Living With….Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Living With….Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

I’ve had issues with Anxiety and Mental Health disorders for as long as I can remember.  When I was aged 8 I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (something I’ll write about in the future), which I believe stemmed from a severe phobia of being sick (emetophobia).  My OCD has manifested itself in all sorts of different ways (it’s not all about cleaning and washing your hands, you know!), especially over the last 2 years.

 

Today, what I’d like to write about is my experience with Generalised Anxiety Disorder.  A condition I was diagnosed as suffering from; back in January 2015.

 

Throughout the second half of this year, I’ve been upfront and honest about my mental health issues.  I’ve previously written about how I suffered from Post Natal Depression & Anxiety following the birth of my son in 2013.  I’d like to continue to be open and honest about how my mental health affects my day to day life. In many ways it’s cathartic to write about but also I’m very much of the opinion, the more we talk about mental health, the more we can break down the stigma that still seems to be ever present even in this day and age.

 

So, Generalised Anxiety Disorder….what is it?

 

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) can be defined as a disorder in which the sufferer feels in a constant state of high anxiety and is often known as ‘chronic worrying’ or a ‘free floating’ anxiety condition. (credit: Anxiety UK)

As I mentioned, I’ve always suffered from varying degrees of anxiety throughout my life.  I’ve ALWAYS been a worrier, despite my confident exterior, on the inside there has always been a battle of wills going on.  Desperately trying not to let my worries overcome me, whilst also in some strange way, ensuring I pay enough attention to the worries circling my mind so that I don’t ‘get caught out’.

 

What do I mean by that?  Let’s dissect the last sentence a little.

 

If I didn’t have something to worry about, to fret over, to even obsess over (enter the OCD), I would worry about that.  I would almost worry that if I was feeling good and worry free, that something would come along and bite me on the backside when I least expected it.

I would feel like I couldn’t relax, I couldn’t live in the here and the now, for fear of what might be lurking round the corner.

So, what would I worry about?  What was so frightening that it was having this effect on me?

Anything.  Absolutely anything is the answer to that question.  It could be something so small and minor as worrying that I might get a cold and have to cancel a night out I had arranged (this was more pre-Motherhood).  I would literally be panic stricken that I might develop a minor illness that would render me unable to stick to plans I had made.  Looking back, it sounds ridiculous, surely it would be seen as one of those things.  I’d got a cold, it’s an inconvenience but I’ll just rearrange the night out and ride the minor irritation out until I’m better.  But no, I couldn’t do that.  I would begin to catastrophize, if I got a cold, I wouldn’t be able to go to work perhaps; therefore I might get the sack.  I wouldn’t be able to go on my night out; my friends might fall out with me.

This is just one example of a worry.

Another example would be the irrepressible fear that I had said something offensive to someone.

The mind is an incredibly powerful thing, this is something I have learnt especially over the last year or 2.  It is capable of pretty much anything.

So, imagine I’m on a night out, the drinks are flowing, I’m having a great time.  Life is good.  I wake up the next morning, perhaps with a hangover and suddenly I’m struck with fear.  I’m talking overwhelming, sweaty palm, dry mouth fear.  I’m worried I said something to a friend/acquaintance that I shouldn’t have.  Cue a cycle of worrying that is very difficult to break.

I’ve said it, I’ve definitely said something to someone (even if deep down I’m sure I haven’t).  They’re going to hate me, that person will never speak to me again.  Heck, they’re going to tell everyone they know what I’ve said and no one will ever speak to me again.  I’m going to be hated, ostracised, this is going to be the worst thing ever.

This is what is going round in my head, and when I say it’s a cycle that is near on impossible to break, I mean it.  I can think of nothing else, and if for a second I do forget what I’m worrying about, I soon remember and the fear becomes all the more overwhelming once again.

This is the cycle I used to find myself in every single day.  The 2 examples above are just 2 examples of many different scenarios I have found myself in on a regular basis.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder is scary.  It can make your fears and your worries seem real.  At its worst, it has left me feeling irritable, tense and exhausted.  Exhausted from the incessant worrying, exhausted from the constant ‘what if’s?’ circling my brain.

What if I get food poisoning from this plate of food?  What if I don’t make this bottle up properly and make my baby poorly?  What if I’ve upset someone and they will never talk to me again?

I simply did not have the tools nor the strength to get a hold of this irrational worrying.  This in part, is what led to me reaching my lowest point at the very beginning of this year.

I was at my lowest ebb.

Now, things are different.  Yeah, I still worry, no amount of medication, therapy or counselling will change that.  However, it doesn’t overwhelm me like it used to.  I’ve taught myself to gain perspective, to ride the worries out.  I think to myself ‘what is the worst that can happen?’ or ‘will you still be worrying about this, this time next week?’.

Nowadays, I take each hour as it comes, I don’t fret so much about the future, or worry about what I did or didn’t do in my past.  I’ve learnt to use the rational side of my brain more and ignore the irrational thoughts and worries.

