“My General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) was one of the most frightening experiences of my life, but the depression, anxiety and panic attacks became the litmus test as to just how powerful I can be.”
Of course, in the depths of my despair, I couldn’t foresee any good ever coming from my illness. My symptoms seemingly came out of nowhere, but in lieu of one family tragedy after another; personal health issues; the unstable political, social and economic news broadcast from every corner of the globe thanks to our 24/7 tech; a growing precariousness at my job; no romantic life to speak of for use as a stress reliever and I can admit it now, my “glass-half-empty” outlook on life, I began to feel — figuratively speaking — strapped into the passenger side of a speeding car, heading downhill with no breaks and no driver. My crashing was just a matter of time.
My symptoms manifested themselves in four ways; physically, psychologically, emotionally and metaphysically. At the height of my disorder, these symptoms worked in tandem to create what I can only describe as a virtual, alternate reality. And I say ‘reality’ because during my worst panic attacks, when I had not a shred of evidence that I was in any actual danger, what I imagined as real was as tangible as the earth under my feet. I was constantly awaiting some big ‘happening’ that would end it all at any moment.
For those readers who’ve been following my blog, you know that my Mom died from complications due to breast cancer in 2008 and in 2012 one of my older sisters was diagnosed with the awful disease. I, of course became frightened for her, myself as well as for the rest of my sisters. Later I realized that I had become obsessed and depressed over the thought that cancer can still just waltz into our lives and destroy us once again.
Thank the Creator that my sister won her battle with cancer. It was around the end of 2014 that her oncologist declared her free after undergoing almost a year of treatment. It was at the start of the following year in 2015 that I got on my kick of attempting to eat only organic, raw foods and using natural products for my toiletries and household products. I was going to be preventive and not wait for any illness to come and claim me.
No more dinner from the takeout diner downstairs — who the hell knew how their food was being prepared. No more drinking tap water or using toothpaste with fluoride in it. Bottled water and toothpaste that looked and tasted like clay were their replacements. No more using deodorants with aluminum or bath soaps with dyes and sulfates. Not even my lipstick and eye shadows were safe from the scourge with their paraben, metaylparaben and phenoxyethanol toxins. The amount of possible carcinogens and poisons purposely added to our foods and so many other products are mind-boggling! After a good try, I just couldn’t keep up. I began eating as little as possible and was guzzling bottled water to try to satiate my hunger.
After awhile fear took the place of hunger and I hadn’t even noticed that I’d sometimes go a whole day barely eating. I often would eat just enough to get myself through my work day and back home again where I’d collapse on my couch in front the television to receive my nightly dose of bad news. It was a vicious cycle that I couldn’t escape from. In my mind I was saving myself, but I believe now that the reality was, I was trying to take myself out before I thought a disease, illness or the Apocalypse would. I did not want to die, but on the other hand, I couldn’t stand the idea of getting sick and dying. This type of rationale continued until I recovered fully by July of this year.
And yes, I did recover.
I have to stop here. Recalling my experience with a mental disorder is some rough, scary stuff. I surprise myself that I can sit here and write about it as if it happened to some other person. And in a way, that’s true. I am not the same person that I was before I got sick. Thank God for that in some ways.
Mental illnesses of all kinds require a lot more nationwide attention, research and funding for cures and proper diagnosing than its been getting in the past. My story is not unique by any stretch of the imagination. Millions suffer silently until their light is all but extinguished.
I will continue with my story of how I beat my GAD in forthcoming blogs because I think it’s a story worth telling. Especially if it can help someone see the light at the end of their tunnel.