Posts Tagged ‘anxiety disorders’

The conversations in my head

I’ve written about my anxiety disorders before. I wrote Living with anxiety to explain a little bit about each of the three anxiety disorders I am currently diagnosed with. I wrote Social Guilt to express how one little moment can penetrate me. I wrote Why social media is better than Prozac to explain . . . well, why social media is better than Prozac. And I wrote The automatic negative thoughts of social anxiety to share an amazing video from JaneyfromKorea.

Last night I wrote Some melodramatic ramblings . . . or rather, re-wrote some melodramatic ramblings while listening to some music. The purpose was to release those dark thoughts that creep into me, the ones I work so vigorously to control.

I first started taking medication over 10 years ago. I hate taking medication. I hate being dependant on a little pill every morning. I also build up tolerance to medications rather quickly, and I don’t want to just keep taking more and more of those little pills. Then there are the side effects – some I can live with, some are damn near torturous. And all of that leads to me stopping my meds every so many years. I need to try to function without. And it always works . . . for a time. Sometimes I can last a couple of years, sometimes only several months.

I stopped taking my meds 9 months ago and now my time is up. I know that. I know that because the conversations in my head just keep getting louder.

See, I remember conversations . . . word for word. The big, momentous ones and the seemingly insignificant ones.

I remember driving home from the orthodontist with my father when I was 16. We talked about a classmate of mine who was pregnant. He said, “It’s a mistake for any teenager to get pregnant.” I said, “Dad, you and my mom were 18 and 17 when I was born.” He said, “Like I said, it’s a mistake for any teenager to get pregnant.”

I remember when my boyfriend and I first started seeing each other . . . when we were in “friend” stage and he texted me from New York to tell me that it was weird because he thought he missed me. We were never supposed to be serious.

I remember telling friends in elementary school (and middle school . . . and high school) how excited I was that my dad was picking me up for the weekend. I remember the agony of explaining on Monday that he never showed up. I remember my best friend telling me she was tired of hearing about my alcoholic father.

I remember the conversations with strangers at bus stops, acquaintances at various functions, co-workers, friends, enemies . . . I remember the tones in their voices, the expressions their faces, and every word they said. And every word I said. And I analyze them over and over and over again.

Did that sound stupid? Do they think I’m stupid? Are they laughing at me behind my back? They probably can’t wait to get away from me. Why can’t I just shut up? Oh my god, that was such a ridiculous thing to say! Why did I say that? Oh, he definitely thinks I’m dumb now. What did she mean when she said that? They’re only pretending to like me. They probably pity me. I don’t want them to pity me. I didn’t tell them that to make them pity me. It just is what it is. Why does everyone have to say they’re sorry? I hate sorries. Why do I always say I’m sorry? Why can’t I shut up? Some thoughts should just stay in my head. But then they’ll think I’m weird. I am weird. Not the fun weird I want to be. The awkward, socially inept weird. SHUT UP DAYLE!

“I live my life between uncomfortable silence and uncomfortable noise.” – Probably the truest thing I have ever written.

My boyfriend thinks I over share. I do over share. I’ve always over shared. I’m grateful for the blogging world where it’s acceptable to over share. People have told me on a few occasions that they admire how much I share. It’s not admirable. It’s just a more tolerable way for me to deal with my lack of impulse control.

Medication doesn’t extinguish those conversations in my head. It doesn’t eliminate the constant analyzing. But it does quiet them, makes them endurable. And that’s what I need right now.


Living with anxiety

I had my first panic attack when I was 4 years old. I didn’t know that’s what it was until I was 21. I sat in my therapist’s office and explained the events of the day that have left me phobic about having anything around my neck, the day my parents decided to get a divorce, the day I sat in the car while they fought by the creek, the day my winter coat bundled all around me made me feel like I was going to suffocate. I explained to her about these weird things that would happen to me every so often throughout my life. Words would seem to speed up and slow down at the same time. The world just sounded wrong. I would get this strange taste in my mouth that I have never been able to describe. My heart beat quickly and all I would want to do is lock myself away until it all stopped. She nodded her head and very calmly said, “They’re panic attacks”. I wondered why none of the therapists I had seen in the last 13 years had ever told me that.

Mara was an art therapist who worked mostly with young children with post traumatic stress disorder. She was able to pull things out of me that I could never express in therapy before. I was so used to functioning through my anxiety that I became really good at hiding it. Through seemingly juvenile drawings, I was able to release emotions I didn’t even know were there. It was a turning point in my life that I am eternally grateful for.

I am currently diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Let me explain a little bit about what each of those things mean to me.

When not on medication, I am in a constant state of anxiety. I worry about everything. Here’s a very telling example: in 6th grade I used to worry about taking the SATs. It’s not rational worry. You can’t talk me out of it by telling me that it doesn’t make sense. It still keeps me up at night.

Then, on top of that constant over laying anxiety, every so often (at my worst it was several times a day) I’ll get panic attacks. Sometimes they can be explained by stressful events in my life. Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be any explanation at all. These are the worst because I start to feel like I’m forgetting something that I should be worrying about, so I panic even more.

Now, my friends and my family . . . those closest to me . . . were shocked when I told them I had social anxiety disorder. I was that good at hiding it. My aunt always said that I was the one who never cared what people thought of me. I was really, really good at making people think that. Meanwhile, my every move was designed on the thought of what someone else was going to say. And then everything I heard, every look I saw on someone’s face would send a down pour of questions into my head. “Are they talking about me? Did I do something stupid and not realize it? Am I doing something wrong?” And on and on. And then there’s the phone. Oh how I hate the phone. I actually have to work myself up to make a phone call. Work related stuff has never been a problem because there’s a certain expectation of how I’m supposed to perform and I can handle that. Personal calls are an entirely different story. Is the person going to speak clearly? Will I be able to understand them? What if there’s a silence? What am I supposed to say? There are a very few close friends and family members that I enjoy talking to on the phone. I can’t even order a pizza without panicking!

With medication? Oh wow, what a difference! I still get the occasional panic attack and I still hate talking on the phone, but I can walk through my normal day-to-day without fear. It’s as if a fog has been lifted, and I don’t know how I managed to walk through it before. It’s amazing to not have to work so hard just to get through a day. Every so often, I’ll stop taking my medication. I just want to see how I’m able to fare without it. I do pretty well for a couple of months, and then that fog comes rushing back. People can say whatever negative things they want to about pharma-psychology, but I am beyond grateful for my meds! I am able to truly enjoy life. You can’t get any better than that!