If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know that I think that anxiety is the single most stupid thing I have ever had to deal with in my life. If you haven’t read any of my other posts, then let me tell you… I think that anxiety is the single most stupid thing I have ever had to deal with in my life!!!!
However, anxiety is not defined as “stupid”; it’s actually defined as:
anx·i·e·ty / aNGˈzīəde noun
- a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Similar: worry, concern, apprehension, apprehensiveness, consternation
This is your typical “I’m a little anxious to get the test results.” “I’m worried about how I’m going to be able to pay this bill.” “I have a huge presentation at work and I’m nervous!” type of anxiety. Almost every human, ever, has experienced this type of anxiety at some point in their life. This what most people tend to think when I say that I have anxiety. Perhaps, that fault lies with me and I need to be more specific. I say that, to say this:
There are also various Anxiety Disorders. There are a total of about six different ones; I have three of them. According to the Mayo Clinic anxiety disorders are (especially note the parts in italics):
“Experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. However, people with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Often, anxiety disorders involve repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks).
These feelings of anxiety and panic interfere with daily activities, are difficult to control, are out of proportion to the actual danger and can last a long time. You may avoid places or situations to prevent these feelings. Symptoms may start during childhood or the teen years and continue into adulthood.
Examples of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder (social phobia), specific phobias and separation anxiety disorder. You can have more than one anxiety disorder. Sometimes anxiety results from a medical condition that needs treatment.
I was first diagnosed with an anxiety disorder when I was four years old. Anxiety?! At FOUR years old?!? Yep. I bet you’re wondering “What the heck is a FOUR. YEAR. OLD. anxious about?” Well, generally speaking, a four year old would have nothing to be anxious about. Some four year olds, though, have had a rough go of it from the start; traumatic births, health problems, surgeries, etc. Some four year olds have already had more than one divorce in their parents’ lives, and some times, both of those marriages were abusive anyway. By the time I was four and WELL before I had a clue what the word “anxiety” means, it had started affecting me by manifesting itself in the form of physical symptoms. I had severe digestive/tummy issues and my hair had started to fall out by the handful.
The time that I reached middle school (and started puberty) is when a couple of the men in my life chose to do what they did to me. (I am choosing to leave out the names and some of the details…for now, as I am truly still finding my healing.) The two people were both sexually abusing me, on a regular basis, with neither of them knowing about the other. One was a little heavier on the mind games/mental aspect of abuse than the other; in fact as I grew older, learned more, and looked back on those events, I was being “groomed” for much worse by one and the “worst” was already happening with the other. The thing that did the most damage, though, was being told that I was not acceptable how I was and that I needed to be “stripped down to nothing and built back the way that he wanted me.” What he meant by that was, “I want to control you so you will do whatever I say and I want to scare you, so you will never tell anyone.” Ya’ll this is just my life up until middle school, and this is just the MOST MAJOR stuff that happened, (not everything) and suddenly the question of “Why do I have anxiety?” has an answer.
I have struggled my entire life with feeling like the real, true me, was not good enough. I often feel as though my whole life, thus far, has been me acting; trying to act in a way/ways that would make me “acceptable” and truly loved. Now that I am in my mid-30’s, I feel as though I am starting to grow into what, and who, God created me to be. I am discovering who I really am and not just what someone else wanted to create, what I really love, what I really can’t stand, the types of friends I want to have in my life and the kind of friend I want to be in return. Having reached the point where “just managing” the symptoms of anxiety, but mostly pretending that everything is “fine” is just not working any more; other strategies have had to be put in place. Brian and I decided that I would try the medication route again and I’ve decided that I’m not going to let anyone else’s opinion about how I care for my own well-being, contribute to my anxiety. I just am one of those people that needs medication to keep me on a level playing field. Therapy has been absolutely invaluable; as it is teaching me strategies to fight the anxiety and not just lay down and let it take my life. I have to “do the work” and find my healing or its going to kill me.
It has been thirty two years since I first showed symptoms of anxiety. It has been twenty four years since the abuse I endured stopped and the people involved faced their consequences. Still, even now, as an adult, I still frequently deal with my body exhibiting physical symptoms, whether or not I am experiencing any mental or emotional symptoms at that time. Almost daily I experience nausea, rapid heart rate, difficulty catching my breath, upset stomach, sweating, muscle cramps/spasms, tingling, difficulty sleeping/staying asleep. Now, most days I don’t experience ALL of those things, but I do experience most of them to some degree or another.
I hope that this has given you a little bit of insight into anxiety, and especially the difference between the anxiety/anxiousness that most people feel and the severe anxiety disorders that so many suffer from. Thanks to the support system that has rallied around me, from my husband and kids to my doctors, my therapist and my Camp Gladiator workout family, I am doing better now than I have in many, many years. It is possible. Hang in there.
I would now like to leave you with one of my favorite pictures from the social interwebs…
What have your experiences been with anxiety? Do you struggle with it or do you know someone who does? Let’s talk in the comments. Be sure to “like” and “subscribe” to get my posts sent right to your inbox!