Generalized Anxiety, Like a Dark and Winding Road

Did you ever wake up one day and realize it’s been a week or more since you experienced chronic anxiety or a panic attack?

Tonight I shed a lot of tears. I was doing a bit of reflection and realized there was a time when I felt a glimmer of hope because I had been free from the chains of chronic anxiety along with panic attacks for weeks at a time in my 40’s. I thought possibly my anxiety was dissipating. I was wrong.

Once I hit menopause, it seems my generalized anxiety became not only a visitor but a permanent resident residing within me. I held on to hope that once I hit a certain stage during menopause, my anxiety disorder would lighten up again. Wrong.

I look back on the progress I felt I was finally making during my 40’s and it feels like grief at this time. I grieve for the person I thought I was becoming, I grieve for all that I’m missing out on in life because, generalized anxiety disorder makes you feel like a prisoner in your own body.

I developed agoraphobia, it’s hard for me to leave my home. I won’t leave if I don’t have to and when I do have to go somewhere, I can barely function days or weeks leading up to an out of town gathering- that includes getting together with my immediate family… seriously, how pathetic is that? My biggest fear of leaving home (or not being close to my home), I won’t be able to hide my anxiety or I may have a panic attack.

My panic attacks consist of feeling dizzy which many times leads to vertigo and I feel as though I’m going to pass out. Knowing all the symptoms I develop causes pre-anticipatory anxiety, so it becomes a vicious cycle.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been able to write because my thoughts seem scattered and I feel like I have brain fog. It’s exhausting to fight daily in order to try and function. My mind has been like a blank page for too long now with the exception of chronic, intrusive thoughts.

I also realize that I’ve put my health on the back burner the past year or so because my husband has been ill. Somehow, I’m able to pull it together in order to make it to all of his appointments which happen to be at UPMC- Pittsburgh. I won’t say I don’t become highly anxious before we leave because I sure do. I not only worry about not feeling well but I also worry about waking up early for his appointments. I have insomnia as well and it’s very hard for me to get up early. I’ve found that if I don’t get enough sleep, I will end up having a panic attack or trying to ward one off at some point during the day.

My husband has been diagnosed with more than one health issue over the past year or more. The health issues he has are serious. I find myself worrying about him a lot and I feel this strong desire to try and fix things for him even though I understand, I’m just helping- I can’t fix or wish his illnesses away. My brain is always in over drive and I’m sure that creates the perfect storm.

I see my Psychiatrist about every 3 months. I’m always hoping they will have come up with a new treatment for people who suffer from generalized anxiety with panic disorder but it hasn’t happened yet. I had genomic testing done because I have been unable to tolerate SSRI’s and SNRI’s over the years. My doctor was hoping I could because they can help to reduce the symptoms in many people. My testing came back and almost every drug was in what he called the extreme category. So, my doctor said, “let’s just keep doing what we are doing.” I have to depend on anti-anxiety medication unless they have a break through with a new medication that targets a different part of the brain.

I was also going for Counseling on a regular basis until my insurance renewed last year and I found out my copays were 80.00 per visit. I can’t afford that, so I go when I am able to. I wonder how many people miss out on the proper therapy due to the high cost of copays? I feel highly frustrated that I’m not able to get counseling on a regular basis. I feel angry that it seems as though Mental Health Disorders are still looked at as insignificant in comparison to a physical disorder. This frustration leads me right back to feeling the stigma Mental Health patients experience.

Today I feel hopeless but I know that these feelings come and go. My goal is to keep my eye on the research they are doing and if something new is introduced, I hope it’s something that targets the chemical messengers within the brain so that not only myself but the many people who suffer from this illness may feel well and live life to it’s fullest.

Generalized anxiety with panic disorder causes one to lose hope over time. This also leads to depression which makes it hard to look forward to the pleasures others look forward to, those of us who suffer, feel fearful which removes the feeling of pleasure when it comes to doing things people without this illness take for granted.

I plan to show this article to my Counselor this week, because I’ve found I leave a lot out once I arrive for my appointment. I know this is so simple and maybe many of you do this- but I need to keep a diary of what I’m feeling, how often I have panic attacks, what’s going on that may have led up to a day that is worse than others and make sure to be totally open.

Do you find it hard to be open with your Counselor or Doctor at times? I hate to admit there are still times after all these years of seeing medical professionals that I hold back for some reason? Maybe subconsciously, some of us do that thinking, “I don’t wan’t them to think I’m completely nuts.”

Again, the stigma… holding back because they may think I’m completely nuts? Yes, that’s what the stigma of Mental illness does to the mind, we want to appear normal since we feel so abnormal on the inside, we don’t want to be judged but we need to keep in mind, they are there to help us, not judge us. I need to keep that in mind.

It’s tough to get help if I’m unable to be fully honest and stop stigmatizing myself. To hell with what others think, right? I think I will keep repeating that until I believe it. Oddly, I do believe all of what I mentioned when it comes to others, it’s just hard to be objective when it comes to ourselves.

Writer with a personal interest in Mental Health & Wellness. Writing with a mission: End the labels. Photography is my hobby, life is my passion.

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