Anxiety Disorders Aren't Just About Being Anxious

Anxiety Disorders Aren't Just About Being Anxious

Living with Generalized Anxiety Disorder can be completely frustrating and misunderstood

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I have been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and it's incredibly misunderstood. Psychology Today states that 6.8 million American adults have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and that it is much more than the "normal anxiety" people experience. It often comes on with no real rhyme or reason, and can be completely debilitating sometimes. Physical symptoms can occur such as trembling, headaches, irritability, hot flashes, lightheaded, and trouble sleeping. Personally, I was glad to have this diagnosis, because it finally gave me a name for what I was going through and reassured me it wasn't just me creating more problems for myself.

So many people experience day to day anxiety and the word anxiety is thrown around more often. Everyone is anxious over some things, that's normal. Big tests, first date nerves, bills, pressure to meet a job deadline…anxiety happens. My anxiety takes a nastier approach, though. I'll give you one example of a thought process that has happened before. I could be having a great day but then start feeling hungry and go to my kitchen to look for something to eat and remember I'll need to grocery shop soon, and then it starts to spiral for no reason. Ugh I have so many bills I hate spending money on groceries. Should I pick up overtime at work this month to make more money so I stop worrying? Should I get a second job? No that's silly my job pays my bills, I love my job, why overwork myself? I really work too hard. Why am I so stressed out all the time? Compared to other people I'm in a great place. But it's not about comparison its where I feel like I should be. And I'm not there yet. Why am I still not there yet? I wonder if my friends think less of me because I'm older than them and they are graduating and I still haven't? Should I go back to school? No, you have a great job and you know school isn't for you. It's just more stress. Maybe you should take a hot bath and light a candle and do a face mask? Self-care would help right now. Wow I have a migraine again. I wish people understood when I say migraine it's not just a headache like I feel this down my neck. I need to drink more water. My skin would clear up if I drink more water. God my skin is usually clear I hate getting anxious and having it pop out on my face. And if I drank more water maybe I'd feel healthier. Do people think it's pathetic that I still haven't lost the weight I want to? If I was skinnier I'd probably be less stressed. All of this from me feeling hungry and needing to make dinner. WHY!? Because generalized anxiety disorder doesn't make sense, so taking one thing and spiraling out of control happens a lot. I could be having a great day, nothing would be wrong, and suddenly I'd start thinking of why are things so good and what could go wrong? It's terrible.

Please never mistake my generalized anxiety disorder for "normal anxiety". Please never mistake it for insecurity. People will often times tell me to be more confident and trust in things, but it's not at all that I don't. I have to say that my confidence in myself has never been higher. I trust in the process of life and that things happen exactly when they're supposed to. My anxiety disorder apparently makes it appear otherwise though, so for that I'm sorry. I feel the need to apologize for people not understanding, which shouldn't have to be the case. I'm beyond grateful for people in my life who continuously love me and try to understand what it must be like for me.

Anxiety disorders are controlled by your brain, but they don't have to control your life. I have to actively work on it every day. While most times I don't know what triggers it, I learn how to recognize the signs of it starting to happen, and how to deescalate it. I don't fully understand my generalized anxiety disorder, so it's hard for me to ever expect someone else to. But all I can ask is those around me be aware and sometimes it's honestly the littlest things that can calm me down. Say "I'm here.", "I'm listening" , hug me and hold me for a minute before letting go. Everyone who lives with an anxiety disorder is affected in different ways. If you don't know what to say or how to help, ask them what they need.

There are plenty of medications out there for people living with anxiety disorders, and everyone is different in their approach to helping ease the pain of anxiety. I, personally, have tried medications but currently work on controlling it myself. I feel strong, empowered, and capable of taking it on without medication. Everyone is different. Just because I choose to not use medication, doesn't mean that doctors don't suggest it for me. Anxiety disorders are often times due to wiring in the brain. Medication can help reprogram that. I am a strong advocate for people who choose to take medication for their anxiety. It is a medical condition: if you are sick, you take medicine. It's nothing to stigmatize and shame people for.

I'm not asking anyone to understand what I go through, because it isn't always the same picture I painted today. I'm just trying to bring about awareness. Anxiety is a word commonly used, but anxiety disorders are rarely talked about. Awareness is the first step to healing. For anyone living with anxiety, and for anyone close to someone with anxiety.

