Typically I tend to be a bit humorous about things and even poke fun, but this is something that’s very REAL for me, and definitely not funny. I’ve seen a lot of articles about mental health issues lately and I feel the need to shed some light on something I struggle with on a daily basis.
I know there are a lot of people (like myself), out there who are suffering from an anxiety disorder. It makes it incredibly hard to deal with when people don’t understand what you are going through. I think what makes it difficult is that many don’t know the difference between experiencing a little nervousness or anxiety every now and then, and having an anxiety disorder-in which your brain is ALWAYS on alert, ALWAYS worrying, and NEVER stops. There is NO shutting it off.
For me, it’s feeling worried about things that haven’t happened. Worried about things I can’t remember I’m worried about, but the fact that I can’t remember worries me. Feeling exhausted. Feeling like doing nothing. Feeling guilty for not getting things done because of the exhaustion I feel caused by all the meaningless worry….
A typical bad day for me…
5:35 am: Alarm goes off giving the 25 minute warning until absolute getting out of bed time is required.
5:36 am: Must get out of bed to pee. Can’t go back to sleep if I have to pee.
5:38 am: Start thinking about what needs to be done today. Realize I need to get gas this morning. Try to go back to sleep for a few minutes.
5:40 am: Can’t stop thinking about how I have to get up in 20 minutes, and how I will probably be late getting the kids to school since I have to get gas. Wait. Is the gas station open that early?
5:41 am: Look up what time gas station down the street opens. Relieved to find out it will be open when I need to use it. Try to go back to sleep. Having a hard time catching my breath…
5:43 am: Thinking about how it’s almost time to wake up. Pick up phone to see how much time I have left to sleep. Try to go back to sleep for a few minutes.
5:45 am: Remember that the dog food container is empty and I will need to get the giant bag of food out of my van this morning and fill it. Try to go back to sleep.
5:48 am: Can’t stop obsessing about all the little things that need to be done this morning. Decide to get out of bed now since my pulse is now racing.
5:50 am: Having a hard time breathing. Starting to get lightheaded….
(2 hours later…)
7:45 am: Pull out of school parking lot. Notice that right lane is closing because of road work. Put blinker on to signal I need to get over to left lane. WHY won’t they let me over?! Don’t they see my lane is closed??! Get over just in time. Having a hard time breathing again. My neck and shoulders feel incredibly tight and painful from being so tense. Just want to hurry up and get home.
7:55 am: Walk through front door. Glad to be home. Now what do I need to do?? I can’t remember. Pay bills? Should I go to the gym? Should I clean? Should I take my son to the park for socialization? Maybe I should take the dogs for a walk? What are we going to have for dinner? Do I need to thaw something out? Wait. Didn’t I need to make an appointment for something? I should really look up the schools for next year. What should I do first????? I can’t breathe again.
7:57 am: Walk around procrastinating. Decide to sit down and look at phone while I catch my breath. Feel bad about not being able to make a decision. Start to think about how much time has passed already, and how I should have started doing something, ANYTHING already. Worrying about how today is going to be a failure and I won’t get anything done….
8:00 am: Feeling exhausted for absolutely no reason. I really don’t feel like doing anything now. I still can’t breathe. I now have a massive headache…
8:01 am: I decide to take my son to the park. I don’t want him to suffer from boredom while I make up my mind.
8:30 am: Arrive at park. No one is here. Feeling relieved that I don’t have to make small talk at the moment. I still feel like I can’t breathe. I try some breathing exercises. It doesn’t work.
8:35 am: I follow my son around. He is smiling and having a good time. I’m glad we came here.
8:37 am: Son notices another little boy and his mom walking over. I’m not in any mood to talk to anyone, but I don’t want to be rude.
8:38 am: The mom says hello, and mumbles a few things. I can’t think straight right now, I’m still concentrating on trying to breathe. This day sucks. I smile and nod hoping it’s sufficient and she didn’t just ask me a specific question.
9:45 am: I’ve successfully carried on a conversation with this woman, and have relaxed a tiny bit. I’m running out of things to say though. It’s time to leave.
10:00 am: Back at home. Now what? I can never decide what needs to be done first. Why is it only 10?? Ugh….
10:05 am: Decide to do a laundry.
10:20 am: Color with son. Think about how I probably should be doing something else. I know there’s something important I should be doing right now. What IS it???? I can’t breathe again.
11:00 am: Decide it’s close enough to lunch time. My chest feels tight. Feeling exhausted. Feeling guilty for feeling exhausted since I haven’t accomplished hardly anything today. What am I forgetting about? Why can I still not breathe????? There must be something I’m missing…
11:15 am: Eat lunch. Take twice as long since I’m thinking about each bite I’m swallowing thingking abotut how I could potentially choke. Think about how silly it is that I’m even thinking about that. Seriously what am I so worried about this morning??! I don’t even know……….
There are ways to cope. Some people are able to get control by doing breathing exercises, or meditation. Sometimes exercise helps, or just getting outside and getting fresh air. Other people find that medication seems to help them the best. There is NO wrong way to treat it. Only YOU (and your doctor) know what works best for you, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Do not feel embarrassed. If you need help. ASK.
If you suffer from GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) like me, sometimes it helps to remember that you’re not alone. If you don’t, I’m sure you probably know someone in your life that is dealing with this. Maybe it will give you some insight into how they feel, and you might have a little more patience with them the next time they “just need a minute.”