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I started the series called, Power in the Story because of people like today’s guest. She is an incredible blogger but she is also an amazing person inside and out. She is one of my closest friends in the Blog Community and we communicate almost daily! Today, I want to introduce Kate from Kate Days a Week. On her blog she does reviews of different make up products and does how to posts.
But Kate has a story hidden behind the make up palettes and brushes. I think you will all agree that there is power in the story!
Power in the Story: The Dark Passenger
Hi, I’m Kate. Well, originally my name is Catherine, but you can spell it any way you want: OCD, ED, GAD. Today I’m going to talk about GAD: Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I’ve been suffering from anxiety all my life, but was officially diagnosed with GAD about 10 years ago. I like to call it my Dark Passenger because it follows me pretty much everywhere. It always casts a shadow on how I see life and how I live it.
Here’s an official definition from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America:
GAD affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population, in any given year. Women are twice as likely to be affected. The disorder comes on gradually and can begin across the life cycle, though the risk is highest between childhood and middle age. Although the exact cause of GAD is unknown, there is evidence that biological factors, family background, and life experiences, particularly stressful ones, play a role.
What Having GAD is Like:
There’s a long list of symptoms for GAD, but here are the ones that I suffer from on a daily basis:
- Excessive worry/inability to set aside or let go of a worry: This goes beyond worrying about work or money (not that it’s not valid to worry about work or money). It’s a constant worry (usually extremely unrealistic) that eats at you day in day out.
- My GAD tends to be very focused on health, so I’ll spend hours investigating conditions that I think I might have. Let’s use a real-life example… A few months ago, I had a vague pain in the left upper part of my stomach. After spending hours online looking up symptoms, I came to the conclusion that my spleen was swollen. My conclusion was based on zero experience, facts or common sense. For the next few days, I harassed my boyfriend and close friends about it. I could hardly walk without holding my stomach in pain (although it didn’t realistically hurt that much). Eventually, after a few weeks of agonizing worry (and mild pain), I went to see the doctor. She told me it was probably just a lump of fat (which isn’t surprising on my body, heh) and it was totally benign. As soon as I stepped out of her office, the pain had gone. The next day when I woke up, it was still gone, but I was having difficulty breathing.
- That’s how my GAD works: as soon as I manage to rationalize a worry and get it under control, another one takes its place. It’s an endless battle against my mind, and my mind will go to great lengths to deceive me! Examples of conditions I’ve thought I had: heart failure, heart attack, thrombosis in my throat (yes, I know), thrombosis in my leg, brain tumor, broken knee, lung edema, colon cancer. This list is non-exhaustive.
- Muscle tension and headaches: I’ve been having headaches since I was child. They are caused by the fact that all the muscles in my upper back and my neck are constantly contracted. Lately, I’ve been having headaches almost every day.
- Tiredness, trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
- Overthinking plans and solutions to all possible worst-case scenarios: if I have to leave the house for the evening, I’ll usually lock all the doors (outside *and* inside), leave lights on, leave the radio on, turn on the security cameras and check five times that I’ve locked every door (my OCD sometimes overlaps my GAD for added pleasure).
- Persistent worrying or anxiety about a number of areas that are out of proportion to the impact of the events: if I don’t do all those things, I’ll spend the evening worrying that when I get home I’ll find my house has been burgled and that my dogs have been killed by the burglars (and I can visualize that very vividly).
- Difficulty handling uncertainty: it drives me absolutely bonkers when people tell me we will “go with the flow” or “see where the day takes us.” I can’t deal with that. I need to mentally prepare for every possibility. Leaving nothing to chance and I find it really difficult to accept that things can happen out of the blue. I need to know when I’m leaving and where I’m going. Usually, I’ll drive everywhere so that I don’t have to depend on anyone’s good will to get me the heck home.
- Difficulty concentrating: it has actually taken me a week to write this post.
- Perfectionism/lack of self-confidence: I’m going to proof-read this post probably 20 times before I send it to Jennifer and tell her that it’s mediocre and that I’m sorry.
The Flip Side:
Because, you know, silver linings, etc. I’m thankful for my anxiety because:
- I’m very reliable. I can’t bear the thought of disappointing people (or myself) so if I give you my word that I’ll do something, I’ll do it over my neighbor’s dead body.
- I’m a perfectionist: I do everything meticulously: my job, my blog, my life.
- I’m super punctual because I love the idea of controlling time.
- My house is always spotless and tidy.
- You’re always safe with me: I’ve already imagined 45 ways we could die on our shopping spree, so if anything happens, I’ll most likely be prepared for it and I’ll handle the situation with the greatest composure. Also, if you’re feeling under the weather, rest assured: I carry at least 15 different medicines in my handbag at all times. You name it, I have it.
My Tips for Handling GAD:
GAD is not a disorder you can self-diagnose but if you’ve recognized yourself in these symptoms, it might be a good idea to have a little chat with your doctor.
I’m definitely not the most successful GAD sufferer on the planet, but these are things that I’ve noticed have helped me along the way:
- Acceptance: the first step to fighting anxiety is to actually accept it as a part of who you are. It’s not an enemy. It’s you, and you need TLC, not aggression.
- Self-care: I have to confess that I’m a Grinch and that reading about self-care everywhere sometimes irritates me, but if I’m honest, it’s really what it boils down to. I’ve noticed that taking the following steps makes me feel better overall:
- doing exercise
- eating healthily
- taking time for myself
- being able to say ‘no’ when I don’t want to do something, go somewhere or see someone (as an introverted person, it’s usually the latter).
- Tell people around you: Anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of and, again, it’s part of who you are. Your loved ones probably already know you’re the anxious type, so why not tell them about your condition? If you’d broken your arm, would you try to hide it from them?
- See a therapist if you feel that you need outside help: I’ve had both good and bad experiences with therapists. I have noticed that it might take time before you actually find someone that you click with. If it doesn’t work out the first time, don’t lose hope and try to find someone else. Therapist Charming is out there.
I’d like to thank Jennifer for giving me this opportunity to talk about my GAD. It’s the first time I’ve written something like this (reviewing eyeshadow palettes is much easier) and I hope that it was useful. If you have any questions, need someone to talk to or suspect you might suffer from GAD but are afraid of telling your doctor right away, you can get in touch with me.
I am sure that you can see the Power in the Story as Kate shared with us about GAD. I must let you know that she did worry over this and she did proofread and message me about it.
Her story is powerful and I am honored that she chose my blog to share this for the first time. I am positive that a lot of people will be able to relate to her story.
Please visit her blog and social media and let her know that you saw her post on The Frozen Mind!
As you can agree, there is Power in the Story!
Similar Post: Power in the Story: Jen from Pedaling to the Wedding