It’s hard to remember a time before I wasn’t a circular thinker. I’d dwell on things for a ridiculously long time, worry about every move I made and dissect it long after everyone else involved had let it go.
As an adult, I’d come to accept my anxiety as part of who I was – just another an aspect of my personality.
I have been lucky enough to find a supportive and caring community to hold me up when life was hard and help me keep my “crazy” at bay since I was little. As an adult, being married to an introvert was especially helpful – we could stick with predictable and he served as my calm, stable rock when I was hyperventilating about needing to get air in my tires or if my boss was upset with me (spoiler alert: she wasn’t).
Unfortunately, in the past few years, my anxiety kept increasing. I knew depression ran in the maternal branch of my family, so that helped me in knowing I might have some funky brain chemistry. At my worst, I was dealing with panic attacks about basic tasks like going to work or having to make phone calls. At first, I was able to write it off as having a higher stress job than ever before, with people I didn’t want to let down, but it didn’t explain why I started crying when the CEO was “mean” to me.
After one too many crying jags at a lunch with my (very understanding) boss and mentor, and discussing it with Bill, I decided it was time to talk to a doctor because this just wasn’t a healthy way to live. I found a doctor covered by my insurance, and after a conversation with her (including yet another spate of tears), I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD.
One of the very best descriptions of GAD I’ve encountered just popped up on Buzzfeed today. I immediately shoved it in front of Bill’s fact and said THIS IS IT!
It’s so wonderful to have someone put into words (and gifs) all the things I’ve felt my whole life – for instance:
“One second I’m safe in my apartment watching Netflix, the next it’s like UGH WTF WHY DO I FEEL THIS EXISTENTIAL DREAD WHY CAN’T I BREATHE NORMALLY ANYMORE THERE IS LITERALLY NOTHING HAPPENING WHY???”
“Being able to schedule things and have a plan helps us chill, so ~winging things~ is just not enjoyable. Can we just decide when and where we’re going to meet?”
“You’re running late? OK, so do I sit here and do nothing for what could be, like, three hours? Do I start something that will inevitably be interrupted when you get here in five minutes? Did you die on your way over? UGH WHY CAN’T I JUST RELAX?”
“We don’t expect you to know the right thing to do or say. We just appreciate you being there.”
Now, I take a daily maintenance medication and meet with my doctor every few months to discuss how my brain is working and any side effects. The difference I have felt since starting my medication has been truly life-changing.
Bill has his wife back, I’m the creative employee my organization and co-workers deserve, and I’m simply and happily less crazy. That may sound dismissive or simplistic, but that’s the heart of my experience.
So, I guess this is sort of like a coming-out of sorts for me.
Hi, I’m Emily. My brain is broken, but I’m working to fix it the best I can. Thanks for hanging in there with me, and loving me for who I am.