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.

alone-man-person-236151.jpg

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.

architecture-carpet-chair-276534

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

 

 

 

 

Why? The first question I owe an answer to.

 

 

Why did I decide to start this blog?

Let me start by saying that I just deleted 1,700 words. This is the second article I write on why I started this blog, but the first one was loaded with emotion and it just gave way too much context.

I feel the need to share what’s in my heart, and on my mind. We’ve all had our ups and downs; some of us, have had stratospheric ups, and center-of-the-earth downs; but, in a way, the principles that will allow us to heal, grow and transcend these unfortunate events are almost universal.

I’m very happy with where I am right now. This doesn’t mean my life is 99.9% perfect, because it never will be; but even with all the problems that I’m facing, I still feel satisfied with the progress and growth I’ve been able to experiment these past few years. I won’t lie to you, it has been a very tough, tormenting and more often then not horrific road to outgrow my complexes and make peace with who I am as an individual, but it has led me to feel responsible for sharing my experience with others who might undergo similar situations.

In the original article, I talked about my parent’s divorce, the economic roller coaster I experienced in my childhood and adolescence, my amazing mother and how she managed to put the weight of the world on her shoulders; and all of this was meant to give you context of all the problems I had to fix in myself. But then I thought about it… I thought: “You know?! Maybe it’d be better if I just start posting articles with the tools that helped me overcome everything! Maybe that will make it easier for people adjust them to their reality”. And so, this article was born.

That doesn’t mean I’m gonna leave you with no clue as to who I was, and what I feel I have achieved. That being said, this is the definition I made of myself (since my late teenage years all up to my late 20’s), for context purposes:

“A great guy overall. Very smart and talented, with a magnetic personality and a successful professional career. Somewhat impulsive, seems to have trouble focusing on activities and seeing things all the way through. Definitely humble and giving, but horrible with money, and quite frankly, a little on the unreliable side; given the fact that his behavior and decisions seem to be erratic and completely impulse driven. For some reason, he always seems to be trying to impress others, and he cares too much of how others see him”.

What I didn’t say in my description, is that all the impulsivity, bad relationship with money and low self-esteem lead me to accumulating well over USD 150k in debt, failing at my marriage and losing myself in general. I was thrown into a very dark place. I later discovered that I had a cocktail of adult ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), along with GAD (Generalized anxiety disorder).

Anxiety has been, by a long shot, my most expensive personality trait. It costed me a lot. All of the sleepless nights wondering on Amazon, looking for my next impulse purchase. The irritability that characterized most of my interactions with my former wife. The constant feeling that everything was going to go south, and that every phone call was a horrible news headed my way, and the horrible feeling that every day was going to be my last. I kid you not, it was horrible.

But blaming anxiety alone would be completely irresponsible. Like I said before, it was a cocktail. Some were disorders, others were personality traits, there were also several difficult events (including the passing of family members) and some were just mere learned behaviors.

Turning everything around was quite the challenge, specially when the starting point was having no acknowledgement that there were any issues whatsoever. It took years of fucking up, over and over and over again. People that I loved were hurt, I lost my marriage and family, my economy went to shit and I completely lost the notion of who I was, and what my purpose was.

It wasn’t until I hit what others usually call “rock bottom”. I just call it “my time”. I was done living in depression, fear, anxiety and sadness. I realized that I had been fucking up ever since I could remember. Life wasn’t going to give me any more chances. There were no other sources of borrowing in the horizon. The bank calls were just going to evolve into lawsuits. I WAS DONE.

And then one feeling took over: love. Let me be more specific: SELF LOVE.

I found a way to pick myself up, and glue all the pieces back together. How did I achieve that? Excellent question!

In the upcoming series of posts, I will talk about the things that had to happen in order for me to change, and to transcend. I hope you enjoy this adventure, and I promise you to invest all of my heart and essence in every post.

   Thank you for giving me the honor of sharing my story with you, and I’ll see you next time!

Love,

Abe.