I’m not going to beat around the bush with this one.

I have officially been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

Wow. I said it. {Massive weight lifted.}

I suspect I have had it for a long time; perhaps my whole life. I can vividly recall as a young kid feeling anxious about seemingly ridiculous, mundane things. Somehow all of those little worries of my past and my present have pieced themselves together to make one complete puzzle. And that puzzle spells A-N-X-I-E-T-Y.

For months now I have felt like I am going fucking crazy. (Sorry I had to drop an F bomb there, but this post requires the full enchilada, so I’m going for it.) I have felt symptoms on and off for years, had a few panic attacks, and have basically suffered alone in silence.

For as long as I have been alive, I have been a really good girl. I did everything I was told to do and more. I lived my dad’s dream and got an Ivy League degree. I pushed myself to the brink and back. But even at my lowest, most stressed out moments, I forced my head above water. I never put much stock in the fact that I was worried all the time. I never dealt with my intense fear of failure. I brushed off the fact that I had constant stomachaches and would often be unable to eat due to intense nerves. I ignored every warning sign imaginable.

Denial.

Well, now I am an actual adult (whatever that means), or at least I am supposed to be. I have had issues transitioning. I have had worries about unmet expectations, and that same looming knot in my stomach, that voice in my head that tells me “you aren’t good enough”, always comes back. Although this time, it has come back with a vengeance.

At my wedding, I was a nervous wreck. I tried my best not to show it publicly, but my anxiety was spewing out the top of my head like a fountain. I couldn’t eat. Food made me want to vomit. I was lucky that I didn’t pass out during posed photos. Of course, there were several moments of joy, but also a lot of worry and nerves.

My physical health issues have basically made everything one hundred times worse. Yes, let’s tell a girl with a bad case of undiagnosed anxiety that she might have cancer. Then let’s tell her she needs surgery. After surgery, let’s ramp up her periods so that she thinks she might bleed out and die. And if she isn’t a hot enough mess by then, let’s tell her she needs to have a baby. When? Oh, I don’t know…NOW.

Yuck, that last paragraph was exhausting. But it is the absolute truth. My loyal readers know this, as I have written a lot about it.

Even after all my health dramas, I still didn’t want to ask for help. I was too proud. I would rather fall and possibly lose everything I had worked so hard for all of these years than reach for that outstretched hand; and admit that I couldn’t do it all on my own.

But then something interesting happened.

Last month was another month of trying to conceive. I had completely convinced myself that I was pregnant. This was IT. I was feeling all of the symptoms of pregnancy according to WebMD. I was victorious! Why I had it in my head that pregnancy was a cure-all for my every problem, I will never know. But whatever. Then I went to the bathroom, and I saw the ever-familiar pre-period spotting.

I totally broke down. I just couldn’t do it anymore. Twenty-something years of worries and anxiety came crashing down on my head. I felt like my heart actually broke in half, and got flushed down the toilet.

I hurt everywhere. Yet I picked myself up and tried to move forward, like the trooper I have always been. But my body told me “Enough is enough. We are done.” And I fell to the ground. Hard.

My heart took off racing, and wouldn’t stop for almost two weeks. I was having palpitations, extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, you name it. But still I persisted on. Finally my loved ones intervened and told me that this was crazy, and I needed to get help immediately.

L called my doctor for me. I was too anxious to even call my own doctor. I took a lot of deep breaths and had to have my mom drive me to her office. Never have I been so scared in my entire life.

As the door to the exam room opened, the words practically fell out of my mouth.

“I have a problem. Well, actually, I have a lot of problems.”

——–

Life throws you curve balls. Most of the time, you aren’t ready for them. I may get pregnant, I may not. I may have more bad days, I may not. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but for the first time in a long time, I am hopeful.

I am trying to get help for my problems. I am facing my fears, however irrational they may be to the “normal” person. It actually makes me kind of proud. Seeking treatment is something very new for me, but living with this disorder is not.

I am a person with a lot of worries. I am finally learning what a great release it is to say that and not feel bad about it.

