Saturday, May 19, 2012


Most people that know me know that I'm an anxious person. Or maybe they don't. If they don't then most probably don't know me. I believe it's even written somewhere over on the right that I'm "anxiety ridden" and I've often half jokingly described myself as neurotic, although in reality, it really isn't much of a joke.

I realized today that most people in my life, or at least those that are close to me may not really understand what that means as I'm not sure I've ever really explained it to anyone in a way that might make any sense.  For years I, myself, didn't even know what was wrong, so really, how could I.  Once I got a diagnosis I tried a few times to explain and was met with either confused looks or loads of unsolicited advice on how I could "relax".  "You just need to calm down." became my cue to shut up. Sometimes it was cue to shut up And move on. In any case, I eventually stopped really explaining anything and just left it as I have anxiety...a very vague explanation of a very complicated disorder.

I also realized today that this may not be the best way to go about things...for me...or for those people that are lucky enough to have to experience the effects and aftereffects of the disorder. So...because I'm much better at writing things down than I am at conversation, I thought I would attempt an explanation here. One that isn't so vague. One that might clear things up a little or assist in letting the pieces "fall together".

I have GAD.  Or...Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Generalized, I guess because there is no "pin point" cause and it effects every single aspect of my life. Unlike, say Social Anxiety Disorder, in which people only have the anxiety in social situations. I have that as well, which is why, if anyone has every noticed, I cannot be in a social situation with people I know or don't know for longer than an hour without having a drink. I don't need to get or two drinks is usually enough to use as "medicine".  But, in addition to Social Anxiety I have every other anxiety as well. Generalized.

A Generic Definition I found online goes as follows: Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by chronic feelings of excessive worry and anxiety without a specific cause. Individuals with generalized anxiety disorder often feel on edge, tense, and jittery. Someone with generalized anxiety disorder may worry about minor things, major things, daily events, or the future. These feelings are accompanied by physical complaints such as elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate, muscle tension, sweating, and shaking.

That's a pretty good definition.  It's that. And it's much more. Explaining the "much more" is where I usually get tripped up and where people either stop understanding or start saying..."just relax" or "what are you worried about?"  This is usually where I give up and go make a drink because explaining it, honestly, gives me anxiety. As I'm trying to explain it now, I guess I can't do that. But...luckily I've already had a what's best to do go back to the name. GAD. Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I think, for me, if I could get anyone in my life to understand any part of it, even if they can't understand the whys or whats (because, honestly I don't always either) it would be that they just understand the NAME. 

I don't just worry for the hell of it. Telling me to relax won't help. This is a disorder.  I can do no more to change that than someone with ADD can stop having ADD or someone with Autism can stop being Autistic. As much as I hate the is what it is. That would really be all the understanding I need. 

People with anxiety disorder don't get better. We learn to "manage"...or at the very least try to manage. But sometimes it's hard to do that when no one is in your corner. This is why it's always been so important for me to try to explain and for someone to understand.  I deal with this every day. Every Day. Just as someone with...say...Tourette Syndrome has to deal with their Tourettes. It effects every decision I make. Whether to go out. Whether to stay home. What I eat. What I drink. What I say. How I feel. Some days are better than others. The anxiety is not gone, I've just done a damn good job managing. Sometimes it comes in bouts. Months at a time. Sometimes I shake. Sometimes I don't. And the hardest part of all is there is nothing I can do to make it stop. BUT...I manage. And, all in all, I think I've done a pretty damn good job of leading a somewhat normal life. 

But, as I've is what it is. I've seen doctors. I've tried pills. I still take some pills, but in the end, it will always be a part of me. I wish that weren't true, but hating that fact and fighting it is exhausting. Accepting it is the only option. 

I'm not sure if that explained enough, or anything for that matter, but it did clear a few things up for me. 

Hope, who is taking a page from her book of five years ago.