My trifecta of anxiety disorders

I’ve written about my anxiety before, but the anxiety I have today is not the same as the anxiety I had 5 years ago . . . or 2 years ago . . . or even 6 months ago. The way it affects me is constantly changing, sometimes by the day. What never changes is the fact that it does affect me. Every. Single. Day.

A little over five years ago, the panic disorder was at its worst. I had two nervous breakdowns a couple of weeks apart. My ex-husband thought about admitting me to a hospital. I went catatonic. I couldn’t speak. I screamed inside my head, but my brain could not make the connection to my mouth. I almost felt drugged. Like the world was hazy and I was just floating through the fog.

I snapped out of whatever that was but proceeded to have 4 or 5 panic attacks a day. Some of them lasted for an hour or more. I remember facing the hair care aisle at work. I was vaguely aware of the music over the loudspeaker. My hands were shaking so hard I could barely pull the bottles of hair spray to the front of the shelf. My heart felt like it was going to come out of my chest. I had to remind myself to breath.

Lorezepam and later Prozac helped quell the panic attacks. I moved on.

A few years ago, the general anxiety took the lead in my trifecta of anxiety disorders. To be fair, GAD has taken that lead through most parts of my life. It’s that gnawing in the back of my head that tells me everything I do is not good enough. It tells me that nothing I ever do will be good enough. It tells me not to sleep because I have whole lists of things to do and they have to be perfect or I won’t be good enough.

My GAD is not about being stressed over a big exam or a job interview or public speaking or the end of the month bills. It’s about feeling anxious every moment of every day because nothing’s right. It’s about a lack of trust in other people because everything needs to get done a certain way and I’m the only one who knows how to do it. It’s about questioning every compliment, every word of praise because I feel like the world’s best bullshit artist and I’m just waiting for everyone else to realize what an immense failure I am.

Then I went back on Prozac. And I felt better and I moved on. That’s not to say the anxiety went away. It lessened it to a manageable amount. It made it so I could see it and understand it and work through it. It’s like walking in the rain. The meds were my umbrella. Sometimes the rain still came sideways and I’d get wet. Or it would be really heavy and my legs and feet would still get soaked. But I still stayed dryer than I would have without the umbrella.

Recently (and by recently, I mean the past year), my social anxiety has taken the front seat. I’m not currently on medication. I’ve known for a while that I need to go back on meds (though not Prozac – the side effects became way too much, but that’s another post all by itself), but going back on meds requires a phone call to the doctor. It requires two bus rides there and two bus rides back. It requires me to be able to meet a new shrink and talk to her about how fucked up in the head I feel. And all of those things are social things that cause me the most ridiculous and illogical but completely heart-pounding fear.

I think the social anxiety disorder is worse than the general anxiety disorder and the panic disorder (though it’s quite possible I’d change my mind about that if one of the others were in the driver’s seat right now). There are so many things I want to do, places I want to go, activities I want to be involved in, organizations I want to volunteer for . . . but it’s always a battle. The prospect of having to interact with other people is so daunting that I end up hibernating in my house as much as humanly possible.

It’s easier with my daughter. It’s easier to leave the house when it’s for her or with her because I never want my mental disorders to affect her. I’m also painfully co-dependent (but I think it works out for the best here). When I only have to worry about myself, it’s not worth the effort. So I stay home.

When the social anxiety is under control, I have an easier time seeking help for the general anxiety and the panic. I can take a deep breath and make that phone call. It’s amazing how such seemingly simple tasks can become so fucking difficult.

It’s not that any of my anxiety disorders go away. It’s not like I have one at a time while the other two go on vacation. They’re all always there, always affecting me. It’s just that sometimes one affects me a bit more than the others. It’s an exhausting race to watch because the only one who loses is me.

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10 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Ginny on October 20, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    Your umbrella analogy is perfect. You are in my thoughts and prayers, Dayle. Having had a few panic attacks, I can only imagine a little of what you are dealing with, but I do know that writing about it helps. Let me know if I can help in any way. Love you (even though we’ve never met, I do–funny how these blogging relationships work :)! (and Yay for losing weight,too, by the way!)

    Reply

    • Thank you, Ginny!

      {Smile} I think in a lot of ways getting to know someone through the blogging world can actually form tighter bonds than getting to know someone in the ‘real world’ because we are so raw and honest here 🙂 Love you too!

      Reply

  2. Posted by Karen on October 20, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    Dayle, I wish you could see who I see, and you are in good company, some of the best of us have had nervous breakdowns, my dear friend, Marie Curie had three, all brilliant people do you know – besos. Karen

    Reply

  3. I also felt your umbrella analogy was exactly right, and I can relate. Anxiety is a difficult passenger because sometimes it really does become the driver, and I have felt before that I am constantly fighting for control of the wheel. But even when I’m the one driving, it’s still sitting in the passenger seat, being annoying. 🙂 I pray for you as well, and I hope you are able to find some peace. I know going to the doctor is overwhelming, but it may be a good start. Or maybe try to find a therapist who is closer, one who can also prescribe? Good luck Dayle!! xoxox

    Reply

    • Thank you, Jen!

      I still haven’t made it to the doc, but I’ve been getting out more . . . which is terrifying, but helps!

      Unfortunately, I don’t have many options for therapists since I don’t have health insurance. I go to a clinic that charges on a sliding scale, but the mental health department is spread ridiculously thing. I tried to get the regular doc to prescribe me lorezepam the last time I went, but she wanted me to talk to the shrink . . . after 2 hours of waiting, I gave up and left :/

      I’ll get there . . . I’m hoping to have health insurance soon, which will make a huge difference!

      Way off topic, but hope you, Alex, and lil’ Anna are doing wonderfully ❤

      Reply

  4. Hugs, Dayle!
    I hope you can help others by writing about your issues. I think this would be very helpful to others who are suffering from what you are.

    And I hope that you can get to a point, soon, where you feel like you are winning, a little more, anyway, than you do now. I can definitely relate to the social anxiety. Having to call the dr., get to know a new dr., etc… I can so relate to procrastinating just because of the anxiety in that event alone. But I hope writing this makes you realize that you need to do it NOW! You are a jewel, Dayle, meant to shine and you need to do everything you can to quiet all this anxiety. Good luck & more hugs to you!

    Reply

    • {Hugs} back and thank you!

      Writing does help me realize it . . . so I think I start to avoid writing 😛 I love my crazy! But I have been making progress . . . . not enough to get to the doc yet, but it’s progress nonetheless 🙂

      I have some new-found free time, so I’m going to work on using it to push through my crap and just go!

      More hugs to you too! I hope you’re doing well!

      Reply

  5. Posted by Karen on November 27, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Everyone needs health insurance, and it should cover everything, hearing aids, glasses, dental and mental health as well as physical health. My goal for the US is for every person to have access to what they need.

    Reply

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