Anxiety

OK, Fine, I'll Say It: I Have An Anxiety Disorder

It's not an uncommon thing, so why do I feel like I'm the only one?

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For many years, I've done my best to hide this from most of the world. I don't know that it worked because I definitely let this get the best of me from time-to-time, but it was very important to me to keep this fact a secret. As a teenager especially, I felt that my peers would judge me and choose to see me as nothing more than this one part of me that I have very little control over. Now as a college student, I'm learning just how common this is and I'm sick of trying to hide—it's too much work that's not worth the effort.

So, here I go: I have generalized anxiety disorder with depression.

I can't believe I'm officially sharing this, but I think it's time. After all, 1 in 5 American adults yearly for a total of about 15 million Americans, men and women alike. It's scary to know there's something wrong with your mind that's making you sad and upset about almost everything in your life. My thoughts literally take things I notice and twist them into things they're not—like what is that?! I do myself dirty all the time, and I just can't stop.

My anxiety symptoms take a toll on a lot of my relationships. I get irritated with my family about the littlest things because my brain is telling me everyone around us is judging us. I cling onto friends so hard that they want nothing more than to be rid of me after awhile. Luckily, I've been blessed with an understanding family and friends who accept me as I am, no matter what.

When I get depressed—this happens once every year or so—I lose months of my life at a time. It doesn't cripple me as bad as it does for many others, but all I can do is panic and convince myself I hate myself. It's a very difficult thing to deal with, especially because I know what I'm telling myself isn't true. My brain just doesn't like to believe what it knows is fact—it would rather just listen to the depression.

I've recently been able to accept that anxiety is an inevitable part of my life and have gotten used to talking about it. However, that doesn't change that I feel shame for being on anti-depressants and going to talk to a therapist. Society makes me feel like medicine + therapy = crazy, even though I know that's not the case. As silly as it is, I hide my face as I walk into therapy and try not to make a production out of taking my medicine in public. It's not fair that I feel this way—it's out of my control that my brain doesn't work the same way as everyone else's.

In my research, I came across a quote that really struck me. Neuroscientist and psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Pine once said, "Anxiety disorders are one of the most treatable mental health problems we see. Still, for reasons we don't fully understand, most people who have these problems don't get the treatments that could really help them."

Y'all, why are we suffering in silence?

Why are we passing so much judgment on 20% of our nation instead of encouraging everyone to get better? I hope that by sharing my story, someone somewhere recognizes that it's okay to get help. If my one drop in the bucket can change someone else's life, that'll be enough for me.

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The Truth About Dating A Girl With An Anxiety Disorder

She knows how annoying she can be, but she just prays you love her regardless of her flaws.

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Anxiety: A nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks.

The definition makes it sound really daunting. Truthfully, there is no one way to describe generalized anxiety disorder if you have it. It is hard to live with, hard to cope with and unfortunately, really hard to date with.

Girls with anxiety are different than the average girl when it comes to relationships. That's just an honest statement, no matter how much it hurts me to say it.

We need the constant reminder that you love us, even though we know in our hearts that you do. We panic when you don't answer your phone, in fear that we did something wrong. We care about your feelings when you say that we don't need to worry and we need to be a little calmer. But it's so damn hard.

It isn't easy to love someone who worries about everything 24/7. Half the time, we know we shouldn't be doing the things we do. We know we shouldn't blow up your phone or ask just one more time if you are mad at us. But we can't help it. It says it right in the definition: compulsive behavior due to excessive uneasiness.

Being with a girl with anxiety is probably downright exhausting. It's exhausting for us to have our minds constantly running and worrying. But I promise it's worth it.

We come to you with everything because you are the one person who always knows how to make us feel better. When we are happy, you are the one person we want to be happy with. We all know the constant reassurance, reminders and the same old arguments get old. It gets old to us too.

There was never a time I wanted to have a panic attack because my boyfriend wasn't answering his phone. In my head, I knew where he was because he was usually in the same three places. I knew he wasn't mad at me because I didn't do anything to make him upset. I knew how busy he was with his classes and he was probably studying and I needed to give him space. But the little voice in my head always argued, "What if you did something wrong? What if he's ignoring you because he's angry? What if he's seen your messages and calls, but no longer wants to be with you?" And then I give in. I call, I text, I cry, I panic. Only to feel even worse 10, 30 or 50 minutes later because you answer angrily, telling me what I already knew after I did what I knew I shouldn't have done.

Having anxiety is almost like having a drug addiction. You know all the things that trigger you. You know all the ways to stay away from the bad places in your mind so you don't end up relapsing. But you do anyway and it hurts worse every single time.

Dating a girl with anxiety is as hard as it gets, but she will love you like no other. She is so incredibly thankful for all the things you put up with to be with her. Because she is worried about being loved, she goes the extra mile to always remind you how much you are loved. She always asks if you are ok because she cares about the answer and knows what it's like not to be ok.

The truth is that dating anybody with anxiety is difficult, but it isn't impossible. You get back everything you put in, even though you may not realize it. Trust me, she is sorry for being the annoying, crying, worried, naggy mess and it embarrasses her because she knows better and she wants to be better for you. But please love her. Hold her, understand her, listen to her, calm her, be there for her. In your heart, you know she would turn around and do all the same things for you in a heartbeat.

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A Day In The Life Of A Socially Anxious Person

"I better lower the volume of my phone. Someone sitting next to me might hear what music I'm listening to and judge my song choice."

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According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), social anxiety disorder affects 15 million adults in the United States. It is one of the most common mental illness and yet a lot of people don't know what social anxiety disorder (SAD) exactly is and have misconceptions about it. Social anxiety is often misunderstood as shyness. However, SAD goes beyond shyness. For someone with SAD, daily social interactions can be stressful to handle because of fear of negative evaluation and embarrassment.

To eliminate misunderstandings and spread awareness about SAD, here's a picture diary of what a day in the life of a socially anxious person looks like.

8:30 a.m.

"I better hurry and switch off my alarm before my roommate wakes up. I'm afraid she might hate me for waking her up this early."

12:00 p.m.

"I know the answer to this question but I'm too scared to answer. What if it is wrong and I embarrass myself in front of everyone?"

3:00 p.m.

"I better lower the volume of my phone. Someone sitting next to me might hear what music I'm listening to and judge my song choice."

5:00 p.m.

"I better keep practicing my order in my head otherwise I might stumble upon my words and make a fool of myself."

7:00 p.m.

"I am just going to delay answering this call as I'm afraid to answer the phone. I don't know who is on the other side and am not exactly sure what to say."

10:00 p.m.

"I'd rather not sleep, as if I try to, I'll be reevaluating all the embarrassing moments of my day."

Along with these thoughts, a person suffering from SAD might also experience physical symptoms like nausea, dizziness, flushing, palpitations, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest. If your day looks anything like the picture diary above and you have been experiencing physical symptoms, do not be afraid to seek help.

According to a survey conducted by ADAA, 36% of people with social anxiety disorder report experiencing symptoms for 10 or more years before seeking help. If you are someone who is suffering from SAD, always remember that there's hope. Always seek help as social anxiety disorder is treatable through medication and therapy.

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