Most of the people I know or interviewed have this type of anxiety disorder, including myself.
Recap: Generalized Anxiety is sub category of anxiety, which is the most common, that is so intense that it can interfere with one’s daily life.
Everyone is different but, some of the usual signs and symptoms of generalized anxiety are: worrying more than usual about everyday things, have trouble controlling worry or feeling extra nervous, restless, cannot concentrate, easily spooked, trouble falling or staying asleep, easily fatigued or tired all of the time, achey, twitch, irritable or on edge, sweat a lot, and feel light-headed or out of breath.
This disorder moves in and you have to tiptoe around it, hoping that nothing will set it off. . . anything random can set it off though. It is an overwhelming worry that you can’t control and it takes over. This can send people into panic/anxiety attacks.
I know you guys can read Google if you want to know more, so I will get into what the people I interviewed had to say about their disorder and get some background from them. As I said above, almost all of the people I interviewed has GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder). It is a common disorder that unfortunately also seems to begin with family.
After months (unfortunately) of being able to think, I have eliminated some of the questions I’ve asked because if I used them all, this post would go on for years. So thank you for all of the patient people who answered all of my questions and were my guinea pigs. I’m still trying to figure out the right rhythm for my blog.
The first few questions I wanted to know was what their first episode was like, how old they were, and if there were any triggers. Instead of me explaining what I was told, I am going to give them their own voice and tell you themselves.
“I’ve had anxiety since I was a child. My sister and I were taken from our grandmas custody (our dad was deployed) she was 2-3 I was about 1.5 our dad was 20 and very young and so was our mom. Our mom kidnapped us from the custody of our grandma and took us out of state. She was arrested and finally had to tell the police that she had two babies at home with no one there to watch us.. after we had not be changed for more than a day we were drinking toilet water and my sister was trying to find what she could to feed me. When this happened (other grandma) and dad said when they got us back we were never the same and we began having anxiety about being taken or abandoned that early on. We would hid food in our room in case someone were to leave us… i don’t remember anything from my childhood and I’m pretty sure it’s a defense mechanism my brain has done to protect me. My sister is the same, she remember nothing. So my first episodes were very early on but others remember what I don’t. If you want to know about the first one I actually remember it would probably be when I was 12, my dad and step mom had a toxic relationship he was deploying she was verbally and mentally abusive to us and it let me to start cutting and bulimia which I was sent to counseling and therapy for and they tried to medicate me and my parents refused… so still to this day I’ve been struggling with my mental illness untreated. I try my best to handle it on my own but not always successfully. So both of those could be considered my first episodes one I don’t remember the other was caused by conflict between my parents/their toxic relationship/and the abandonment of my dad leaving and putting my step mom before my sister and I.”
“When I was pretty young, probably around 1st grade, I played in my first ever team sport, softball. I remember some details of the first game I played but what I remember the most was feeling sick and I actually ended up breaking out with hives over my entire body during the game. My parents didn’t know what it was that caused the hives so they kept me home from school even though I felt fine the next day. Over the years my anxiety continued to present itself in the form of hives, stomach aches, nausea to the point of actually vomiting, and eventually panic attacks. I was eventually diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder in 2013.”
“The first time I ever questioned myself was actually in college. I was single, ready to go out and meet new people and have new experiences. I went out to a club my friend worked at. He was a bouncer and got me in free. I met another bouncer and couldn’t believe how hot he was. I got so nervous and thought he would never take interest in me. He incited is to party at his place and to my complete and utter shock, he did show interest in me. He tried to get me to stay. I got so panicked that I ended up going to hide in my friend’s car. I started to feel my heart pound and my throat felt thick. I wanted to stay, but my fear crippled me. I couldn’t bring myself to get out of the car. I kept thinking that this wasn’t normal for me. I had a few other “episodes” like that over the next few months, and I ended up talking to my doctor about it. She said she thought it was stress. I knew she couldn’t be right. My issues continued for a couple of years and she kept insisting it was stress. I kept trying to push myself through it. When I got pregnant with my son at the age of 23, it rose to a whole new level. I started to get anxiety attacks where I thought I couldn’t ever be a good mother. I talked about my fears with my OB-GYN. She thought it might be anxiety, and began to talk to me about how I felt. I explained that I would often catch myself in a spiral of thoughts starting with “what if my kid grows up to hate me” and ending up someplace much darker, with thoughts like “what if you fail so badly that you kill your child?” After I delivered, she offered some anti-depressants, thinking maybe it was postpartum depression. She tried a few different prescriptions and dosages and found that anxiety meds helped more than anything else. Eventually she referred me back to my primary care doc, and she continued to try to adjust dosages and trying different types of meds. She couldn’t pinpoint a certain type of trigger, so I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. I eventually weaned myself off of the meds because I went through a rough period where I couldn’t afford the meds anymore. It still affects me today, but I’ve learned some coping mechanisms that really seem to help me. When I start to get anxious about problems in my own life, I start to play puzzle games on my phone. My brain gets focused on solving the puzzles instead of the issues in my head.”
