Taking a breather. We came to Gander this evening intending to park and listen to the gospel concert that they were having in the town square but thundershowers made they change their location to the Salvation Army church. So that’s where we are, along with many other people all packed in.
Anyways my anxiety took over so here I am sitting in the car with the air conditioning on, trying to get my heart rate to go down.
Anxiety really sucks. Especially when I’m surrounded by people and my heart starts beating really fast and I can feel it pulsing all over my body. My vision gets all weird and I can’t focus clearly on anything. I’m sweating all over, it runs down and drips off my eyebrows. I have often sweat more during an attack than I have during a cardio workout. Add in the quick, shallow breaths that most often turns into full blown hyperventilating and there you have it.
Sitting in my car. Alone.
In the church parking lot.
I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) when I was 22. And no, it wasn’t because I was a little nervous about living on my own or I had my first boyfriend. No. It was way different than that.
I’d get paralyzed by feelings that I had no explanation for. I’d have no idea what brought it on. Sometimes at night I’d wake up so full of fear that I’d end up throwing up. I’d go to work at Needs Convenience and act as if I had it all together. But that was so far from the truth. I had this permanent lump in my throat. I was always nauseated. I was hyper alert to every sound and movement. I found it extremely hard to talk to people. Both strangers and people I knew. All I wanted was to hide from the world.
To most people I was just really quiet, always lost in thought. But no. That was far from what was going on with me. So yeah. For the past 10 years anxiety has pretty much taken over my life. I have trouble breathing. Hyperventilating is a daily occurrence. I cry over everything. I sweat even in below freezing temperatures. I worry over EVER SINGLE THING and then I even LOOK for things to worry about.
Life with GAD is hard. Very. Very. Hard. It dictates where I go. Who I go with. What I do. How long I do it. It ruins so much, so often.
So for anyone who lives with GAD, or just anxiety in general, I feel your pain.
I will do things when I am ready – not according to society or what Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, or Dr. Travis tells me on TV. No, because they are not inside my body, my head and they sure as hell aren’t living my day-to-day life. So they don’t have a say. There isn’t a secret pill, a number of minutes of exercise or a certain amount of sleep for everyone. We’re not all going to have the same kinds of breakdowns or be inspired by the same thing. It’s just not going to happen.
So yea. I’m different. Sometimes I stay in bed, and watch half hour sitcoms all day. I love the show Mike and Molly because they are so much like my husband and I. These shows that are about crazy, messed up families make me smile because they are basically making light of true life everyday experiences.
Then there are other days I get up and conquer the world. I get all of my chores done around the apartment. Laundry gets done. I may even venture outside and go for coffee or for a drive with my hubby.
I will do what’s best for me when I can.
Other times I know I will end up doing things that are very harmful to myself. I admit that. I have some very bad coping mechanisms that are extremely unhealthy. But yet at times I still resort to it.
But that’s who I am and nothing will ever change that. Living with bipolar and GAD and PTSD is very hard. I don’t live from day to day. My life goes hour by hour. It’s how I cope. I deal with one hour of my life at a time. Every 60 minutes marks a success for me. I survived.
It’s hard to explain the power of an anxiety disorder. It overtakes your mind and flows through your entire body. There can be something as simple as a slight change in my routine and BOOM, panic attack.
The thoughts start. This isn’t what I usually do. How do I handle this change of plans?? What do I do next? Then the physical attack starts. My heart is racing. Am I having a heart attack? I think I’m dying. I can’t breathe. Oh my gosh, I can’t swallow. Seriously, my throat isn’t working …. I’m going to suffocate. I’m going to pass out.
That’s just a small sample of a panic attack. You can tell me I wasn’t ACTUALLY having a heart attack and I wasn’t REALLY dying. Yeah that’s probably true, but what was happening was VERY real. Sooooo many times I find myself gasping for air because I literally cannot swallow or breathe. It’s real, it’s scary, and it leaves me in nothing but a mess.
There are ways to cope with GAD – Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Its not a death sentence even though feels like I’m going to die sometimes.
For ppl without anxiety, don’t ever underestimate its power. If you know someone who is struggling, don’t tell them that they are fine, just hold their hand and tell them that they will make it through. What works best for me is when my hubby looks directly in my eyes, hands on my shoulders and guides me through some deep breathing. Despite pushing him away and even yelling and screaming at him sometimes, he doesn’t turn and walk away and leave me alone. So don’t you do that either. Anxiety is real. The suffering is intense. Just be patient and never walk away, even if they scream in your face.
We need you.