I was diagnosed with GAD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, in 1998. My diagnoses came after a particularly messy divorce in which I lost everything and was subjected to being harassed by my ex and his new girlfriend. It was a terribly sad time for me, the only thing that kept me going was my daughter. Without her I am not sure where I would have ended up.
My diagnoses came after I went to the doctor because I was getting hives all over my chest and belly. I also felt like I had a large lump in my throat that would not go away. At times I felt like I couldn’t swallow. It kept me from sleeping, eating was difficult, I felt so tired and overwhelmed.
The doctor sent me for several tests including an endoscopy. They found nothing wrong. It was at that point I was prescribed Paxil. It took about 30 days for me to feel any difference. I gradually began to be able to focus more, feel less agitated. The hives and the lump went away. Things were good.
I began dating and met someone. We had a really nice time together, I was happy. As our relationship was approaching the one year mark I started to notice that things were different. When I confronted him about his moodiness, his frequent disappearances, his overall change in demeanor, he admitted to me that he was using cocaine. I was devastated. There was no way I was going to have him in my life or in my daughters life until he got himself clean. I told him I did not want to see him until he got into a rehab and got off the drugs. I told him I would help him any way I could but I would not be in a relationship with someone that was actively using drugs.
Two weeks later I found him with a self-inflicted gun shot wound to the head. He lived for 15 hours, until it was decided that he would be taken off of life support.
Paxil could not scratch the surface of what I was dealing with. I was in a deep and dark place. I did not want to leave the house, I did not want to see anyone, do anything. After much pleading from my family, I went to see a therapist. It was determined that I was suffering from PTSD. It was a relief to know that what I was feeling had a name. The nightmares, the flashbacks, my jumpiness, the anger and irritation. I was put on medication and saw my therapist regularly. It helped and with time I was able to feel better, less jumpy and more confident.
This was 14 years ago and even today I still suffer from anxiety which is a byproduct of PTSD. I take 100mg of Zoloft daily. I try to avoid things that will trigger my anxiety. I make sure I get enough rest. I avoid food with a lot of sugar, I do not drink alcohol or caffeine. I also try to avoid processed and fatty foods.
I challenge myself regularly to step outside of my comfort zone. To participate in group activities, go to places where there are crowds, talk to people. It is so difficult sometimes. There are times when my anxiety is so high that I feel like I cannot even breathe much less go to a crowded mall. There are times when I feel like everyone is looking at me, judging me, ridiculing me for being overweight. I get wracked with fear that I will lose my job, or that something awful will happen to my daughter or my family. I fear that I will lose my house, I fear that there will be a fire at my house, I fear so many irrational things. At times like this, when I am spiraling out of control I have to remember to ignore that fear. Do not listen to that nagging, negative voice in my head. Breathe. Relax. Trust in myself and trust in the process.
I write this with the sincerest hope that someone who is struggling with anxiety will read this and know they are not alone. It is a battle everyday but if you take it one step at a time things will start to improve.
If you are dealing with anxiety please leave me a comment and let me know how you deal with your symptoms. I am always looking for tips and advice.