Thursday, February 21, 2013

Anxiety.

Hello there!

This is something I have been wanting to post about for awhile, 
but wasn't exactly sure how to present it.

I want to talk about it for two reasons:
1. It makes me feel better to get it out there.
2. Maybe it could help other people.

A little anxiety in life is normal. Healthy, even. It keeps us on top of our game in stressful situations and can even kick in as a survival instinct.

However, for some of us, that instinct is a little out of whack.

I had atrocious anxiety as a child. It went away during high school, but at this point in my life, it came back with a vengeance.

I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which is where you feel anxious and nervous about anything and everything, all the time.

You know how you feel when you think you forgot to do something important that you can't quite remember, and it nags at you?
That's how I feel all the time.

It's pretty common, but it's also terribly distracting.

On top of that, I am a MAJOR hypochondriac. Google is my greatest frenemy.

Pretty much every day I believe that I have some kind of terminal disease even when it has been proven to me that I DO NOT have it. So I look up other things I could have.

It's a vicious cycle, and it's a major time suck.
I spend SO much time, sometimes up to an hour or two, looking up things 
that could be wrong with me. Almost every day.

Do you know what I could be doing with that time?

LITERALLY ANYTHING ELSE.

To be honest with you, it's a bit debilitating.

I do see a counselor for this, but it's very difficult for me to convey (for some reason) what I'm actually going through.

And I'm trying to handle it all very organically, because while medicine can be helpful, 
it's just a Band-Aid for the real underlying issues.

So it's a bit of a journey for me right now. I am trying to be very honest with myself and accept that it IS possible to change these ways of thinking, but it takes time.

Plenty of people have overcome anxiety and hypochondria, but it's not a quick fix by any means.
This winter I was diagnosed with something called Chiari Malformation, Type I.
It is not life-threatening, just annoying, and there are many varying degrees of it.
I have the mildest version of it, but it comes with symptoms like random numbness, awful headaches, dizziness, arm pain, blurry vision, muscle weakness...the list goes on and on.

After I had that diagnosis, my hypochondria kicked into overdrive. I wondered what else could be wrong.

I think the worst part for me is that some people treat it like a joke.
When you say you have hypochondria, are anxious about something ridiculous or have convinced yourself you have some kind of disease, people laugh about it.

I know, because they do it to me.
It's easy to try to joke about it or laugh it off, but when it comes right down to it, 
it's very scary to try to deal with. It's extremely challenging to work through. And it is something that absolutely requires the support of family and friends.

I have been lucky enough to have people close to me who do take it seriously and try to support me even when I'm acting crazy.

I think the important thing, first of all, is awareness. I felt better when I found out I had an anxiety disorder because it proved the world wasn't as awful as I thought; my brain was just processing it that way.

But now I have to begin trying to get better, and it really is a challenge. But I'm working on it. Exercise, a balanced diet and creative outlets help tremendously. Being alone and drinking caffeine does not. I'm just in the process of finding out what works for me.

So...that's what's on my mind today.

(If you read all of this I'm pretty impressed.)

Mostly I just wanted to get that out there. I would love to hear from anyone going through the same thing, or just any thoughts on it, really.

Sidenote...it's almost the weekend!

Now there's something to smile about.
:)


2 comments:

  1. clicking through blogs and i found yours, and this entry. i too have the amazing fun anxiety disorder. i first got really bad around 2000.. i thought it came out of nowhere, but looking back i realize i was always a little high strung and at certain points in my childhood, i had issues with events/people/things. my disorder manifests itself in a rush of adrenaline, terrible stomach cramping and nausea, which can lead to hours of debilitating bathroom time, vomiting, shaking, terror.. it's awesome. i've learned to sort of shut it down somewhat when i feel the beginnings and the actual episodes haven't been as bad for some time, but it's really hard for me to travel, go out to dinner, go across town, make plans with friends, make friends.. because it's hard to not have that safety net of being at home if and when you feel so miserable. at those times, i have wanted to just die and not have to deal with it. so i've sort of closed myself off of things that i have associated with episodes, which is sad really and i know my fiance is sad we can't do some stuff. it's also made me a much more selfish person in the sense that it's hard for me to be there for other people and for me to not put myself first, because i am so kind of wary, like a stray cat who just can't trust anyone/thing. i have really learned to look out for #1, which can be good, but doesn't leave a lot of room for anything else.

    i haven't really had anyone laugh at me, but they have laughed at my fiance, who is somewhat of a hypochondriac and is definitely a major worrywart. he does that internet webmd thing too. every other day i have to reassure him that he doesn't have a tumor. i think people laugh or kind of brush it off because they just don't understand where we are coming from at all and they don't know what to say. i think they think that by laughing, they are conveying that the issues are things we shouldn't worry about. like, oh, haha, that's nothing to be afraid of, bless your heart, you silly head, now come take the weight off your shoulders and walk with me in the sunshine. like, by laughing it off, we'll see that, ohhhhh.. it really *is* ok! people have to really want to hear about it, to be able to communicate in a loving, supportive way. i am pretty open about my issues, and if i tell an acquaintance or new person, and it just sort of comes up in conversation, the usual response is for them to maybe acknowledge what i've said and the conversation continues, or sometimes they try to offer helpful advice. which is such feeble advice, like, "just try to relax" or "maybe drink tea", or "you just can't let things like that get to you." and i appreciate where they are coming from, that they really have NO idea that if it were as easy as that, i'd be doing it and already BE better. but sometimes people don't know what to say, so they offer the little advice they can because that's what people do when we are told about a problem - you say, "oh, well have you tried this?" because they just want to help. they don't have anything else to offer. they don't realize that they really can't help.

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  2. i think the only people who really can help are the people who a) go through the same thing, and b) the people who are willing to listen and enter into a conversation about it. i have found meditation to be somewhat soothing (this site in particular has been useful: http://www.onlinemeditation.org/meditation-class-1/guided-meditation/). that particular page's meditation has even been useful during a bad headache when i had to go to bed early, turn out the lights and have no stimulation. i listened to it way down low and it took my mind off the pain and did not cause any irritation, which i was kind of surprised by because those headaches are killer. i listened to it several times as i got sleepy enough to go to sleep. i have found deep breathing a helpful in general, but not when i'm having an attack; funnily enough, breathing *less* oxygen helps during those times (breathing through a shirt or under the covers) and trying to breathe really slowly. distraction helps - i play scrabble on my iphone or word games, i also read really simple mellow books like "the cat who..." books or little house on the prarie (it's weird, but i can't deal with new books when i'm anxious, i need something i've read a million times). i have even, and this is crazy i know, tried directing the "bad energy" out of my body via this silly "magic" hand motion they use on this show called "H20: Just Add Water" about teen girl/mermaids (which i found during the summer and just love it's silly simpleness). what a lame thing to do, haha, but the show makes me relaxed and i just felt like this anxiety is this evil dragon and it's not going to get the best of me and i'm going to conquer it with my mermaid magic.. lol. so, yes, i have done stupid lame things just to try to fight this beast... every day it's hard but it's one day at a time, you know?

    anyhow, i'm kind of rambling at this point.. i just wanted to say that i understand and maybe offer a few things that have helped me. anxiety is so different and personal for each person dealing with it - it doesn't seem to manifest itself in the same way for each person. i hope you can find some ways of your own to ground yourself and if not conquer, at least muffle your fears. it's so hard, i know, but you aren't alone (even when you feel like the only one in the world).

    take care,
    christine

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