I Have Anxiety and it’s Time to Stop Hiding
I am not sure where to begin with this. This post has been a long time coming. I spend a lot of time blogging about funny and odd experiences, riddled with sarcasm. I spend even more time laughing at myself. More so than those things, I have felt myself losing who I was to the monster in my closet. Anxiety.
Anxiety. It doesn’t really sound so bad does it? The name itself I mean. It’s not like it’s called something scary like: “Makeyoufeellikeyouaredyingitis.” Well, that’s what it should be called because Anxiety is a Monster and I am cleaning out my closet.
I can’t pin point exactly when or how it started. I have some OCD behaviours mixed in with the mess that is my mental health and so, I am unsure where that all started.
I am sure that it has been a life long thing in fits and starts though and it sure has had a while to develop into the consuming monster it is today.
When I was a lot younger I had separation anxiety from my parents, I remember being 9 or 10 and going to visit my Nanny at her farm house. I remember throwing up and crying all night when I stayed over. In fact, I remember spending a lot of time throwing up through out my childhood. Could there be a correlation there? Maybe.
Fast forward a few years to when I was a young adult living on my own, and I was constantly at the doctors for one ailment or another. Constantly “sick.” Eventually I started having a fear of ridiculous things like Chemicals. I was terrified that if I used them to clean, I would somehow inhale them and die, or get them in my mouth and die. Lots of “What ifs” consumed my life.
I didn’t SEE the problem though. I laughed it off and went about my life.
Over the years I changed. I changed from an outgoing person to a more dumbed down version of myself. The “What ifs” got worse. I was afraid I would say something stupid. I was afraid I would look stupid. Most of all, I was afraid that I just was… stupid. I hid behind a smile, all the while my internal dialogue had me convinced that I should be terrified. Of what? I still don’t know.
The Anxiety Hit me… Hard
The first time I had an anxiety attack I was convinced that I was dieing. I was alone in this dark hole, my heart was beating so fast I thought it was going to fall out of my chest. My face felt like someone was holding it tightly in between their hands and I couldn’t catch my breath. I still have no idea what brought it on.. I was home. Alone. analyzing everything I had said and done that day, terrified I had offended someone as usual…. that was most likely the trigger.
The Happiness wasn’t obsolete
I married my high school sweetheart, had children and was happier than I have ever been. It felt like maybe that internal dialouge was a thing of the passed. Perhaps I was cured by tiny fingers and toes, baby coes and gas smiles!
It didn’t take long for it to all go back to the way it was before.. except this time I was sleep deprived on top of it.
It’s not that I am unhappy…
I am happy. I have a great life. That doesn’t make the anxiety go away.
For so long I have had myself convinced that I was winning the war that was my anxiety. The smile and jokes can be quite convincing, but they never convinced my anxiety to go away. It just got louder. I wasn’t beating it. I was hiding from it. It was winning.
I never openly talked about it with anyone other than my husband and my Aunt. I have had anxiety attacks in public that sent me into a tailspin of fake smiles and almost manic behaviours trying to mask it. I wasn’t winning. I was hiding. Huge difference.
I have recently spoken to a few other people about my struggles and the support has been phenomenal.
Part of my Anxiety and OCD is that I fear taking medication. I really don’t even take Advil. The idea of taking medication for anything else, scares me terribly and so I have not brought this up to my doctor often.
A lot of the time, I can’t turn my mind off. “What if” “I need to..” I can’t shut it off. It’s exhausting. I am constantly worried that I am going to upset someone and even if something is going well, I get to feeling: “Did I say something stupid?”, “Is this person going to hate me?” The possibility of doing something out of my comfort zone makes my stomach feel sick, my heart starts beating fast, my head spins… and so I have been doing my best to stay within my limits.
I also have rituals. My house can’t be too dirty or disorganized or I start to feel incredibly overwhelmed. Before I go to bed, I HAVE to have everything set up and laid out for the next day or I can’t sleep until it’s done.
My head is constantly spinning..
I haven’t been living. I have been functioning. Barely.
I am tired of hiding. I am exhausted from pretending and I am ready to make a change.
Do you Struggle with Anxiety or Mental Illness?
I’m glad you decided to talk about it Jen. I’m not sure if it was ever mentioned to you, but I’ve had quite the lifelong adventure with mental illnesses myself.
