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Why I hate having an anxiety disorder.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

About two years ago I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Of course, because I was a minor at the time, and because excess anxiety makes me sometimes come off as a basket-case, no one told me anything about it. Just "You've got this disorder, but we don't think your case is severe enough to need treatment." Everything I know about it, besides the name, has been from Google.

Cool thanks. Now I've got fancy words that may or may not be the reason I can't make a phone call without feeling like I'm having a heart attack. Now I have words to explain that when you ask me a question and I'm not expecting it, my mind goes blank even if I know the answer. Even if it's something obvious like my name. If you put me on the spot enough, I do not know ANYTHING! Now I have a diagnosis that says "This is why you wont turn in any school assignments that you haven't thoroughly edited." I now have a piece of paperwork that means that my absurdly irrational fears are noted.

Let me tell you, a diagnosis doesn't help. In fact, it might even make things worse. Today I started panicking. I'm trying to transfer colleges. I need to ask for recommendations. I need to call my current college, and my high school and get my transcripts. Remember me mentioning irrational fears? I have a whole list of them. One of the hardest ones to live with is the fear of making phone calls to strangers or near-strangers. So I had to make three phone calls (recommendation, transcript, transcript). My heart was racing.

Then I have to write this essay to transfer. That's fine, except that I had already done one and a half drafts. In the first one, I sound depressed. Not just depressed, but almost suicidal. I'm not. I'm quite content actually. That essay got scrapped. I started a second one. Great, now I sounded like I'm bragging. Overcompensate much? I was panicing more. Cue the nausea.

I thought maybe I would calm myself down my eating an ice cream cone. I checked my bank account. $1005. I thought I had about $100 more than that. I had been keeping track of my account in my head, and forgot to subtract the money that my ipod had cost. Crap. Panic.

I suddenly remembered that I still had homework to do for two classes, and I fell apart. If I didn't do that homework I wouldn't get an A. If I didn't get an A no colleges would want me. If no colleges want me, then I'll never get my degree and I'll never become a teacher and I'll be a failure at life. It didn't matter to me that the work wasn't (isn't) due until Monday and Tuesday. That was it. I get restless when I'm in that state. I had to move. Had to walk. So I did. I slammed my laptop shut, shoved it in my backpack and RAN out of the mall. Bad idea. It hurt.

Ouch, I thought, because of my hurt hip. Then my diagnosis came floating back to me. "Anxiety Disorder" floated through my brain. Great, I thought, I'm a crazy. I can't even control my own actions. I don't even have the presence of mind to not run after I hurt myself. How can I ever expect to be a normal human being if I keep collapsing due to stupid things? Everyone has to do these sorts of things, and if I can't keep it together I must be crazy. I must be useless. And besides, what kind of person doesn't take responsibility for their actions? Its my fault I'm falling apart. Not this disorders. Only very weak people blame things beyond their control. I must be weak if I think that its the disorders fault. I must be worthless.

You see where that's going. I walked around the outside of the mall doing this. (As a side note, I realized today that this mall is HUGE. It took me 15 minutes to make the loop, and I wasn't exactly walking slow. I was as close to running as I could get without hurting my hip.)

By the time I got back to the doors I had ran from earlier I was better. I was still very angry with myself, but I wasn't panicky. I was just plain old angry. I will take angry any day over fear. Anger is easier to get rid of. I am a lot better at forgiving than I am at trying to NOT PANIC OVER STUPID THINGS! The moment I say those words to myself, or anything like them, that's about when I lose it. Funnily enough, when a serious situation comes up, I'm pretty good about not panicking. I can handle fear, or at least I can mask it. My heart rate might go up when I'm scared. I might get nauseous. Hell, I might even puke if I'm that terrified. But when it's a rational fear, I know there should an equally rational solution. It's when I'm 100% aware that my fear is unfounded that I lose it. When your fear doesn't make sense, how can you fix it. And the "not-knowing-what-to-do" factor is what gets me. It's the straw that breaks my back.

I still absolutely hate my diagnosis. Maybe it's better to know what specifically is wrong with me, but maybe not. Maybe I'd rather pretend that all people turn to jello at the thought of making a phone call. Maybe I want to get rid of my diagnosis and say "I'm in control!"

But unfortunately, I can't get rid of it, any more than you can get rid of cancer by denying it. I've been having these awful anxiety attacks since I was a little girl. I have tried denying them, and that did me no good. So now they have a name. Great. Thanks for that entirely USELESS bit of information.

I think that when I get back to Mass (read: when I get back to a place where I have health insurance) I'm going to start going to some sort of therapist. I've gone back and forth with this for a while. My last therapist told me that my mother was right to kick me out for not having a job. She told me that I was greedy, and stubborn and had a very inaccurate view of my family. (This bothered me particularly much since she at the time she said it, she hadn't spoken to anyone but my father, and she'd only spoken to him for about 15 minutes, outside of scheduling appointments.)

But I do know that different types of therapy work for different people, so I'm going to go with that and try again.


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