Imagine my surprise when I discovered that F**k Anxiety was actually a book title. I checked it out last week, it's actually rather well done, especially the audiobook version read by the author, Robert Duff. I've dealt with Generalized Anxiety Disorder for the past 12 or 13 years. I've not had a horrible case of it - even when it's at its worse I manage to still perform well at work, maintain hobbies, etc. Every once in a while it decides it wants to take another try at kicking my ass and over the past month or so it's decided to make another run at making my life miserable. While I managed to juggle the misery of worrying about everything with my job, family, and schoolwork, I noticed that I missed my October 31 blog posting. For those who haven't noticed, I have an odd fetish for making blog updates on prime numbered days. It's not an OCD issue (something I've learned quite a bit about) - I've made posts on other days as well, I came up with the system when I wanted to find a schedule that was a little less frequent than every other day. As someone who spends a lot of time with numbers, both at school and at work, prime numbers just kinda seemed cool for that purpose.
Hopefully I'm coming off a nasty month - one of the major stresses - a possibly huge home repair bill, seems to be less of an issue than I'd worried it could have been. But anxiety is a pain in the ass - I spent time stressing about Hurricane Matthew before that, a storm which wound up coming nowhere near Massachusetts.
The Mayo Clinic lists its symptoms as:
- Persistent worrying or obsession about small or large concerns that's out of proportion to the impact of the event
- Inability to set aside or let go of a worry
- Inability to relax, restlessness, and feeling keyed up or on edge
- Difficulty concentrating, or the feeling that your mind "goes blank"
- Worrying about excessively worrying
- Distress about making decisions for fear of making the wrong decision
- Carrying every option in a situation all the way out to its possible negative conclusion
- Difficulty handling uncertainty or indecisiveness
It's not been as bad as it's been in the past, but given how lousy it can make quality of life, I'm treating it seriously and have started back in therapy and re-engaged in various techniques I'd let lie fallow - meditation, muscle relaxation, etc.
I'm mainly writing in support of people others who suffer from this or similar issues - many of them having it far worse than me or having an undiagnosed case of it. Mental health issues have the unfortunate aspect of many people believing they represent some weakness of character, one that if you were just "tougher" you'd not suffer from it. The best analogy I've heard is that that's like telling a person with a broken arm to just "tough it out" or to just "think the tumor away".
That's not to say medication is the only answer for anxiety or other mental health issues. For example, many of the meditation and muscle relaxation exercises I perform are also used for pain management, especially after surgery, in the hopes of reducing the need for potentially addictive painkillers. Every person is different - like I said, while my case has the potential to make me miserable and cause tension in the family, it's nowhere near as bad as some people have it. Some people need medication their whole lives, some need it for a period of time and get off of it, some never need medication.