I stumbled across Anxiety Zone a few months ago and it was such a helpful tool for me to read about other peoples' success stories with GAD, and I vowed that if/when I ever had success, I would give back to all of you who have greatly helped me understand and normalize my struggles by reading about all of you brave and strong men and women who have suffered and struggled with GAD, as I did. This is my story:
I have had anxiety my whole life. I am 24 now and for a far back as I can remember, I have had anxiety attacks. No one knew. I shared it with no one other than my Grandmother, who was a retired social worker, and even then, I shared a very minimal amount of information about what I was going through. From the age of 6 until more recently, I was able to distract myself when I would feel an anxiety attack coming along. I would watch the Family Channel or a sitcom to help me calm down when I felt like I was going crazy, or dying. So it was manageable.
Until November 13, 2012.
I can remember the date so well because it was the worst anxiety attack I had ever experienced in my ENTIRE LIFE. I sat up in bed that morning and was trembling like no other, sweating, my mind was racing... All I was thinking was that I was going to LOSE MY MIND AND 0473. Or end up in an institution. Whichever happened first!
I really thought it was over for me.
I eventually calmed down but from that day on, NOTHING was the same again.
I left school, I didn't really want to leave my house, I was constantly worried and scared..no TERRIFIED, every single day. And the worst part about the whole thing, was that, my birthday was in 4 days. I was afraid to have a party, I was afraid my friends would know that I am acting differently, I was afraid I was going to lose it and that everyone would leave my house party thinking, "wow, Nicole is crazy and she is not the girl we thought she was". All I could do was doubt myself, everyday of every week. I really thought that if I was anywhere by myself or without my boyfriend, that I would harm myself or someone else. So you can imagine the angst I was experiencing!!
Anyway, I made a conscious decision to get help and open up about my suffering. I told my boyfriend everything that I was going through. I told my parents and my grandparents, and eventually even my best friend. I saw a psychologist for a few weeks, and that helped a lot. He helped me get to the root of my anxiety which was abandonment, fear of failure and alienation from my peers and loved ones. But I was still experiencing a severe amount of derealization and depersonalization which are probably the worst symptoms of GAD or any anxiety. It made me lazy, unmotivated, lethargic, and grumpy; closed off from everyone.
So I know you're probably wondering where in this I found success. Well here it is and please, Please, PLEASE, I urge anyone who is currently struggling with GAD to take these tips into consideration:
1. Like I said, I saw my doctor who referred me to a Psychiatrist. While I was waiting ( a month and a half) for my appointment, I saw I Psychologist to help counsel me with my anxiety, and give me support and guidance on how to manage my day, dealing with Anxiety.
2. I told all the important people in my life about my anxiety and got their FULL support. Always letting the people that care about you know what's going on with you is so great because they understand you more, and they can keep tabs on you, help you rationalize your distorted thinking, and make sure we're not getting too down on ourselves and digging ourselves into a deeper whole.
3. NEVER NEVER deny medication if you have tried EVERYTHING else. I tried a psychologist first, and reading a LOT, but it didn't help as much as I needed to get my life back. There is no reason to suffer so much all because you don't want to take anti-anxiety medication. (On a sidenote: do NOT let your family doctor prescribe any medications to you. Only a Psychiatrist can know what is best to prescribe you in your individual situation.) My Psychiatrist prescribed me CIPRALEX (Escitalopram). It is probably the best choice I have ever made in order to get back to myself again. I was stubborn too and didn't want to take ANY medication. But it is honestly just like anything else. If you have a headache, you take Tylenol or Advil. If you have an infection due to a cold, you take Antibiotics. If you have diabetes, you take Insulin. It is EXACTLY THE SAME. Do not be ashamed to take medication that will change your life!
I have been taking Cipralex for about two weeks now. I had a slight headache and felt a bit drowsy the first two days and I have been completely fine ever since. Taking medication has honestly brought out the ME in ME. The stranger that I have not been familiar with for the past few months, is ancient history now. I, of course, have to read books and self-treat myself to improve my thought process, but the medication has enabled me to think RATIONALLY. Help is only any good, if you are in a clear state of mind. All that anxiety fog doesn't help because while you are getting treatment, you are too busy doubting its effectiveness.
All anxiety is , is FEAR. Fear of the unknown. Every time I still get a little bit of anxiety, I just tell myself that. It is so much easier to deal with now. This medication doesn't make me feel off or different. I didn't experience ANY of the long list of side effects, and I only take HALF a tablet!! I refuse to go up in the dosage because I like being in a position where I still doubt things a little bit and I can work on that myself. It will also be easier to come off of when the time is right.
MINDFULNESS is the most important tool for people with GAD. Practice living in the PRESENT. IF you think about the past, you have to think about it ONLY while recognizing that it is , in fact, the past and do not let it affect the present. Do not think about the future unless it is goal oriented. Think about it this way, if you live for RIGHT NOW and live as best you can for RIGHT NOW, your future can only be bright because everyday you are working on yourself, and improving yourself.
I AM PROUD TO SAY THAT I HAVE CONQUERED MY ANXIETY ATTACKS AND AM HAPPILY WORKING EVERYDAY TO IMPROVE MYSELF AND LIVE A NORMAL LIFE. MY RELATIONSHIP IS AMAZING AND MY FRIENDSHIPS ARE AMAZING. I AM NO LONGER LIVING IN FEAR OF EVVVERYTHING!!! And honestly it feels amazing.
A great book to read is "FEAR" by Thich Hnat Hanh. Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm. It is an amazing and spiritual book. So insightful gives you an unparalleled amount of tips that have helped me like NO OTHER. After reading even just the first chapter, you start to feel more Zen, open-minded, mindful of destructive emotions. He teaches you how to practice Mindfulness and meditation.
I really, REALLY, want to thank you for reading my post, in advance. Even if I was able to give even ONE person hope, I have done my part. I also want to thank all of you who have helped me get through my storm and I really wish you all the best in your recovery and congratulations to my fellow Anxiety Free members!!!!