Anxiety. Being a prisoner of your own mind.

It all started in the kitchen.

As I opened the fridge to reach for the grapes, or opened the cabinet looking for the coffee, my wife would come over in her plush, warm, fuzzy slippers (Oh, and ninja level silent), and make any random comment, or continued a conversation we had started earlier in the bedroom. If I have ever been close to experience what astral projection fans describe as an OBE or “Out-of-Body Experience”, it was exactly in those moments. I literally felt like she had just scared my soul out of my body. My heart started pounding as if I had just been chased for a couple of blocks by a rabid pit-bull, my palms started sweating, I couldn’t breathe, and somehow, I felt as if I was going to die.

The first few times, I was so in shock that I just waited until I could catch my breath, and explained the phenomenon to her. But as time went by, these events kept getting worse and worse. It got to a point where I established a “no sneaking up” rule for everyone around me. It was a horrible feeling. I’m sure it was very tough on her, as my reactions kept getting worse; to the point where I would immediately get furious and blame her for not being careful enough.

More symptoms developed with time. One of the worst ones was walking or driving around town, and having a very intense feeling that there was a sniper in one of the buildings around me, using his right thumb to slowly squeeze the trigger on his rifle, as he looked down the scope at the + pointed at my head. I cannot begin to explain what a horrifying feeling that was. At that point, I was afraid to tell others how I was feeling, because I was embarrassed that they thought I had lost my mind.

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Then the “phone call” situation started. Let me see if I can explain what I thought it meant, every time someone called and I saw their name on the screen:

PERSON CALLING MY IMMEDIATE THOUGHT
Wife Something happened to my daughter
Boss I’m getting fired
Mom A relative passed away
Employee One of my clients is furious, ergo, I’m getting fired
Dad A relative on his side passed away

This happened EVERY SINGLE TIME my phone rang. It was the whole package; the heart pounding, the sweat, everything! I just couldn’t take it anymore.

There is no doubt on my mind, that had I not acknowledged that I had a problem, and agreed to get help to work on it; I would’ve never been able to recover. So I decided to do something about it. Under other circumstances, I would’ve fought my way out of seeing a therapist, but I just knew I didn’t have much time before this turned into a bigger nightmare than what it already was.

During the very first visit, my therapist was able to identify the symptoms, but obviously he needed to run some tests first. After filling 7 questionnaires and god knows how many forms, I was finally “Enlightened”. The name of my foe was finally revealed.

His name was: “G A D”, which stands for “Generalized Anxiety Disorder”.

So, what is this GAD and what does it do to you (Wikipedia)?

   “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.”

So, why did I end up with GAD?

Although it still hasn’t been confirmed, it is believed that family background could be a cause (maybe this is a good time to tell you that my brother and mother have both dealt with anxiety problems). It is believed that stressful life experiences could also lead to GAD. Once I learned that, I was able to put the pieces together. Although I cannot confirm the exact reason, my best guess is that I was genetically prone to anxiety, and after I was involved in a terrible car accident (thankfully, nobody was seriously hurt), the symptoms slowly started to appear.

What characterizes GAD?

  • Constantly being worried, beyond your control
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • High levels of irritability
  • Sense of danger, panic or doom
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Increased heart rate
  • Gastro-intestinal problems
  • Hard time concentrating

 

There are different treatments for GAD, but the most common includes drugs known as SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). These are usually used to deal with anxiety disorders, as well as some cases of depression.

Therapy is super important! Seeking professional help allowed me to understand my problem, it gave me great techniques to use, and It helped me re-gain control of my thoughts and my life.

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GAD affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the US population, any given year. It is more common than we think, so the best we can do is understand that this could happen to any of us, without us having done anything to trigger it; if we can relate to any of the symptoms mentioned above, immediately seek professional help.

Please leave your comments, and thanks for joining me again!

Love,

Abe.

 

 

References (Click on links):

Anxiety and Depression Association of America Website

Wikipedia on GAD

Wikipedia on SSRIs

 

 

 

 

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