“My first episode was in elementary school, but I didn’t realize what it was until much later. I was having trouble with homework and I felt like I would never grasp it and I spiraled into thinking I’d never graduate or make anything of myself. I want to say this was around 4th or 5th grade. I cried and started pulling my hair out and just kind of fell into a hole that night. Thats when I started feeling sick every morning before school, but my mom always told me I was just being dramatic. (I feel no hostility toward her for ignoring the signs). I was actually not diagnosed until I was 24, after I had my son and a lot of other issues reared their heads. After learning my history the doctor decided I’ve had generalized anxiety for years, along with depression and bipolar disorder. I didn’t learn until after my diagnoses that these things run in my family.”
“My first one was in 9th grade when my parents were arguing. I knew it was upsetting to me, hearing the fight and what have you, but I never placed a finger on it til I was much older. I remember being in the bathroom while they fought and freaked out about what may happen”
I wanted to ask them about their disorders specifically. What they thought about it and how it has changed their life.
I wanted to know what they believed the common misconception about having generalized anxiety disorder.
“That’s hard I really am not sure I guess the most common misconception in my opinion that I’ve experienced is people thinking it’s something that can be handled or easily turned off. People don’t understand think that in someway have control over it when I really don’t. Taking my husband a lot of time to realize that positive thinking alone is not enough to “get over” my anxiety.”
“A common misconception I have encountered with any kind of anxiety disorder is that it “can’t really be that bad” or people thinking that anxiety is something that everyone experiences so you should be able to do what everyone else is doing. Everyone does experience anxiety or feelings of anxiety. The difference is when those feeling occur, the intensity of the feelings, and having the ability to calm yourself down or redirect those anxious thoughts. People without an anxiety disorder are often able to redirect their thoughts pretty quickly. Whereas someone with a disorder may experience a situation that triggers those feelings of anxiety and rather than being able to redirect, the thoughts just escalate until it becomes unbearable or something outside of their subconscious interferes.”
“I think the biggest misconception I hear is that you can tell when people have anxiety and depression. Excuse me but thats bullshit. Plenty of us are fully functioning, until we aren’t. That’s when people tend to say “Well they didn’t seem like they had anything wrong” We’re good at hiding it until we feel safe. Which, by the way, thank you for making me feel safe and comfortable while sharing!”
It’s always interesting to hear what other people think when they are faced with how people treat them or how society looks at their disorder. So I wanted to add the most important question, in my opinion. I asked them what they would like for you all to know. Something from a person suffering from a disorder, to another person. Here is what they told me.
“to get help as soon as possible. To go talk to someone before you get in a serious relationship or have children to start working on the issue as soon as possible before you get older and it’s harder to manage.”
“I would like to tell whoever is reading this to keep things in perspective as best as they can. Having a mental health diagnosis does not mean you are worth less than anyone else. You deserve to take up space in this world just as much as any other person. There will be good days and there will be terrible days but a new day always comes. To those that read that do not have a diagnosis, be understanding and patient. If you do not understand something ask about it rather than assuming one way or another. Everyone struggles and copes in different ways and mental health is not something you can see. Be brave so you can help other’s be brave.”
“I just want people to know it’s okay to be scared. Find at least one person you trust, get together in a safe space, and share a tiny bit with them and see how it feels. It might just be the key to unlocking the door to better mental health. Find a doctor that believes in you. Get rid of anyone that makes you feel like less of a person because you bravely admit that everyday is a fight. And most importantly, you are NEVER alone.”
Thank you so much to the people that let me interview them, and patiently waited so many months for me to publish it. I appreciate everyone’s patience as I deal with my own mental illnesses. As always, I hope I can make you all proud. Feedback is always welcome. Love you all!
Bipolar Weirdo ❤
Disclaimer: I am not a healthcare professional. If you have mental health related questions, I highly recommend you seek a healthcare professional.