Quirky stories about my experiences with mental illness for your enjoyment. All names other than mine have been changed. Nothing here is intended to replace the advice of a health professional. (D'Arcy Stainton, Vancouver, Canada - email@example.com)
Monday, September 24, 2012
I’ve been spending a lot of time talking about living with
bipolar disorder. I also live with other things that cause me trouble – like my
cat, my nearsightedness, and two anxiety disorders.
I live with Social Anxiety Disorder and Generalized Anxiety
Disorder. All anxiety disorders are related, and include:
I didn’t realize that I was anxious until I was
hospitalized. It was like when I was in grade two – I sat at the front of the
class and squinted at the blackboard, not realizing that anybody else in the
class had to do that. I just assumed everyone saw the world as I did.
Then I got my first pair of glasses. The shock of putting
them on, and being able to see leaves on trees, was profound.
That’s what it’s like when you begin to learn to control
your anxiety. You believe that it is entirely normal to worry about the future and
to obsess about the past, and are shocked to find out that the majority do not.
I worry about the same things as everyone else. Money,
relationships, work, the weather. The deal with GAD is that the worrying
becomes intrusive and obsessive. It means you worry every day, and it makes it
difficult to relax and concentrate.
For me, GAD means that I avoid things that I need to do.
Taxes, for example. Or looking at my banking information. Money is a bad one
I put things off because I feel overwhelmed a lot of the
time. Or, I leave things until the last minute because I’m worried that I will
do a poor job. I just can’t get started.
The worry takes a physical toll. It is hard to take breaks
without feeling guilty.
There are many ways to cope. I will talk about some of them
another time. The one I use the most is saying to myself:
“What is the absolute worst thing that can happen in this
Here’s an example. This is what I would think with my
“I’m worried that I will be late to pick up my wife for our
date, then we won’t get in to see the play she wanted and I will have wasted
$100.00 and my wife will hate me and want a divorce, or at least make me sleep
on the couch forever.”
So this is what I tell myself:
“What is really the worst thing that is likely to happen? I
will be late, and I will apologize. My wife might be mad. I will have wasted
$100.00, but that won’t make us broke. I will take her to a movie instead, and
then I won’t have to see that stupid play. The next day I will get her some
flowers to say sorry.”
…and then what really happens? I show up on time.
My wife would say that is one great thing about my disorder.
I am never late.