Hello all, sorry for the long first post, but please bear with me.
About 6 months ago I was diagnosed with GAD, and according to my family they are surprised it didn't happen sooner. Here is where my story starts.
3 1/2 years ago (seems like a lifetime) I was a confident 21 year old man who was rising quickly through my field of study (Automotive and Diesel). I worked very hard to achieve what I had all through Highschool, earning many awards, certificates and even a State Championship. I lived a fairly active lifestyle, enjoying camping, ATV riding and just in general the great outdoors. Everything was going great, good job, passion for my work, great family and a wonderful girlfriend. Was there stress? Absolutely! But it never bothered me, I always just looked at everything as another challenge to overcome.
Inevitably my active lifestyle caught up with me, while at work I pushed my body too hard and severely injured my shoulder. At first the typical conservative treatment plan was keeping the pain in a manageable state, but I was not progressing back into my usual strong physical self. Authorization for additional treatment was very slow going and a nightmare within itself, but I persevered and pressed on in my typical fashion.
Even during my injury I was advancing myself in my career, no longer able to perform physical work, I moved into management. Starting out as a Shop Foreman, moving up into a Assistant Manager role and eventually I had my own store to manage. While the injury was a setback, I was still able to be involved in what I loved and learn new skills.
As with all things in life, changes occur. I was laid off about 1 1/2 years ago. That really hit me hard but I persevered. 9 months after my lay-off I finally am scheduled for shoulder surgery. Now, I knew for awhile that surgery was required, just receiving authorization was very slow going. I have always had issues with needles and other such nonsense, so the thought of surgery wasn't exactly my favorite thing to think about. It was always more than just a irrational fear, I would generally suffer from Vasovagal syncopes whenever needles are involved. For those unfamiliar with VasoVagal reactions, it isn't exactly pleasant. The combination of vomiting, ringing in the ears and eventually "Graying" out and falling to the floor while still being fully aware but helpless is not a enjoyable experience. But through the combination of excellent nurses and excellent calming drugs, everything went well.
Physical therapy starts a little bit after surgery, and I begin progressing and getting better! A few months go by and the progress stops. A visit to my doctor and a consult with another doctor reveals a possible missed injury in my shoulder. How you miss something after seeing everything inside my shoulder during surgery, I cannot fathom how something could be missed! Are we kidding here?!?! But the logical part of brain kicks in, yelling and screaming isn't going to fix anything, the situation is what it is. My doctor puts in for additional surgery, and wants me to continue my physical therapy for pain management.
Somewhere before I find out I need additional surgery, I am helping my girlfriend with her mom's doctors appointments. She is suffering from Auto-Immune Cirrhosis, and we are still awaiting a liver. While traveling in the car to the doctor, she begins talking about her liver and the procedure she will eventually go through. Remember that VasoVagal thing I was talking about? Well it started happening to me at that moment. Any other time, it would have been a simple remedy of excusing myself, and taking a few minutes of fresh air and everything would stop. But not now, I am trapped in my car doing 60-70mph down the freeway with my eventual mother-in-law while she is triggering something that will cause me to "Gray-Out" and lose control of the vehicle. I guess what happened next was my Fight-or-Flight mechanism, my general calm and welcoming demeanor disappeared. I yelled at my future mother-in-law "If you don't shutup right now, I will pass out and we will crash into whatever is in my way".
But she didn't understand what I was yelling about, and started asking questions about what about her procedure was bothering me. Obviously in fear for both our lives at this point I continue to yell "Shut up, Shut up, Shut up! If you don't shut up we are both going to die!" Finally she stops. I begin deep breathing and eventually regain my composure, and all is well, or so I thought. After getting her dropped off I went back home with some symptoms still lingering. Lightheaded and mild nausea and irrational fear of going back to pick her up. I would have given anything to not have to go pick her up, not out of anger or anything, just this deep feeling fear. But I "Cowboy'd Up" and did what needed to be done. I got her picked up, and albeit some minor car trouble that required a tow truck and calling in a ride for her as we are on the side of the freeway, all is well.
For about 2 weeks, I felt what I can only describe as being fuzzy. I was having constant heartburn and lightheadedness. Also my VasoVagal triggers became super sensitive, people couldn't even talk about a hospital without me feeling I was going to have a episode. Finally everything came crashing down. I was at a physical therapy appointment and attempted to make small talk with a patient next to me. She started talking about her knee and the surgery she had done and that was it. Something hit me like a ton of bricks, I wanted to vomit, my heart took off I didn't know what was happening. I somehow drove home and just hated life for awhile.
Now here I am about 6 months later. My doctor tried me on SSRI's but I suffered from "crawling" sensations up my spine so those are a no go for me. Right now I am 8 sessions into therapy and I am on day 2 of beta blockers to control my heart rate. I'm not sure if I actually have GAD or some form of a Phobia but I am getting better. I am taking each day at a time, and trying to put my life back in order. I hope I can offer as much support as I am sure you all will offer me. Thank you for taking the time to read my story.