house.  You may get even more anxiety thinking about going out, more specifically the “getting ready part.” Regardless if you are leaving the house or going out, accessorizing can help lessen those worries that may accompany you.  Over the years, I have learned little helpful ways in which allowed me to feel confident in 5-10 minutes.  Although what is inside of you is what is most important, feeling good on the outside can really help with self-esteem.  This will eventually lead to a happier and less stressful outlook.  This is just one of the ways to begin to feel better, but it is a fun one!

The second part of this section is how you can accessorize anxiety.  Just like we discussed earlier, we can accessorize ourselves to help feel better.  Well the same goes for anxiety.  For me, anxiety will always be a part of my life.  I had a difficult time accepting it for a long time.  But I have learned to embrace it, and even turned it into a positive.  Just because we have anxiety, it does not mean that it needs to define us.  At some point in our lives, we have probably labeled or been labeled the anxious one.  But we are so much more even though it does not seem like we are at times.  This is where we can accessorize our anxiety.  We can turn it into a positive, but also show more sides to ourselves than just our anxiety.  Our anxiety needs to take a backseat to all our other amazing qualities that we sometimes forget that we embody.

So guys, every week I will be posting a blog about accessorizing anxiety.  Please leave comments on what you want to hear more about regarding this topic.  Also, let me know how you accessorize your anxiety!