I used to know a girl who grew up with many fears, and she thought she would out grow those fears. When ever she felt nervous she doubled over with stomach pains as a child. This young child was afraid of the water, afraid to put a plug in an electrical outlet, afraid to ask questions in school, afraid of angering those she loved, afraid of camping, because ‘there might be bears,’ and afraid of death and dying. Until she grew a bit older, she thought it was normal to have ongoing fears, and assumed all girls her age feared many of the things she did. This little girl had to be weak!
When the little girl became a teenager she became less interested in her education and much more interested in boys, along with hanging out with the ‘in’ crowd. She felt if she hung with the in crowd- she would be popular and that would boost her moral. Unfortunately, what she was searching for didn’t change how she felt on the inside; it just shifted for quite a while. She didn’t pay as much attention to her internal feelings. She also lost her father when she was eleven years old, and hardly thought about him after a year or so of his passing. This young teenager was passive, yet angered easily, and if she was hurting deeply inside she would punch her thighs or take her fingernails and scratch herself until she bled. The young teenage girl would cry behind closed doors, but tried to wear a smile when she was in front of others. She was weak!
When she became an adult new symptoms emerged; symptoms IE: Vertigo, racing heart, along with a sense of hopelessness that seemed to come and go on a fairly regular basis when she was a young adult. When she told others about her vertigo in particular they reacted as though she was a hypochondriac. She didn’t want to lose her friends, because she was beginning to realize she was different and not as strong as they were, so she tried hard to keep her symptoms to herself. She also attributed her symptoms to the stresses of raising two young children, working full time and taking care of her home. She was weak!
She is now a middle aged adult, and found out in her late twenties she had anxiety, but no one told her it would hang on for a lifetime if she didn’t get help. After all, she was diagnosed in the 80’s, and and medicine was the answer! The medicine seemed to work for quite a few years, because her anxiety lessened, and she became less fearful of life in general. Sadly, counseling wasn’t overly popular in the 80’s, and people didn’t talk about anxiety and other ‘mental health’ issues with others due to a major stigma attached to the term. Again, she was weak!
- She wakes up every morning feeling as though she’s shaking from the inside out.
- Her legs feel like jelly much of the day.
- She replays her worries in her head all day long.
- It feels like someone keeps tightening a noose around her neck through out each day.
- Her heart beats fast most of the day.
- She stays up late and could sleep all day if she could get away with it.
- Her bed is her friend.
- She cries easily, and gets distracted just as easily.
- Her head feels like it’s carrying bricks instead of her brain.
- Her muscles are tense all day long and cause pain.
- She feels as though she’s in an abyss she can’t climb out of.
- She beats herself up mentally, because of course “She’s weak!”
- She gets dizzy easily which interferes with daily functioning.
- She doesn’t share *most* of what she experiences, because she doesn’t want to appear weak!
- She feels hopeless.
- She’s been on a waiting list for counseling for almost eight months.
- She feels so alone, even though she is surrounded by so many loving people.
One thing that helps her when she’s feeling despair, anger or even extreme sadness is to crank up the jams. One song she loves and actually brings her out of the funk she’s in (at least temporarily) – This summer gonna hurt like a Mother#ucke@
This middle aged woman would like to introduce you to Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression. She was told that if you have Generalized Anxiety for a period of time lasting more than six months it generally leads to depression. Anxiety disorder and depression are still so misunderstood if one has not experienced it first hand. There is still a stigma attached to GAD and depression, and that’s why people try desperately to hide their symptoms or make up excuses.
She was genetically predisposed to the illness, and 40 years later is finding that there are a lot of medications doctors want to prescribe, however counseling isn’t easy to get into. The brain is an organ just like any other organ in the body, and it’s signals are misfiring along with sending out the wrong chemical messengers which lead to all the symptoms listed above. It’s disgraceful that the medical community puts patients on the back burner when it comes to mental health; mental health should be taken just as seriously as a person’s physical health. Sadly, if someone goes without proper treatment for any length of time- the condition worsens.
If generalized anxiety and/or depression go on for a long period of time, it does begin to take a toll on a person’s physical health. The symptoms a person experiences on a daily basis if untreated or not treated properly affect not just the brain, but the body as a whole.
The gal, who is now middle aged has been on a medication for years. She has been in counseling before, but it wasn’t the proper type of counseling. Talk Therapy does not help. They have also found people diagnosed with GAD tend to have bad experiences with most antidepressants, so GAD is hard to treat with medication alone.
She is patiently (or not so patiently anymore) waiting to get into proper counseling. She was told EMDR along with CBT works well with people like herself.
She did however learn a few things over the years; she can’t control the anxiety and depression, because it is an illness. She’s aware that with proper counseling there is hope. She’s also aware that she is not weak, she’s been ill and trying hard to function as normal for way too long. She’s learned that she is fairly strong, considering she’s been able to function even when she feels as though she can’t go on.
She is not weak!