More than the actual anxiety was the anxiety about the anxiety. I felt tremendous shame for having negative feelings at all.
It was 3pm on a Tuesday, and I was sitting at my desk with my head on my keyboard; I was too revved up to sit still, much less concentrate on work. I was in the midst of a resurgence of my lifelong anxiety and couldn’t talk to anyone or even focus on anything. Months later, I would finally be diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
The diagnosis was a relief. It made sense of overwhelming feelings I’d had my whole life that had mostly been regarded as a character flaw. I grew up in an alcoholic home, and I’d been going to therapy for years to face the trauma of my childhood. For the first time I was feeling my emotions instead of mashing them down, and expressing anger before it turned into resentment. My anxiety had decreased throughout this process, but then I decided to get married. My fiance did nothing wrong, mind you, but somehow the thought of marriage made me feel trapped and put me mentally back in my childhood home. I grew incredibly anxious — and yet completely unaware of it.
I’d had trouble sleeping for months but I wasn’t upset or stressed about anything — at least not anything conscious. My stomach felt like it’d been glued shut. I couldn’t eat. Soon enough my weight starting dropping enough for other people to comment on it. Compliments at first that slowly morphed into expressions of concern. I felt nervous all the time and I was hyper-vigilant, no matter who I encountered or where I was. If I was in a car, I’d flinch at the sight of another vehicle pulling out of a parking space as though it was about to hit me — even if it was well outside my physical range. I was sleeping two hours a night and not even feeling tired the next day. Sitting still felt like torture, and I was constantly second guessing myself as if I couldn’t trust my perceptions. I’d had episodes like this off and on for most of my life but I’d always pushed it down. But now, after a lot of therapy and ACOA recovery work, when the anxiety attacks returned, I had to acknowledge them. My overwhelming anxiety was there and I couldn’t hide it no matter how badly I wanted to.
But that was the problem: I really really wanted to…
Generally, social media gets a bad rap when it comes to how it affects our mental health; however, Erica has more to say on how Facebook actually helped her deal with her Generalized Anxiety Disorder in the original article How Facebook Helped Me Overcome My Anxiety at The Fix.