I know you’re uncomfortable with the idea of medication, but I have to tell you, I’ve been trying SSRIs with the help of my doctor and some of them are AMAZING for my GAD. I obviously still feel worried about things, but that overwhelming suffocation that usually comes with triggers was completely gone! Once I walked into class 5 minutes late when normally I would just skip the entire thing so that no one would look at me and the prof wouldn’t hate me, lol. It was the smallest thing, but it was so liberating.
There is nothing wrong with trying to find a balance in your brain. Some of us have chemical imbalances that need to be corrected or maintained before progress can be made. I hope that you find what works for you and your mental health! Good luck!
Thank you for sharing! I know it’s incredibly hard to talk about mental illness. I struggle with depression and anxiety. I get caught up in the “What if game” and it isn’t fun.
It is hard to take the steps to get help, but please find someone to talk to. I went to counselling and it really helped. I found some ways to help myself. I also talked to my family doctor and was on medication for a time to help because I couldn’t function anymore.
We need to talk openly about mental illness and our mental health to help get rid of the stigma that surrounds it.
I just wanted to say I know how you feel. I am 30 years old, and I’ve struggled with social anxiety and depression since I was a teenager. I’ve recently (within the last 5 years I’d say) discovered that I am an introvert, which doesn’t really make things better BUT it helps me to understand my behaviors a lot better (like why I will do almost anything to avoid using the phone). The anxiety got really bad after I had my first child (I had post-partum depression with him as well), to the point where I couldn’t go into a store without my husband with me. I was on medication for a few years, and it did help, but it also made me horribly sick if I missed a day. So eventually I got off of it, and I have been off of it for over a year now, and things are okay. I still have my days but I am learning when I can push myself and when I need to stay in my comfort zone. The depression is harder, in some ways, for me to deal with but thankfully it doesn’t come on often. Anyways, the point of this big ramble was just to say that it does get better, with time, knowledge, and understanding. I’ll always be this way, but I am learning that I can still live my life, instead of just hiding and giving up on doing anything.
Oh, hugs. I don’t really know what to say, but please do talk about this to your doctor.
*hugs* to you. Anxiety isn’t deadly to the body, it is to the heart/mind & soul. Thinking of you, and giving you tons of support!! One day at a time… and lots of deep breaths, don’t push yourself too hard.. most importantly, get help if you feel you need it. We all need help, at different times, in different ways….
OMG I soooooo feel you. SO feel you. I just recently talked to my doctor about my anxiety for the same reason. I am now on meds, and whenever I go to take one I have a panic attack about it. But we are still in the process of getting them into my system. I have been hiding it too. I didn’t realize how much it affected my life until I talked to my doc about it.
I am so glad that Shari posted in response on her blog so I could read your story. I had anxiety for as long as I can remember. I remember being so anxious in kindergarten that I would throw up. This continued on to be a fear of mine to throw up in public. It became a cycle. Fear of fear or anxiety attacks. I developed severe agoraphobia where I was housebound at one point. I also have a fear of other people throwing up and it became severe once I had kids. I also have GAD on top of that, so my mind is always filled with ‘what-ifs’ also.
This is also all tied in with social anxiety. I fear so much of what people think of me as a result of bullying as a child ( I was overweight…my peers didn’t bully much, it was actually my own family). I have so much shame because of my anxieties and phobias, not only because I have them but because of what they have prevented me from doing like getting a job, driving, travelling, etc.
I’ve only just recently started to challenge it. I bought and read an awesome book by Barry McDonagh called DARE. I highly recommend it. He includes bonuses when you buy which includes an app, recordings, access to some support and motivation groups on Facebook which I also like. I’ve been using it to step out of my comfort zone. It isn’t easy but it is working. I just went across the province (9 hour drive) to a doctor’s appointment 2 weeks ago and will be going back tomorrow to Lasik done on my eyes. I would have never imagined it. I couldn’t even step out my front door years ago without a full blown panic attack, let alone go 9 hours away and then be “trapped” in a doctor’s office. I did it though and used the steps in the book when I needed to and was only left with mild anxiety.
I wish you the best of luck. It was hard to read your story and hard to write my response but it is so nice to have it out there and to know we aren’t alone. *hugs*