Wednesday, November 30, 2011

PYHO: Living With GAD

I have GAD.  Well, it depends on the doctor.  Some have said depression + anxiety. One even said possible bipolar.  I have some pretty serious highs and lows.  Some days I think the depression is the worst part of it.  It also comes with some OCD tendencies.  But really, the worst is the anxiety. 

I know many of us suffer from this, but for those of you that don't, I wanted to give you a glimpse into how the anxious brain, at least for me, functions. 

Example: We put up the first of the cool baby gates. Metal with bars and a door that swings open.  Most would look at it and see safety.  I looked at it and saw my cats lying with their heads through the bars with their neck broken.  The image doesn't go away.

Walking down my stairs with the baby is terrifying.  My mom won't do it.  I have no choice.  But what I see every time is me slipping and falling and P's lifeless body under me at the bottom.  I am a klutz.  This is not a stretch.  I need a house without stairs.

While driving I see myself going out of control and smashing headlong into a telephone pole or tree or something, totaling my car, and being seriously injured.  Worse, I see us being t-boned and P being seriously injured or killed. 

And on and get the idea.  I look at normal things and see the worst.  And a panic attack?  Hyperventilation, shaking, what I call "tunnel vision"...rational goes out the window.  The good thing is that years ago I finally saw a doctor.  And last year we figured out what works for me.  Thank goodness.  Stressful jobs do not help, though.  With the meds, though, the things I imagine are able to be pushed away some.  I have a little more control. 

As a bonus, they actually do help with the depression and my excessive empathy, leaving me to watch movies without turning into a blubbering mess over every little joy and sadness.  Seriously, I have been known to cry at cotton commercials.  The downside?  Feeling kind of numb.  Not always being ABLE to cry if I want/need to.  But, being able to handle situations better?  It's worth it.  Most of the time. 

I know from experience that some people don't believe that something like this is a "real" disease.  It is.  And its effects can be devastating.  I missed 6 weeks of work last year when it was out of control.  It is VERY real, very scary, and sometime debilitating.  And when someone suffers, you can recommend things all you want, but in the end, like many things, a person has to want to have help.  It cannot be forced.  So please, be supportive to people in your life suffering from mental health diseases.  Listen when they need it.  Encourage them to seek help of whatever sort works for them.  But understand that sometimes, our reactions, our behaviours are out of our control.

*This is part of Shell's Pour Your Heart Out Wednesdays.  Feel free to join in, but be respectful.


  1. My son has been diagnosed with panic/anxiety disorder, so as a parent, I know now overwhelming anxiety has affected him. It can be devastating and scary, but with meds and therapy, he can control it most days. Good luck to you.

  2. Happy for you that you found something that helps!

  3. I know all too well about this. It was worse for me after my 2nd set of twins were born. I had never experienced panic attacks until then and they are extremely scary and very unnerving.

    I'm glad you have found medication that helps you deal with your anxiety. It's a scary place to be.

  4. I'm fairly sure my husband suffers from this as well. I've never quite been able to tell if it was depression or anxiety or depression AND anxiety and, if so, what kind. But having read the symptoms and the way your brain functions, I'd guess it's this. General Anxiety Disorder. He also looks at every day things in life and sees the worst. Sometimes it's even as if he thinks the whole world is out to get him. And along with that comes the depression, the extreme highs and lows, and the OCD.

    And I'll be honest - it has taken a toll on our marriage. Even though I also suffer from a form of depression (dysthymia), I find it hard to be patient and empathetic with what seems like his "Eyore" personality and over-the-top worries and anxieties.

    The good news is that he's ready to admit there IS a problem - something he's always ignore or, worse, denied in the past. And he says he wants to get better and his willing to explore medication (provided it's done the right way with a certified practitioner and not just used as a "quick fix," as antidepressants often are). And we see a counselor who also seems to be helping him realize his brain functions differently and he doesn't have to live this way.

    But it's still hard. I feel for you. And him. Thank you for writing this.

  5. I know how you feel. Sometimes I just want to turn my brain off. The worst is when I need to sleep and I just can't stop going through awful scenarios.

  6. Sometimes I feel that way too, there have been many nights where I haven't slept because I fear someone coming into my house and me not knowing it, I have an escape plan. It's an awful awful feeling. So sorry you have to deal with it daily, glad you have found something that helps you!


  7. I know those feelings, too, and have also been diagnosed with GAD. I just can't turn my brain off. I imagine disasters at every turn. When I look back, now, I can picture things I thought when I was a kid that were probably already signs but it took until I was I was about 24 before I finally sought help for it. It is real and it is hard and it can take a while to come to terms that you really need help. I'm so glad you've found what works for you.

  8. Amen. While I do not suffer panic attacks often, the car accident and falling down the stairs sceanrio describe me to a tee.


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