Diagnosis: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
What is your diagnosis? What makes your particular diagnosis difficult to deal with? What are your daily struggles? Take us through a day in the life.
My diagnosis is generalized anxiety disorder. What makes my particular diagnosis difficult to deal with is I also deal with an autoimmune disease that feeds off of stress and since I stress from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed, most days are like Russian roulette. Some days I’ll wake up with no worries other days I’ll wake up and hear a sound and think something’s broken in my house or I’ll see headlights and think someone that I don’t know is at my door and then start worrying how I’m going to talk to this new person.
When did you realize what you were experiencing wasn’t normal?
I have been sick since I was a little kid, when I was 13 I was diagnosed with lupus which is an autoimmune disorder, but before that I just always remember being anxious and worrying. I would be walking to school and get half way there and would have to walk back home to make sure my door was locked or my lights were off. It was constant worrying. It landed me in the hospital numerous times because stress is lupus’ fuel, my worrying made me physically sick. So that’s when I saw a therapist and was diagnosed with GAD. Fast forward to modern day and I’ll be graduating college with a degree in psychology and moving onto my masters in social work. A diagnosis isn’t a sentence it’s a stepping stone to a new perspective.
Early on, why didn’t you seek help?
Beside the anxiety and being sick, I am a very calm and laid back person. I love organization but my favorite days are where nothing is planned and everything still works out. I strive to help people when I’m older and try and better the world in anyway I can. This is why when i started to become skittish and had trouble sleeping at night, I knew something was wrong. Sleeping was never my strong suit, but this was a new level of insomnia. I was literally up all night thinking and analyzing every single thing that happened in the 24 hours of that past day. After that, I knew something needed to change. I hesitated to seek help because anxiety and depression has ran in my family for as long as i could remember. All my cousins were anxious, my dad, uncle, brothers, and grandparents. But did they also have trouble sleeping or functioning?
What type of reactions are not easy for you to hear? What reactions do you appreciate when you share with someone that you live with a mental illness?
The biggest reactions that aren’t easy are “just get over it” “stop worrying about it” or the stares and smirks people give you when you tell them you physically can’t get out of bed, I apologize more than you know for what I missed. It’s not my fault, that’s just the way my brain is wired. I really do appreciate when people however give me my space or if i say i’m really anxious today, they ask if i need anything in particular.
What do you feel are some of the misperceptions around mental illness?
There are many misperceptions about mental illness. But the one that bugs me the most is when people say if you’re not sad or anxious and someone starts talking about it, they will put that thought or emotion in your head.