I would be interested to read any of your experiences with anxiety and/or treatment for anxiety. Feel free to share. If you aren’t comfortable sharing publicly, you can always email me at carlysdreams at hotmail dot com.

thelessthandomesticgoddess

29 Comments

  1. Reply

    Ms. Teacher

    July 28, 2010

    Wow. I know personally how hard it is to share like that and how hard it is to try to deal with anxiety.
    I was diagnosed with panic attacks and an anxiety disorder in 10th grade.

    Things that helped: figuring out how to calm down from a panic attack including breathing techniques, going outside for fresh air, taking a walk/jog to get out the excess adrenaline.
    I saw a behavioral therapist that really helped. I also took anxiety medications for awhile but it took a bit to find the one that worked for me, and I had a really bad experience with one of the drugs so be cautious and have other people watch changes in you emotionally when taking new drugs. I eventually got rid of all my anxiety by seeing a hypnotherapist. I was really skeptical at first but I would talk to your doctor or therapist about seeing someone who does hypnosis. It saved my life. No lie.

    Please message me if you want to talk more. I am so sorry you are going through this. It isn't something I would wish on my worst enemy.
    Feel free to e-mail me scournoyer418@gmail.com.

    Good luck!

  2. Reply

    ens

    July 28, 2010

    Hi there – I'm not sure if i've commented on your blog but i've been following along now for a couple weeks.
    I just want to commend you for writing this post. I, too, was diagnosed with a socialized anxiety disorder. I can 100% relate to being a "good girl" following your parents dreams never, ever, taking a wrong turn. I'm proud of all of my accomplishments but at the same time I worried my way through most of them that i almost feel like a failure.
    As far as treatment goes, I have taken medication – which i don't think there is anything wrong with. Why is it ok to treat a heart condition with meds?? Anyhow – I have also gone to therapy. Therapy is hit or miss with me.. ive done it several different times with several different therapists. My last one was probably my favorite but I don't do well with the follow through.
    I've also found that self calming techniques work wonders as well. Taking really deep breaths, pushing your palms together and 30 min of exercise each day. It's amazing how much difference that makes for me.
    I had to smile about the comments regarding your wedding because I'm getting married in just 2 months and i'm basically freaking out. If i could have it my way, i would have absolutely no one there. At my bridal shower my hands were shaking while everyone stared at me opening presents. It was just terrible.

  3. Reply

    koritsimou

    July 28, 2010

    I just want to commend you for getting this out there (it can't have been easy; I understand what it's like to feel like you have to do it yourself and keep yourself going without help) and I'm so glad you feel like you've got hope in your future. You're a very nice person and you deserve a good life!

  4. Reply

    EmilyB

    July 28, 2010

    Wow, thank you for sharing something so personal. I'm sure this was not an easy post to write and you're very brave to put it all out there. My SIL was diagnosed w/ anxiety late last year and it's been interesting watching her deal with it. She's taking medication and like a previous poster said, there's been a bit of trial and error associated with it. I hope you're able to treat your anxiety so it doesn't affect your life so much. I can only imagine how crippling it must be. Thank you again for sharing.

  5. Reply

    Geek in Heels

    July 28, 2010

    Thanks for sharing β€” I know how hard it can be to put yourself out there.

    Your background seems similar to mine, except that in my case it led to depression. I would wholly recommend finding a good therapist asap…I have seen more than 10 different therapists in my lifetime, and I can tell you that a good therapist will make a HUGE difference. I'm not sure what types of anxiety meds are out there, but from my own experiences dealing with depression I have found that meds CAN be good, but they only deal with the symptom, not the cause. That's why finding a good therapist would be the first step I would take.

    I hope your path to recovery will be relatively easy, and that you will only come out a stronger person!

  6. Reply

    Chic 'n Cheap Living

    July 28, 2010

    Your strength is my aspiration. I have no magic words, just support and hugs if you need them.

  7. Reply

    -J.Darling

    July 28, 2010

    I can completely understand where you're at.