Some useful resources if you feel you would like to learn more about Anxiety.

https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/

http://www.mind.org.uk/

http://bemindful.co.uk/

 

 

 

This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. This sounds very familiar. I recognise that voice, the one that is all doom and gloom. It is wearing dealing with it day in day out, but as you say, the more we talk about it, the less we have to deal with it alone, so thank you for sharing, Tracey xx

  2. You could certainly see your expertise in the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your heart.

    1. ourrachblogs

      Thank you – that’s very kind of you to say.

      1. Cecilia Weimer

        This is exactly what I’ve been struggling with during my whole life!! Would you mind if I translate this in Swedish and share it in a group that I’ve created on Facebook?

        God, you described this totally perfect! Thank god I’m not the only one in the world going through this hell.

        Love to you!

  3. Amanda Thomas

    Oh my god! You and I are very alike! I’m petrified of being sick…and have been since childhood. I too suffer with OCD and GAD. The one thing that frustrates me the most is when people truly dont understand you! Lets hope as a team we can put the message out there xx

    1. ourrachblogs

      Hi Amanda, sorry to hear you suffer too. Just like you my phobia of being sick stemmed from childhood which then manifested itself into OCD and later in life GAD. It’s tough isn’t it. Deffo lets hope we can get the message out there! xx

    1. ourrachblogs

      You’re right, many do suffer from anxiety, I just hope the more I write about it, it helps others. Thanks for reading x

  4. Rachel

    I could have written this myself. Well done for putting it out there. I needed to read it today to realise how far I have come too. #bestandworst xx

    1. ourrachblogs

      Ah thanks Rachel, I’m pleased it’s made you realise how far you have come. Sometimes you need to take stock and remember how brave you are x

  5. Jeff

    Commenting as someone who helps people with anxiety – If you have anxiety try not to think of yourself as “suffering” and try to avoid catastrophic language. The words “Sufferer”,” Nightmare” could be viewed as counter-productive to the positive mindset needed to overcome this issue. Relaxation, meditation, exercise, humour and positive self talk are the best tools to change your mindset.

  6. It is really hard work – I have had spats of anxiety myself and it is both horrid and also frustrating as you want to just stop worrying! It sounds like you are in a better place and taking each hour as a time is a great philosophy. Great post to share for awareness and support too. Thanks for sharing with #bestandworst and see you again xx

  7. I also suffer with this and find it absolutely exhausting at times! I find that CBT helps me massively but it doesn’t take a lot to throw me back a few steps and I can spiral pretty quickly. Taking it one hour at a time is probably the best advice, thanks for sharing! #bestandworst

  8. Angus

    Thanks for your article. I am suffered from GAD lately and on the road to learn how to deal with it. It’s not easy but positively this illness makes me count my every day and try to do more things good to myself, leading to a better me. All the best my friend. Thanks again for your advice.

  9. Just wish to say your article is as astounding. The clarity in your post is simply excellent and i can assume you are an expert on this subject. Well with your permission let me to grab your RSS feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the rewarding work.

  10. I also have this disorder, combined with panic disorder, depression and a long battle with anorexia (which I appear to be winning!). Out of all of my mental illnesses, anxiety is the one which I hate the most. It affects me every second of every day, even during my sleep, and the physical symptoms of it are horrific. I have found CBT to be hugely helpful and yet when each course ends I find myself back to square one. It’s tough, I sympathise massively with all who suffer. #brilliantblogposts

  11. Thank you for sharing. I suffer from anxiety too and my biggest annoyance with it is the people that dont understand it, tell me to man up or face my fears. Its not even always worries, sometimes my body just reacts, It’s so frustrating especially at work where i get penalised for it and I will be getting a disciplinary for being off trying to get better. So unfair. The more of us that talk about it the more people may try and understand. I just wish it wasnt called Anxiety, if it was called anything more medical sounding people would sympathise. Ho hum .Great post though xx

  12. Thanks for sharing this. I also suffer with GAD (amongst other things) and it is possibly the hardest of all of my issues to cope with. It affects you not only mentally but physically, the impact on our lives is major! Great to raise awareness. #bestandworst

  13. bread

    Great post. I had emtephobia as a kid too, and have suffered with anxiety pretty much since I was a kid too. #brillblogposts

  14. Thank you for sharing this very informative post in our #ShowcaseTuesday linky. Well done on better managing your anxiety and OCD

  15. Janet

    I have anxiety issues and I’ve managed to control them for many years now, but every-so-often they come back and I feel like a little girl backed into a corner and that I’m not really an adult. It’s really strange and scary. I think you are really brave for sharing and being open about your conditions because it is the way to break through the barriers and stigma that surrounds mental health as a whole. I think you sound amazing so keep doing what you are doing. It’s so great you want to raise awareness and the sources you have provided are certainly useful too!

    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes

    Janet 🙂

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