Trigger Warning: I will be discussing my experiences with anxiety and depression including some very particular details of how I felt at certain times. If this can be a trigger for you, I ask that you please refrain from reading this post. Hearing about my experience is not worth the sacrifice to your own well-being.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is defined as “a psychological disorder characterized by excessive or disproportionate anxiety about several aspects of life, such as work, social relationships, or financial matters.” Yes, we all worry to some extent, but people with GAD are often EXTREMELY worried about everyday things even when there is no reason to worry. It is diagnosed when a person worries excessively about a variety of everyday problems for at least 6 months.
On to my personal story… I don’t know when exactly the worry took me over, but I can tell you that for at least the past year it’s been beyond noticeable. I can literally get keyed up and anxious about something as simple as dinner plans or what I’m going to wear for the day. At first I just blamed it on stress because I mean hey, I’m a full-time college student, pre-med, working like 3 jobs, with an ill parent at home. I assume many of you would chalk it up to stress as well.
I started going to counseling trying to work on some behavior modification and work on eliminating the things that I felt were causing me undue stress. It worked a little… for a little while. Then it was like I wasn’t doing anything at all again. I was going once a week, keeping a journal, using my planner, de-cluttering. I felt like I was doing everything I could, but nothing was helping. I constantly felt overwhelmed with things. My focus was lapsing, and I didn’t have the motivation or energy to do things I once loved to do. My enthusiasm for school was starting to wane. Honestly, I was running out of hope.
That’s when it occurred to me that something wasn’t right and something had to give. I went to student health services on my campus (because I am lucky enough to be uninsured), and got a referral to counseling services on campus. Granted their services are short-term, but I was happy to finally be getting some answers. After two sessions of evaluation with both a clinical counselor and a Psychiatrist. I walked away with an official GAD and recurring depression diagnosis.
Now, there is a lot of negative stigma when it comes to mental health disorders. I too used to think, “Oh, they’re just using that as an excuse to ___.” Let me tell you though, until you have lived in the shoes of a person with a mental health disorder, you have absolutely NO RIGHT to judge or criticize them for what they are going through.
Often times I have to force myself to leave the house because I feel so down and worthless and helpless that I honestly don’t care what happens to me. I have panic attacks. I take medication. I have to journal to get my feelings out. I worry everyday about every little thing. I worry about things that people tell me make no sense because it’s irrelevant. To me my worry is valid though. If I don’t maintain a schedule and a plan and stay organized, I’ll freak out.
I was sitting in the hospital waiting for my mom to finish an appointment and got so anxious about what her diagnosis “could be” that I had a panic attack. Had to wait like an extra 20 minutes to calm down before we could even leave to head home. In my mind I was thinking of the worst possible thing that could happen, and it triggered me.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but living with this is no fun. It’s a struggle everyday for me. I want to live my life avoiding anything that could trigger me, but then what life would I be living? This road is not easy, but it’s the path I was pushed on, so I’m dealing with it. But again, I implore you to think before you assume, judge, or criticize someone who has a diagnosed mental condition.
Peace and Love,