    My entire life, I have been known as "the good kid", "a trooper", etc. I never let ANYTHING get me down for long – at least not openly. People even noticed that I bounced back from my divorce with huge strides. No one saw me cry about it but my dog. My dog watched me sob through it several times, curled up in a ball. In fact, if it weren't for my dog, I probably wouldn't be alive right now. I know that sounds odd/funny, but if it weren't for knowing he needed me to get up in the morning, and if it weren't for my heavy sense of responsibility, I would have curled up in a ball and starved to death.

    I'm also great at beating myself up. To the point of where I was young (like 4th-6th grade), I entertained thoughts of sucide on a regular basis. Depression is putting it mildly.

    Just last night, I had a talk w/someone I love, and we discussed that I had emotionally backed off over the last few months. Because I was facing the possibility of basically a 5 yr death sentence, I didn't want to put them through that, so I backed off because I knew that the right thing to do would be to let this man and his family go if I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Now that we're fairly sure it's benign, I have to face the fall out of me backing away from people (and then being hurt/mad that no one is there to help me).

    My fear of being able to move forward still sometimes rules me. Sometimes I sabotage myself on a regular basis. But w/ some therapy, I learned to look outside myself a bit and that was a BIG help! She helped me see that – to someone on the outside looking in, you have everything they want. Your life is special and unique. It's easy to look at others and think they are "normal", but they are no more "normal" than you. But what society has put on us as "normal" sometimes is trying to squeeze a square peg into a round hole.

    Your life is unique. Your journey is unique. You have something to contribute.

    Hang in there.

  8. Reply

    Krista

    July 28, 2010

    Thanks for sharing. I hope things get better now. With counselling and/or drugs, I suspect things will change for the better. I can say this with experience – maybe I'll blog about it someday.

    Take care of yourself.

  9. Reply

    Sandy

    July 28, 2010

    You sound like the type of person who takes on all the burdens of those around you (from what you've shared about your family, etc)…now it's time to take care of yourself. I love the way you ended this post…you are such an amazing and strong person!

  10. Reply

    Linda

    July 28, 2010

    I have anxiety too. I've struggled with it all my life. I took meds (Paxil) for about a year to help me deal with it. I've been off the meds for 6 months. I still have issues but I'm learning to not let them spiral out of control. My hubby is wonderful at helping me calm down.
    Keep talking. I'll be here to listen.

  11. Reply

    Sugar

    July 28, 2010

    Carly- I am so sorry that you are going through this, but thank you for sharing. And it's great to hear that you are working through it- as best you can. I can relate to your words on being the good girl– I am just now realizing what my accomplishments mean to me, personally, and have gone to a behavioral therapist to change my way of thought. I've also started that 'adult' path to understand my moods and attitudes. It's hard. I commend you for sharing your story- since I have yet to be able to.

  12. Reply

    MayLove

    July 28, 2010

    Hang in there hun! I've dealt with anxiety and depression as long as I can remember, suffering severe panic attacks for two long periods in my life. Seeing a counselor did wonders. I know seeking help is hard but you did the right thing. Stress makes getting and staying pregnant very difficult, so this may help you with that as well. BEST OF LUCK! I hope you start to feel better soon!

  13. Reply

    Amber

    July 28, 2010

    Oh, Carly. I have no words for you. I hope you find what you are looking for, I really do.

  14. Reply

    My Dream Ring

    July 28, 2010

    Carly….you are not suffering alone that is for damn sure! I had my first panic attack when I was 17 and I thought it was the end of my life, that I was having a heart attack and that I was going to die. The doctor told my parents that it was just from the stress of cheerleading competitions, being a senior and the pressures of college. Deep down inside I knew it was something more, I had felt those feelings before but not to that extent. From then on I kind of suffered to myself and told no one. It has only gotten worse over the past 8 years and last year I was finally officially diagnosed with Severe Depression and anxiety disorder. It felt GREAT to know that I wasn't "crazy" and there was an actual diagnosis for what was happening.
    I commend you for being honest and sharing this. Just know that you're not the only one and it feels good to know that I don't suffer alone.
    We will be fine and learn to deal with it. I think that if you can try to de-stress yourself as much as you possibly can, a little baby will come your way. The pressure and stress of trying to conceive is probably just adding fuel to your fire. I'm sending good baby vibes your way! HUGS πŸ™‚

  15. Reply

    Cathleya

    July 28, 2010

    So brave of you to get help where and when you need it. I know that recognizing your problems (both yourself and professionally) will move you forward in such a positive way! Thank you for sharing your story with us… I hope it is therapeutic to know that you're not alone in the world!

