Wednesday, October 08, 2014

I Choose Life: Living With Anxiety Disorder

If you ask anyone if they're stressed out, the answer is going to most likely be one big "YES". If they aren't, I want what they're having. Aside from that, while I was heavily into the Paleo diet, trying to lose weight and boost my immunity, it's not all about the food you eat in order to keep you healthy -- it's about getting a good night's sleep and eliminating unnecessary stressors from your life. I mean -- how on earth are we supposed to dodge every stress bullet that comes flying our way? It's impossible sometimes. I remember an old co-worker of mine used to tell all the time, "Save it for the big stuff, Deb. Trust me." I was only 23 years old and stressing out as if I had 12 kids and an abusive husband. I had none of that. I stressed over every single little detail of my life. At the age of 40, I still fret over -- well, mostly anything sometimes. I tell my mom I get it from her. Although she is quite the worry wart, she doesn't quite get "anxiety attacks" or has fits -- she's very calm and collective. She gets super quiet when she's stressed out. I guess people handle their anxieties differently. Nonetheless, stress does affect us more than we realize. When I go through a very stressful situation, I come down with a cold or some nasty stomach bug. I'm not sure if it's psychosomatically produced -- the worry, the anxiety, the panic literally takes a physical toll on me. So if my mind is occupied with stress and worry, then my body just sort of shuts down. Having an anxiety attack alone drains every bit of energy from me. I'm usually passed out somewhere from exhaustion.

95% of what we tend to worry about usually never happens. In my case, I can be worrying about driving to a particular place far away and think, "Ugh, I'm gonna have a panic attack and pass out while I'm driving."  Never happens. I may get anxious, but I usually find some sort of coping mechanism, like calling my wife so she can chat with me while I make my way to my destination or finding good music on the radio. Whatever. I also worry about "if" I'll wake up the next morning due to my anxiety-induced seizures at. I'm here typing…thankfully. I worry about heart attacks, strokes, DVTs, the flu -- yes, I am a hypochondriac at times, and when I'm not so stressed out, I'll chuck up chest pains to 'just gas' -- which is usually the case.  I've learned to steer clear of WebMD and try to comfort myself by playing my guitar, even if it's at 2am. I'm so fortunate to have a supportive wife who helps and understands what I go through. And she also gives me some 'tough love' and gives me a few reality slaps that are very much needed. Most of the time, she's right.

If you're a long time reader of mine, you totally know that I am very open about my generalized anxiety disorder. I was never diagnosed with anything else, except for spells of depression after the initial attacks, which are very common among GAD sufferers. I try to stay away from people who drain the life out of me -- usually combative and reckless people who seem to hurt more than they do help.  I mean -- you can't control what happens every time you walk out of the door, but you can make changes to make it better. I go to counseling and I am very proud of it, because it has helped me tremendously. It feeds me new coping skills each and every session.  Just having someone to understand my situation from an outsider's point of view is a huge help. I find it odd when someone mocks another person for gong to therapy and counseling. Or someone who calls another person "crazy" just because they're trying to get some help. It's not only immature and ignorant, but it's extremely insensitive. It usually stems from their own inner 'crazy'. People like that are toxic and a waste of anyone's time. Again, psychological projection is usually the reason for their madness.  I also think just by the world we live in today -- everyone should be in counseling.

So, for the time being, I'm going to start being a little selfish for once. As long as my bills are paid and I take care of my wife and dog -- I have no other obligation other than to find peace for myself. My walls are built up high and I'm going to enjoy this life and let nobody steal my peace ever again. Sometimes, it's important to push certain people far far away, just to gain a little bit of sanity, otherwise life isn't worth living. I'm choosing life.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!