Saturday, March 19, 2011

GAD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, is what the medical community calls anxiety. When I tell people I have anxiety I often get the question, "What kind of things are you scared of or worried about?" My answer is, "Not a whole lot." That's because the symptoms I experience aren't what people typically think of regarding anxiety, but they are common none the less. 

Here are some symptoms of GAD as outlined by the Mayo Clinic.

Generalized anxiety disorder symptoms can vary in combination and severity. They can include:

Constant worrying or obsession about small or large concerns
Restlessness and feeling keyed up or on edge
Difficulty concentrating or your mind "going blank"
Muscle tension or muscle aches
Trembling, feeling twitchy or being easily startled
Trouble sleeping
Sweating, nausea or diarrhea
Shortness of breath or rapid heartbeat

The first one listed is what most people think of when the word "anxiety" comes to mind. There are many people who constantly worry and obsess about things, but for me, that's not the case. In fact, outside of normal concerns, I don't worry that much. I'm also really good in emergency situations.

My symptoms revolve around trouble sleeping, irritability, and fatigue. I also feel restless and on edge during certain circumstances and sometimes I experience my heart beating rapidly.

It's easiest for me to wrap my mind around why I sometimes feel irritable and fatigued. Naturally, no sleep can equal being cranky and tired. But, it's the restlessness and inability to just relax that don't make sense. Even more nonsensical are the times I feel this restlessness. Let me give you an example.

The night before I'm going to fly out of town, I can't sleep and I'm on edge the whole time I'm getting ready to go to the airport. I'm not relaxed until I'm through security and sitting waiting to board the plane. I'm not the least bit scared of flying and, though missing my flight would stink, I'm not scared of missing my flight. For some reason, my body goes into sensory overload and puts all my nerves on high alert preventing me from calming down. It's so annoying because my mind is being logical, but my body won't listen.

When the Commander was born, I went 72 hours without sleeping. The 24 hours before I went to the hospital to be induced, I couldn't sleep due to pregnancy discomforts, but also because my body knew something out of the norm was going to happen the next day. I wasn't at all scared or nervous about labor, my body just went into high alert again.

After he was born, my body stayed very keyed up. I spent the whole time in the hospital unable to sleep. At one point the nurse gave me a very strong sedative, and I still couldn't sleep. That is how alert anxiety makes me. It is a very horrible feeling to be so exhausted, but not be able to sleep because your own body won't let you.

I love the explanation that stress is caused by an existing stress-causing factor a "stressor." Anxiety is stress that occurs even after the stressor is gone. It's so true. Anxiety is stress that hangs on for no good reason.

I also get edgy when we rush around as a family trying to get ready in a hurry and when I have very little control over circumstances surrounding me. When I am edgy, I'm likely to be irritable and snap at everyone around me, which is not pretty.

My medication helps me keep a lot of these symptoms in check, at least at a manageable level and I've also learned to work around the symptoms. I very rarely fly in the mornings. I prefer to fly in the afternoon so I have plenty of time to get ready and not have to hurry to the airport.

The night before my family and I have somewhere to go in the morning, like church, I try to lay out clothes so that we aren't rushing to find missing socks, etc. Being prepared also allows me sleep better.

There are some circumstances I can't control, and those are the times I have to just grin and bare it. Like having a new baby (Yeah, talk about unpredictable and uncontrollable:). Thankfully, I have a couple bits of important knowledge that help me tremendously. The knowledge that I've done it twice before and I can do it again. Also, time goes oh so quickly and is very precious.

Oh wait! I thought of another important tip. Eat Graeters ice cream. For my Utah friends/friends in the west who used to live in the Cincinnati area and miss their Graeters fix, they sell it at Smith's. It's by our friends Ben and Jerry and Haagen Daz. For those of you unfamiliar with Graeters, take a trip to Smith's and get the black raspberry chocolate chip flavor (It's more like chocolate bricks instead of chips). Guaranteed to lower anxiety:). It's even better than Aggie ice cream (Them's fighten' words!).

Another anxiety reliever would be to participate in the DHBH book club. Next Saturday I will start a discussion on the first section of our first book, Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas. So, comment below or on the DHBH facebook page by saying "I'm in" and go get your book today! Also, invite your book loving friends.

I've challenged you to go get some yummy ice cream and a great book. This is good stuff people. Hope you have a relaxing weekend.

All my love,

1 comment:

  1. I completely get the airport thing! i'm not afraid of flying either but the last time i did i couldn't sleep the night before and i ended up throwing up in the security line! GAD sucks!


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