  16. Reply

    mianpian.net

    July 28, 2010

    carly-girl,
    it may be part of your bigger health issue, anxiety is one of the symptoms of endo. i have it too!
    it seems like the end of the world to have to make a phone call (like today i've put off calling my boss and my apartment complex). and you worry about everything.
    i'm sorry that you're having to go through this, but i think that its wonderful that you've started on the process to help you deal with it.

  17. Reply

    Chicken Wing

    July 28, 2010

    You are amazing. That is all I can say. You go, mama!

  18. Reply

    Ali @ His Birdie's Nest

    July 28, 2010

    ((HUG)) You are amazing for sharing this. I have bouts of anxiety when my life gets really stressful and I remember having anxiety attacks when I was in elementary school. I didn't know what they were, but it felt like the world was rushing in on me and I didn't know what to do. I'm pretty sure the anxiety lead to my depression in college – when I was trying so hard to make everyone proud and couldn't keep my head above water.
    Now that I'm older I get mild attacks when I'm stressed, but it's mostly manifested in to a stomach condition where my stomach digestion actually slows down when I'm stressed. Nutty huh?

  19. Reply

    Katie

    July 28, 2010

    Hi there! I've been reading your blog for a while, but this is my first time commenting. I definitely understand where you are coming from. I've always been the overachiever, perfectionist, type a, worrying, stress ball first born, and I've paid the price that comes along with that lifestyle.

    In fact, my story (health wise) is very similar to yours. I was unbelievably stressed out leading up to our wedding. Some of this was beyond my control (moving, changing jobs, deployed family member, and tragedy at my alma mater), and some of it wasn't (feeling like I had to do everything perfectly for our wedding since I was a wedding planner). I'm pretty sure I used the wedding as a way to control all of the uncontrolables going on around me. 3 days after returning from our honeymoon I ended up in the severely sick in the hospital for a week. I know that it was a result of all the stress I put myself through.

    Unfortunately, I didn't get better after I was released from the hospital. I was passed off from doctor to doctor who couldn't understand why I had debilitating fatigue, nausea, acid reflux, body aches, dizziness, etc. 24/7. I was put on every medication under the sun, and tested for every disease known to mankind (seriously, I was even tested for vampire's disease). I suffered from every side effect each medication had. I finally started feeling so out of control that I began having horribly severe panic attacks. I wouldn't wish that feeling on my worst enemy.

    I finally decided that the traditional medical treatments were not for me. I felt that my doctors had stopped looking at my body as a whole, and could only see what they specialized in (this isn't against all doctors, just the ones I interacted with). I turned to a very skilled acupuncturist, who in a way became my doctor, nutritionist and therapist (I think therapy in some shape or form is essential to truly treat what is the problem). It hasn't been easy, and it certainly hasn't been the fastest way to a cure, but it has worked for me.

    Everyone is different though, and I would consider all options to find what you are most comfortable with. It sounds corny, but reminding yourself that there are so many people out there that have been through what you are going through kind of helps. Sometimes you can feel so alone because people don't talk about anxiety or depression, but always remind yourself that you are not πŸ™‚

  20. Reply

    writtenbliss

    July 29, 2010

    I've written a lot about my anxiety and its affect on my relationship over at Weddingbee, but I just wanted to chime in and say that I am so glad you are getting help. Medication and visiting a counselor have done wonders for me. I still have occasional anxiety, but it's rarely debilitating. I can get through days (weeks, even!) without crying or feeling like I'm going to die. Like you, I had lived with the anxiety my whole life. I may never be completely free of it, but at least I don't feel like I'm drowning in it anymore. Gchat me if you want to talk more. *hugs*

  21. Reply

    angrybeavermd

    July 29, 2010

    My prayers are with you! You are a strong and inspirational woman, so you will get through this. Thank you for sharing.

