Warning- This post will be bluntly honest.
Many of you that follow me know that I suffer from Anxiety and Panic Disorder. My mom passed away in January and it seems my Anxiety has been full blown for the past 4-6 weeks.
The only way I can describe anxiety is to compare it to being in a dark parking lot alone at night. Picture yourself walking to your car and getting ready to enter when out of nowhere a stranger grabs you. What sensation would you feel? I’m going to guess you would feel your heart pounding very fast, palms would become sweaty, legs feel like jelly and your mind would be circling with thoughts of- “Will I survive this?!” Let me state for the record, I hope no one would find themselves in a horrific circumstance like this. I would not wish that on my worst enemy. People with Anxiety Disease experience the same symptoms but for no apparent reason.
When anxiety hits and lasts for any length of time- you feel like your in an abyss that you’re unable to climb out of. It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Generalized Anxiety Disease (which is what I have been diagnosed with) appears out of nowhere and leaves when it’s ready. You wake up with your heart beating 100 mph and go to bed feeling the same. Anxiety disease, when full blown is a vicious, relentless cycle of symptoms. Another issue that arises when anxiety stays with you for any length of time are racing thoughts, which are referred to as intrusive or obsessive thought patterns. I worry about money 24/7. I thought most people worried about money issues just as much as me, until I began therapy and I was told that even with debt people without anxiety disorder don’t worry constantly.
Another issue when anxiety is at it’s worst- concentration and memory problems. I swear my short term memory is about 5 seconds long lately. Concentration isn’t much better, which has made it hard for me to write. Writing always came so easily to me but it’s dwindled because my anxiety is trumping!
I’m currently back in counseling and my counselor is using a newer module of therapy called EMDR.
“Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, is a powerful new psychotherapy technique which has been very successful in helping people who suffer from trauma, anxiety, panic, disturbing memories, post traumatic stress and many other emotional problems. Until recently, these conditions were difficult and time-consuming to treat. EMDR is considered a breakthrough therapy because of its simplicity and the fact that it can bring quick and lasting relief for most types of emotional distress.”
I’m feeling hopeful because I have a psychologist that is well trained in EMDR and feels I will be able to re-train my brain to help offset the anxiety I’ve been plagued with for years. One thing to remember as I was reminded, the negative thought patterns began years ago and the brain will not re-wire itself overnight. It also takes a lot of self-practice (dedication) to the therapy if you are hoping to see results. As I was told, It’s like exercising and trying to build muscle. This doesn’t happen overnight and re-training your brain to adapt isn’t a quick fix either.
I do know that social interaction is vital to my well-being. This is not the case if you suffer from social anxiety disorder. When I was working, I was much more focused because I had something to keep my mind busy other than the disruptive thoughts that occur when I’m home. I also had an income which helped to defer my worries. I am very pro-active with my husband’s business but most of the work I do is done behind the scenes with little social interaction.
I live in a small, rural town and the job prospects are slim. I also feel I reached an age that allows me to be a bit picky when it comes to finding my next job. I have a diverse background and I learn fairly fast. Every job I’ve ever had- I had to learn how to do after being hired. So it’s funny (not in a ha-ha type of way) that I’m so anxious while at home, yet focused and feeling a sense of calm when I’m working for an organization that values their employees.
The good news- Anxiety Disease is something you can live with if you find out your triggers and divert your attention in a positive direction. You can live with Anxiety Disease but it’s vital to get professional help if it’s consuming your life. Working outside of the home can be beneficial because you are focusing on something outside of yourself. Going to work gives you a sense of purpose and builds positive relationships outside of your home life. The key is finding a job that is conducive to your mental health. Actually, finding a job that’s conducive to your mental health is wonderful in any scenario.
I won’t lie, life seems tough right now but I’m holding on to hope that ‘this too shall pass,’ because I’m getting treatment and actively seeking employment. It’s been over 2 years since I worked outside of my home and I miss it. I put a lot of things on hold when my mother was terminally ill. It’s time to keep moving forward. Tomorrow always brings with it new beginnings and that’s what I’m counting on.
Please feel free to share your own stories. I know it’s hard for some people to share openly because they fear the stigma that is still attached to talking about ‘brain disorders,’ ( I don’t like the term, mental). Anxiety disease is more prevalent than people are aware- it’s not selective. It’s my hope with more discussion about anxiety disease and panic disorder the more we can learn from each other! Remember, you are not alone.
It’s also my hope that employers become more educated because people should not have to hide the fact that they are afflicted with anxiety. Many times trying to hide the disease from others just makes it escalate. It’s just as real as diabetes and many other illnesses.
Header image: from google images- original image can be found: http://www.emdr-therapy.com/emdr.html