I've Got My Anxiety to Keep Me Warm: Living with G.A.D.

Anxiety Girl

Anxiety Girl

Generalized Anxiety Disorder. What is it? In short, it basically means you're anxious in a myriad of ways all the time. Doesn't that sound lovely?

I was diagnosed with G.A.D. when I was 17-years-old. I was always anxious way before my diagnosis, but I was a "functional" anxious. At 17, it got to the point where I couldn't function. My first memory of anxiety revolves around me writhing on my parent's kitchen floor at the age of 5, worrying about getting a UTI (I had a lot of them as a kid, because I never went to the bathroom--I always thought I was going to miss something important).

When I was in elementary school, I always worried about going on field trips--something most children loved. To me, this stirred up my anxiety. I would think, "What if I get sick, and I need to go home? What do I do? Who will help me?" In middle school, I was anxious about getting to school early, getting to each class early (not on time, but early), and having all of my assignments with me when I needed them. I was terrified of getting in "trouble" or being yelled at by authoritative figures.

That's right. I am constantly worrying about getting sick, being sick, anything to do with sickness. It makes me a really shitty sick person, and a shitty friend to sick people. When I get sick, my mind tells me it will last for life. I'm a very sensitive sick person, so I have to be careful what meds I take, as I have reacted horribly to common cold killers, like Nyquil.Most sufferers of G.A.D. have one type of anxiety that reigns supreme above the others--a particularly anxiety they make sure to give their energy to; mine is: illness, if you couldn't already tell.

Sometimes I have difficulty distinguishing my anxiety from real life. I read an interview with Fiona Apple recently where she said she has trained herself to be "psychosomatically sick a lot." I do this, too. It's different from hypochondria. A hypochondriac thinks they're ill when they're not. A psychosomatic is actually ill, but the cause is mental. It's truly amazing how the mind can affect the body.

Oh, the irony!

Oh, the irony!

To deal with my anxiety, I started Zoloft (you know, the anti-depressant that has that commercial with a cute blob and a rain cloud over it) shortly after my diagnosis. At first, it turned me into a zombie. I was put on too high of a dose. All I could was sleep--which, at the time, I was fine with, because it meant I was too tired to be anxious. Once they fixed my dose, I still felt like a zombie for a short time--I both hated and loved this feeling. I hated it, because I just felt like there was no reason to care about anything. I loved it, because I my anxiety was nonexistent for the first time in my life.

After I had been on the medication for a while, the zombie feeling left, and I felt good. I was able to finish out high school--something I thought I may not be able to do before. In pair with starting the medication, I was in therapy weekly with an amazing therapist.

My anxiety flares up at certain times, but I'm able to manage it much better these days. I still take Zoloft, but I attribute my  recent anxiety lessoning to the amount of yoga I've been practicing. Yoga: it's a beautiful thing.