On Anxiety

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I’ve always considered myself to be a worrier. I’ve even been teased by my friends about it before. I thought it was just something I inherited from my family, some of whom are also worriers. I thought maybe it was just a side effect of my disability…that I got worried or nervous about certain situations because of my MD and lack of physical strength.

It was only very recently, as I started talking to a friend and reading some articles about anxiety, that I realized that what I have is so much more than just simple worry. I actually suffer from anxiety. I thought if I used that label or applied it to myself that people would say I was being over-dramatic or over-exaggerating. That I did just worry too much and that it was something I could fix. I think in some ways, I didn’t want to admit that maybe I had another issue besides my MD that I need to deal with too. Cause really, the MD on its own is plenty.

But the more I read other people’s stories and experiences, I realized that the heart racing, sweating, getting frozen while the world is spinning, feeling like I’m going to pass out, physical response I have to certain situations is in fact, anxiety. It’s not just a “oh crap, what did I do?” or “oh crap, what’s going to happen?” that just goes away. It’s a full body panic, no matter how calm I might appear on the outside. My brain just doesn’t think rationally sometimes and it’s something that I am just not able to turn off (but trust me, I wish I could more than anything). It leads to my not being able to sleep sometimes because I’m freaking out about things that happened that day or what might happen as a result. I go from Point A to Point Z, imagining that one screw up is going to lead to the worst possible scenario. A mistake means I’m a total failure and everyone hates me. It’s completely irrational and I know it’s completely irrational, but I have zero control over it in the moment.

I have no doubt my anxiety stems partially from my disability. I’ve had to go through life never knowing if I’m going to fall one day and not be able to get up. To not know what my body is going to be like when I’m 60 years old. To have to be terrified of the unknown because I could potentially hurt myself or get myself into a bad situation (all of which have happened). It’s been so much more than worry or even fear all of these years and I never realized it. Even my fear of failure isn’t just a fear that I can face and move on from. It’s deep-seated anxiety.

Sometimes I think we try to label ourselves and others too much but I have to say, in this case, knowing that what I feel on a fairly frequent basis has a name and a reason beyond my inability to control my own mind and feelings, felt like a giant weight had been lifted off of me. Finally coming to terms with the fact that I have anxiety doesn’t mean I’m going to stop having it or even mean it’s going to get better. But it does mean that when it happens now, I don’t have to beat myself up and yell at my brain and my body to get it to try stop doing what it’s doing, because it’s so much more far-reaching than that. I can sit, take a moment and take some deep breaths and that definitely helps but from what I’ve experienced, I really just have to ride it out. It helps to text friends or call someone cause they can help offer a perspective that my brain either isn’t capable of coming up with or isn’t capable of believing, even if I come up with it. Either way, I’m just relieved to know that I’m not doing anything wrong for not being able to stop my body and mind from reacting to things in a certain way.

This is one of the great articles I read about anxiety. I related to almost every single one of them. Just like with having a disability, if you suffer from anxiety also, know you are far from being alone and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you.

photo credit: kevin dooley Anxiety via photopin (license)

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