  22. Reply

    Stephanie

    July 29, 2010

    Wow, Carly. Tough post! I had to respond because I have anxiety as well, and I am, ahem, a therapist. I was in denial forever, despite knowing the symptoms, because I thought that therapists just should not get mental health disorders. You know, "why can't I fix myself?" and the self-loathing and blame that can go along with it. This also went with my need to be perfect. I hauled my butt to the doctor at the urging of my husband (then-boyfriend), and I saw a therapist of my own until I got my anxiety managed. I've also had IBS for most of my life, which is hugely associated with anxiety, so who really knows how long I dealt until I Just. Couldn't. Take. It. ANYMORE! I take 10 mg of Lexapro every day, and I have since February 14th, 2007. At some point (likely when I want to have a baby) I will have to go off it. Until then, the medication, counseling, exercise, and support combination has been a complete lifesaver for me. I hope you find what works for you.

  23. Reply

    thelessthandomesticgoddess

    July 29, 2010

    Wow, I am speechless at the overwhelming response to this post and to my situation. Thank you everyone who commented and emailed me. Your stories have moved me, inspired me, and made me cry. Your well wishes mean so much. I am thinking good thoughts for all of you as well.

    It felt really great to write this post. It is sad and hopeful, and SO my life right now. Take it or leave it. As several of you pointed out, mental illness and disorder are not openly discussed today. It is so easy to feel alone, ashamed, and hopeless. Your responses have definitely helped remind me that none of us are alone in this.

    Big hugs to all of you.

  24. Reply

    BigAppleNosh

    July 29, 2010

    You are a brave woman to write this post, and I admire your tenacity and willingness to turn for help when needed. I know that you will be helping a lot of people by sharing this. ((Hugs)).

  25. Reply

    honey my heart

    July 29, 2010

    sending you thoughts and positive energy. it takes a lot to recognize what you need and to seek help. i hope that you find clarity and for things to get better. you are a very strong person and have a lot of support in the blogosphere. thank you for sharing this.

  26. Reply

    wendy

    July 29, 2010

    thanks for sharing. i find some healing and respite. hugs! πŸ™‚

  27. Reply

    Becs

    July 30, 2010

    Anxiety sucks! I absolutely dreaded my wedding because when I am really anxious I get extremely nauseated. I was so scared I would get sick in front of everyone. I feel like I am always on edge. I am always worrying. We are currently TTC and I know my anxiety is messing everything up. I just had an anovulatory cycle and I am sure it has to do with all my anxiety (of course I had some crap happen this month that I couldn't prevent like my grandmother passing away).

    I know my anxiety is screwing up my life so I have resolved to make some changes. I am starting meditation and relaxation techniques every day. My husband never stresses and he is helping me out a lot.

    I am so sorry you are struggling with this. I think you will be surprised over how many other people are struggling with anxiety but are just too scared to speak up. Thanks for sharing and I hope you find some relief soon!

  28. Reply

    Kimberly Michelle

    August 9, 2010

    So I haven't gotten the chance to comment until now, but just wanted to share the love/hugs for dealing with this (esp. outloud and in public). Anxiety is such a horrible thing to deal with on your own, and I'm so happy you went to see a Dr. to know you're not odd/strange for having to cope with it!
    I had my first "breakdown" when I was in 7th grade, and I'll never forget that feeling of the floor falling out from under me for the first time. Just know there's hope and help out there on the other side! πŸ™‚

  29. Reply

    brooke @ claremont road

    August 13, 2010

    Carly… I am EXTREMELY late to the conversation, but I wanted to thank you for sharing something so immensely personal with us. While I've never been diagnosed with anxiety and I'm much better than I used to be, I'm pretty sure I could have definitely been diagnosed when I was younger. It's hard to put into words the feeling of thinking you're going to burst or crumble (or both), and I am so glad to hear that you're facing your anxiety head-on. You are amazing and you will beat that bee-yotch anxiety πŸ˜‰

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