My Struggle with Anxiety Disorder
I have chronic anxiety. To the point that I have trouble breathing sometimes. When I’m having these “episodes” (sounds so corny, I’m cringing while I’m typing this), I try to consciously take in deep breaths, but I feel like I can only get about 80% of my lung capacity. ARRRrrghhh! It’s so frustrating and debilitating at times, that I’ve gone to the doctor 4x in the past year to get checked out. But wait, an anxiety disorder? Sounds a bit dramatic.
They Said I Have an “Anxiety Disorder” lol
My doctor said it was most likely stress-related but just to be sure, she sent me to a pulmonologist (a doctor who specializes in the respiratory system). They did all sorts of breathing tests, chest x-rays, but they didn’t find anything physically wrong. Whew! At least I could cross off lung cancer as a possibility (I was so sure it might be lung cancer, even though I don’t smoke; I’m just super paranoid).
In the end, they said that I have an anxiety disorder and prescribed me fluoxetine (Prozac) and a benzodiazapene called lorazepam (Ativan – it’s similar to Xanax I think).
It’s still very frustrating because I think they look at me like I’m some weirdo that’s hyperventilating for no reason. As if these physical symptoms are just all made up in my mind. But I feel like I know myself fairly well, and I’d like to think that I’m a rational person. And it doesn’t “feel” rational to me that I’m having some sort of anxiety/panic attack because it’s “all just in my mind.” Ugh.
I’ve Always Been Anxious, and a Perfectionist
I’ve always had anxiety; partly because I’m a perfectionist. From when I was a child, I had reoccurring nightmares about being late to class, missing classes, or failing on tests. All of this came with a good dose of insomnia too. I just couldn’t fall asleep because my mind was always racing and worrying. Mostly about pointless stuff too, which made it all the more annoying.
I worry most about my future. I worry A TON about money. I worry about failing. I worry about work. I worry about my lack of faith and spiritual dryness. I worry and feel guilty about my constant hypocrisy because it’s so disgusting to me. I worry about my health and my family’s health. I worry about my parents, my brother, my friends, and all my relationships.
You’re Not Alone; We’re All Broken
This is tough for me. I don’t like being so open and vulnerable. I really like to portray an invincible image. But the problem is this: it’s fake. Whenever I’m posting inspirational stuff, I feel like more than anything I’m preaching to myself. I’m trying to remind myself to get myself back on track. I think this world is becoming more and more judgemental and hateful. The whole thing is just such a sad mess.
It’s all so screwed up that sometimes I long for death; because then I could be in heaven. How awesome would that be! No more pain and no more sorrows! I’m sharing all of this because I think there are others out there that are struggling with what I’m struggling with. Maybe even way more than me.
So if that someone is you, then please know that you’re not alone. Don’t feel like you’re the odd duckling because there are a lot of us out there. People that may, on the outside, look like they are invincible. People from all walks of life. Even ones that may look like they’ve got everything all figured out.
I feel a bit embarrassed to say all of these things, because I 100% believe that I’m outrageously blessed. There are so many people hurting out there, that are going through extraordinarily difficult times. I feel super guilty when I feel anxious. Knowing how “pampered” I get by God. And because I know I’ve been so fortunate in my life. I constantly feel guilty. And am not sure why I still feel these things.
How I’m Doing Now; and an Update on my Meds
I’ve been doing better. I still get anxiety but surprisingly the medication is helping a ton. I used to look down on people who took medications. But seriously, it’s helping me so much that I’m happy that I finally started taking them. That said, I’ve come off the Ativan because I had problems concentrating at work. Because it made me super drowsy.
The Prozac though, has been a life-saver. It helps with the chronic anxiety. So it’s no longer this constant looming dread and despair over my head. The only big side effect that I kind of don’t like is that it makes me feel very impulsive. In many ways it’s freeing though. So I wouldn’t trade it for the world, at this point.
I can also finally sleep better, which is a big deal for me. I’ve been getting between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a day! I’ve also cut back quite a bit on work, and I’m spending more time on my hobbies (i.e. exercise, reading, blogging, social media, etc). So I feel a lot more balanced; and because of that, I’ve noticed that I’ve been a lot happier and satisfied with life!
Lastly, I feel the need to point out that my anxiety disorder doesn’t define me. It doesn’t mean a whole lot to me. To me, it’s like saying I have black hair and brown eyes. Maybe this analogy is bad, but the reason why I’m saying this is because I don’t give this “diagnosis” a lot of weight or let it dictate my life and how I ultimately see myself. It’s not like I go around introducing myself to people like “Hi I’m Tim, I have an anxiety disorder.” Even my closest friends and family members don’t know that I’m on medication! Well, up until now that is.
WebMD – What are anxiety disorders?
Wikipedia – What is fluoxetine (Prozac)?
Drugs.com – What is lorazepam (Ativan)?
Do you, or any loved ones you know, struggle with anxiety or anxiety disorder? What are some of the things you’ve tried to cope? Why do you think, as a society, we’re becoming more and more anxious, stressed, and worried?