Suffering From Anxiety Disease and Social Implications


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:

Anxiety And Depression Are Weaknesses, So Learn To Deal With It!

Depression sign

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!

Overcoming Fear of Open Water Swimming- One Man’s Journey To Becoming an Ironman


Brian has always been a driven person from a young age.  Brian began working as a Technical Support Representative with our local Internet Service Provider when he was only 14 years old.  He continued to work for them until he graduated from High School.  While Brian was always active and athletic, his deep passion for fitness and health came later in life as a way to connect with others, himself and overcome negative thinking.  Brian also over came an intense fear of open water swimming, which he wasn’t aware he had until he decided to participate in Triathlons.

Brian’s Journey, and how it began

Brian moved to London in 2006, because his wife Christine was offered, and accepted a job in London. While Brian was living in London he began running with his friend Martin during their lunch breaks.  Brian’s dad had a traumatic knee injury, which Brian witnessed while they were on a remote canoeing trip in Canada. Brian started running with his friend Martin during their lunch break, and it was then Brian learned Martin enjoyed participating in Triathlons.  Martin told Brian about one Triathlon in particular, Alcatraz!  Brian never considered doing Triathlons until his friend Martin spoke of this event.  The very day Brian learned of this particular Triathlon, also called Alca Tri, Escape From The Rock he signed up for the race. Alca Tri: XXVIII was only 16 months away. It dawned on Brian that running for one, was a great way of connecting and overcoming  the trauma of his dad’s traumatic knee injury. You can read more about Brian’s journey on  Brian’s personal blog

Brian realized he had a lot of practice to prepare for the swim. Brian found a coach, joined a team, along with doing Triathlons in London to prepare for Escape From The Rock. When Brian began learning and practicing to swim in open water he learned he also had a fear of it.  The fear of jumping into the cold, dark water in the San Francisco Bay swimming back from Alcatraz was a real fear.  Brian overcame his fear by practicing for Alca Tri over a period of 16 months. 

Alca Tri: XXVIII

Brian’s training and participating in Triathlons in London began in 2007.  Alca Tri: XXVIII was coming up in 2008.  Brian completed 5-6 Triathlons in London leading up to Ala Tri: XXVIII which also helped to reduce his open water panic prior to Alca Tri. Brian also did the London Triathlon in 2008, and still had open water swimmer’s anxiety, but it had lessened  after competing in in a few Olympic distance Triathlons.  Brian also kept the swim map for the Alca Tri competition next to his bed and he would see it every morning which helped him to stay focused on his end goal- the swim from Alcatraz. 

Triathletes take a ferry out to Alcatraz and swim the murky bay -infested with sharks and sea lions back to shore. This was a major feat for Brian, which gave him the ambition and self confidence to continue to participate in more competitions.

There are many ways to overcome your fears as Brian did. An article written for Triathletes mention 7 steps in overcoming that fear; the first step is to acknowledge your fear!

It’s also very beneficial to have a great support system-  in Brian’s case it was his wife, Christine who stood behind him, and beside him throughout all of his endeavors.  It’s also wise to join a team, and find a great coach;  all which help to strengthen your abilities, and give you the assurance you are not alone- along with the fact that if you are determined, you can do this!

Ready to jump on the ferry and swim back from Alcatraz


When Brian moved back to the States with his wife, he began to ponder if he would be capable of doing an Ironman competition. He became active with with local Triathlon clubs in Virginia, and realized that it was more than just the sport that inspired him; he enjoyed mentoring others, and being part of the community itself. When you find your passion, it becomes addictive and without knowing it, you can also inspire others to find their passion.

Brian now lives in Colorado with his wife and began doing Half Ironman competitions which was helping him to build endurance for the full Ironman Competition. Brian’s ambitions became a reality when he was accepted by the Ironman Foundation- Newton Running Ambassador Triathlon Team in Boulder Colorado, which bring together triathlete’s who are passionate about both Ironman events. Newton Running and “Service Through Sport,” enabled Brian to fulfill his desire to give back to communities they race in.  The Ironman Newton Running Team, also named TriTeamforGood was instrumental in Brian’s continued training. He had a great coach, and awesome teammates who kept each other inspired, along with accountable. Sharing your passion with team mates helps to curb anxieties, and everyone has their own knowledge base to share with others which helps to ensure an awesome experience and team!

The day finally arrived, Ironman Boulder 2014; Excitement and Inspiration


Brian’s wife, parents and children were in Boulder, Colorado last August 2014 to watch, and cheer Brian on during the 140.6 mile Ironman Race.  Newton Running is an official sponsor of the Ironman Competition, and they play a vital role not only by means of their running products, but they also are there every step of the way to encourage the Triathletes.  

The positive energy felt within the crowd was contagious ; being a spectator during the race was beyond words. It was hard to imagine anyone doing a race of this magnitude.  There are many different reasons men and women participate in Ironman Competitions. For many who participate in the competition, it becomes personal as it was for Brian. One man was given a poster that read “I may be an Ironman, but my wife beat cancer.”  Brian’s journey leading up to Ironman Boulder made him aware that even if fears are involved; you can overcome them, and triumph.  

The emotions Brian’s family, and Brian himself felt was indescribable when the announcer yelled over a mic- as he does to every man and woman who crosses the finish line, “Brian Gallagher, “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”  Brian began with his sight set on smaller goals mixed with a major fear of open water, and ended up becoming an Ironman! Brian crossed the finish line in just under thirteen and one half hours. 

 Ironman Strength quote

If you are determined to become a Triathlete make sure to have support from those who love you, believe in yourself, join a Triathlon club and/or use an app which can empower you, along with train you.  

Brian is one example of many who decided to face his fears,  only to find out he was capable of accomplishing more than he dreamed he could.

“You can quit if you want, and no one will care. But you will know the rest of your life.” – John Collins (Founder of The Ironman).