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:
-        Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
-        Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
-        Panic Attacks
-        Anxiety Attacks
-        Phobias
-        Cutting and Self Harm

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 for me.

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 situation?”

Here’s an example. This is what I would think with my anxious brain:

“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.

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