I have suffered from anxiety my entire life never having a clear picture of what caused it. I’ve had anxious tendencies and habits since childhood, conditions that were often stuffed down and criticized. I sucked my thumb until I was thirteen years old. I bit my nails so badly they bled and were deformed. I had common nervous ticks such as bouncing my legs when I sat or pacing around when I stood. I was fearful of making phone calls. I had to have my back to a wall.
I was never treated for my anxiety. In fact, I learned to cope with it so well I’m not sure anyone knew how much it crippled me. Every day that I can remember I’ve had a feeling of dread wash over me at one point or another. I can be alone or with people and suddenly I am worried about the slightest of things.
Hyper analytical, I see 1,000 steps ahead of everything and constantly worry over the details of what’s to come. I have suffered from depression, which I think is a result of this terrible anxiety. I was tense and often irritable. I have always lashed out at those close to me in moments of stress or anxiety, unable to control or understand my emotions.
Over years when I mentioned my anxiety – something I did rarely – it seemed I was lumped in with those suffering from social anxiety, but I loved people! The idea that I feared or avoided social interaction simply wasn’t true. Not exactly. It was rare that I became too nervous around others. As a young child and adolescent, I was hyper-aware of how people saw me, but nothing that I felt made me uncomfortable or overly self-conscious.
This idea that social anxiety was the only kind of anxiety really confused me. I KNEW I had anxiety, but I just couldn’t qualify it in the ways society seemed to expect me to. I knew I was an empath, that I had to work towards being able to shield myself from what others projected, but there was something more going on. Something I couldn’t place.
Recently I heard about GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) for the first time. All it took was for me to hear the words ‘generalized anxiety disorder’ and I knew I had found my answer.
I violently typed the word into Google to see what the internet had to say regarding this issue. It was 100% what I had been experiencing. I could have cried out of happiness that there was something! That I wasn’t cursed to suffer alone, feeling misunderstood.
This is such a new revelation that I haven’t yet pursued treatment but I felt the need to share what I’d found. I answered ‘yes’ to every question found on the many ‘self-tests’ available online. Here’s the Wikipedia description:
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by excessive, uncontrollable and often irrational worry, that is, apprehensive expectation about events or activities. This excessive worry often interferes with daily functioning, as individuals with GAD typically anticipate disaster, and are overly concerned about everyday matters such as health issues, money, death, family problems, friendship problems, interpersonal relationship problems, or work difficulties.
Individuals often exhibit a variety of physical symptoms, including fatigue, fidgeting, headaches, nausea, numbness in hands and feet, muscle tension, muscle aches, difficulty swallowing, excessive stomach acid buildup, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, bouts of breathing difficulty, difficulty concentrating, trembling, twitching, irritability, agitation, sweating, restlessness, insomnia, hot flashes, rashes, and inability to fully control the anxiety (ICD-10).
These symptoms must be consistent and on-going, persisting at least six months, for a formal diagnosis of GAD.In a given year, approximately two percent of American adults and European adults experience GAD. GAD is seen in women twice as much as men. GAD is also common in individuals with a history of substance abuse and a family history of the disorder. Once GAD develops, it may become chronic, but can be managed or eliminated with proper treatment.Standardized rating scales such as GAD-7 can be used to assess the severity of GAD symptoms. GAD is the most common cause of disability in the workplace in the United States.
What baffles me the most is that last line, “GAD is the most common cause of disability in the workplace in the US.” That is CRAZY. How have I not heard of this before?!
Are you or anyone you know dealing with this disorder? Please share your experience’s in the comments if you’re so inclined.