The first part in this series was mostly about my childhood/teenage anxiety years. I realized that I left out one very important part that from my childhood. When I was maybe 6 or 7 years old, I am not sure of my age but I remember this well, there was a thunderstorm during the night and it woke me up. Of course I was freaked out but I remember praying for God to help me not be afraid. A peace passed over me that was amazing and I was able to watch the thunderstorm out my bedroom window without fear. I was not raised in a Christian home and we didn’t attend church so I’m not really even sure how I knew to pray to God and ask that, but I did. I blogged about this same thing a few years ago and my aunt remembered me telling her this same story as a child so I know this is real and isn’t something you think happened as a child but really didn’t.
On my wedding day one of my biggest fears is that I would pass out in front of the church. Thankfully that didn’t happen but I don’t really remember much about the ceremony. In fact, our friends were married a few months before us and all I could do was worry I would pass out while standing up there in front of everyone.
That same summer of our wedding, my husband’s brother and his fiance were married. I was a reader for the wedding and I did not want to do the reading, I was so freaked out. I did it, sort of, because as I was trying to read scripture and having a panic attack at the same time, people could barely hear me reading. Not my best moment. A few years later our good friends were getting married and both my husband and I were standing up in the wedding. Of course after my whole reading in front of the church episode from the last wedding, I was worried that I would have another panic attack during the ceremony. So of course, panic attacks go hand in hand with the cycle of worrying. I worried about having a panic attack which in turned caused me to have the panic attack. I had to get off the stage in the middle of the ceremony because I thought I was going to pass out. How embarrassing that was. It makes me feel yucky just typing it and the worst part is, I didn’t want to distract from their wedding day, I just wanted to quietly slip off the stage and run away.
A few months after our wedding, my awesomely smart husband graduated from college and we packed up our life and moved four and a half hours away from our friends and family. I was very excited to move, I had lived in the same town and the same house for the first 18 years of my life. I think I have a bit of wanderlust in me as I always wanted and hoped we would move when I was child but it never happened.
The hubs and I moved to a small town for his job ready to begin our life together. The first day hubby went to work he drove our only vehicle. He didn’t have a cell phone or a work phone and told me he’d be home at 5pm. When 6:30 rolled around and he still wasn’t home I started to get panicky. I was stuck in a town where I literally knew no one and was without a vehicle. I had no way to contact my husband to find out where he was. I finally went to the other side of the duplex and asked if they could possibly give me a ride up to my husband’s work. Right as we were about to head out my husband pulled into our driveway. This might have been the start of my intense anxiety time because a few months later I was in full fledged panic mode most of the time.
A few months after we had moved and settled in, I landed a job at a law office answering the phones and helping out with filing, etc. The job was fine but one of the secretary’s there was a mean old biddy. She always had some snide comments for me and I was starting to hate my job. One day after a really bad day at work I remember driving to our rental which was about 10 to 15 minutes away. All of a sudden I was dizzy, I was seeing spots, my hands and feet were numb and tingling, I felt like I couldn’t breathe, I was freaking out, what was wrong with me? I called my hubby from the cell phone, turned the vehicle around and drove back to his work. Not really sure how we resolved that day but from then on, I hated driving, I was freaked out it was going to happen again. Pretty soon I was holed up in the house all the time, I quit my job, I didn’t go anywhere without my husband, I stayed in our bedroom most of the day with the phone in bed with me. I wouldn’t go into stores by myself, I was quickly being overcome with anxiety. Finally I ended up taking a test on National Health Day and being diagnosed with GAD or Generalized Anxiety Disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health GAD is described as follows:
All of us worry about things like health, money, or family problems. But people with GAD are extremely worried about these and many other things, even when there is little or no reason to worry about them. They are very anxious about just getting through the day. They think things will always go badly. At times, worrying keeps people with GAD from doing everyday tasks.
GAD develops slowly. It often starts during the teen years or young adulthood. Symptoms may get better or worse at different times, and often are worse during times of stress.
People with GAD may visit a doctor many times before they find out they have this disorder. They ask their doctors to help them with headaches or trouble falling asleep, which can be symptoms of GAD but they don’t always get the help they need right away. It may take doctors some time to be sure that a person has GAD instead of something else.
This is me, I worry things will go badly most of the time. I call it “waiting for the other shoe to drop.” Just ask my husband. I will share with you just a glimpse of what this is like for me. This is so hard for me to do but I’m doing it because maybe it will help someone else out there. This summer we are taking a family vacation to Atlanta Georgia for a few days and then heading on to Florida. We are driving because I would never fly and plus we made a deal with our kids that we would visit all 48 states before they all graduated. So this is the first big trip in a series of trips we have planned over the next few years. Here is what I am already thinking/worrying about:
I am sure that we are going to all die in a car crash while driving to Haven in Atlanta this summer and it will be my fault because I won the ticket to Haven and we wouldn’t be going if I hadn’t won the ticket. Yes, I am already worrying about that. I also worry that while I am at the conference hubby will be out with the kids and get in a bad accident and I”ll get the call during the conference in front of all the bloggers. Or maybe we are going to run into bad weather or tornadoes during the drive down and we will be staying in a hotel and there will not be a basement to hide in. I will need to know how far the nearest hospital is on the drive down, no matter where we are on the road.
This is just a glimpse into my brain, scary, right? So I hope you won’t all hit the unfollow button after reading this article, writing this series has been extremely challenging for me but it’s also been really good. I can see by typing this out just how much anxiety has a control on my life and I don’t want it too! My eyes are being opened to many things regarding myself the past two weeks and I’m hoping to start taking care of business and getting on the road to a better mental state of mind, one with less worry and “what-ifs.”
There is one more post in this series so if I haven’t scared you off yet, be on the lookout for part 3!