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Sorry I'm A Size 00

But I'm not really sorry.
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My whole life I’ve been thin—which is kind of an understatement. Every time I go to the doctor I get the same “you’re underweight” lecture that I’ve heard every year since I was able to form memories. I’ve never really felt insecure about my weight, I love being able to eat everything and not gain a single pound. Since my freshman year of high school I’ve probably only gained 8 pounds and I’m now a sophomore in college. Of course, in school, there were rumors that I was anorexic or bulimic, but everyone who knew me knew that was far from the truth. I’m now 19, 5’2, and I still have yet to break 100 pounds on the scale. It seems that there is a lot of skinny shaming going around and to me, one of the main contributors to that is the Dove Real Beauty campaign.

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this because skinny girls get all the praise and other body types are neglected. That’s really not true, though. While loving other body types, you are tearing down skinny girls. Why is it okay to do that to skinny girls but not to other body types? Why is it okay to say “only dogs like bones” or say “every body type is beautiful” until you see a model's abs, or ribs, or thigh gap and then tear them down because they’re “unnaturally” skinny?



The point I’m trying to make is that, as a naturally skinny girl, I have never shamed anyone for their body type, yet I go every day and get at least two comments about my weight. I’m always the skinny girl, the toothpick, but I’m not Jessica. Yeah, I’m a size 00. Get over it. If you have an issue with my body and feel like my body is disgusting to you, don’t look at it. I know that I’m healthy and I don’t need your input when my body just naturally burns calories fast. I don’t have an eating disorder and never have. I am real beauty though, and I know that because I’m comfortable in my own skin. So maybe the real issue is that we as a society have been shoving certain body types down our daughters’ throats so they begin to romanticize models that have certain standards that they have to meet, who work hard for the bodies that they have, and are making a hell of a lot more money than most of the people discussing why they look emaciated while what they’re actually looking at is the photoshopped product.

I’m not going to apologize for being skinny when that is just how my body is, I can’t help it. So please, stop tearing my body down while trying to bring your body up. You can praise your body without shaming skinny girls. Shaming me for being thin does not make you better than the man that shamed your body, just as me shaming you for being curvy does not make me better than the man that shamed my body. As women, we need to love each other because we are the only ones who truly understand each other.


Cover Image Credit: Victoria's Secret Untouched

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'Taste The Rainbow' But Not Because Skittles Said To

The health benefits of eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables

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Does everyone know that fruits and vegetables are good for you, but do you know why they are considered to be nutritious?

Some may believe the answer is because they have low caloric value, which isn't wrong but they provide so much more. They possess phytochemicals.

Phytochemicals are naturally occurring compounds found in plant foods that provide the fruit and vegetables their color, taste, and odor. More than that, each phytochemical comes with its health benefits.

There are seven mechanisms of action or ways that phytochemicals are beneficial to our health.

They can either act as antioxidants which help to prevent damage to healthy cells, anti-inflammatory, chemo-preventative, support our immune system, trigger apoptosis or programmed cell death, protect our DNA, regulate hormones and finally, some may have the ability for specific actions, such as inhibiting the growth of bad bacteria.

Below is a list of phytochemicals:

1. Carotene 

Alpha and beta carotene give fruits and vegetables an orange or yellow color. Some examples of foods that are high in beta carotene are sweet potatoes, carrots, and bell peppers of those colors.

Carotene, when ingested, is converted into Vitamin A that your body can easily absorb and utilize. Carotene has been scientifically proven to help eye and heart health as well as support our immune system by acting as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and possessing chemo-preventive factors.

2. Lycopene 

Think tomatoes. The phytochemical lycopene is responsible for the red color in whole plant foods. The health effects are acting as antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, chemo-preventative but also good for DNA and urinary tract health. What's cool about lycopene is that no matter how you prepare your food, you don't lose any of the nutrients.

3. Chlorophyll 

Eat your greens. Chlorophyll-rich foods appear green. Some excellent sources include dark leafy greens and broccoli. Chlorophyll, like the other phytochemicals are known to be antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and chemo-preventative. Choosing foods that have a rich and vibrant color indicate that is a good source of that phytochemical.

So, next time you're in the produce aisle, be sure to choose your colors wisely.

4. Anthocyanin

Anthocyanins are those foods that are red, blue and purple. Any type of berry is an excellent source of antioxidants. Antioxidants combat damage to cells by helping balance those that are unstable. Cells become unsteady when they have an uneven pairing of protons and electrons so antioxidants essentially give an electron to the cells that need it.

5. Reservatrol

The color purple. Just as every phytochemical mentioned, resveratrol contains antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and chemo-preventative agents. That's the beauty of phytochemicals. Reservartrol also takes it a step further to help brain and bone health. Studies have proven that eating foods rich in resevatrol also help to protect against age-related diseases.

If you want to learn more about the health benefits of phytochemicals, please check out this wonderful book!

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