I’ve always been a worrier, but the older I’ve gotten, the tougher I’ve found it to deal with this feeling of uneasiness lurking inside of me. Having GAD (general anxiety disorder) means that I often find social interactions insurmountable, not to mention having to speak up in work meetings. The intense fear lying inside me seems to eat away at my insides whenever I’m called up to give my opinion. Being a naturally nervous person, it took me years to build up the courage to get a diagnosis and put a label on these irrational feelings, so I've decided to share the symptoms that finally confirmed I needed to see a professional.
5 Symptoms that confirmed my anxiety disorder
Do you think you're like me? Here are the signs you could be;
1) I worry about absolutely everything
When I leave the house every morning, I spend my whole commute worrying about whether or not I unplugged my straightening iron, despite knowing I definitely have. I stress myself out about driving to new places even though I’ve been driving for over 10 years. Even meeting a neighbor in the elevator is a source of fear for me!
Yep, that’s right, I constantly analyze risk factors that probably aren’t even there and mull them over to the point where I can make myself feel physically ill. Nothing I do is stress free and I always feel wound up and tense. Relaxation is definitely out of the question where I’m concerned and the worst thing is that I can never seem to just switch off. With the amount I worry, it’s a wonder that my hair hasn’t gone completely grey yet!
I envy those people who take life as it comes and live in the moment because unfortunately, this is something I’ll never be able to do. Spontaneity is probably my worst enemy, yet I have to confess that seeing other people live completely worry free makes me jealous.
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2) I feel restless 24/7
When I went to my first ever job interview, I hadn’t slept for 48 hours beforehand. My nerves were so out of control that I just couldn’t sit still and concentrate for more than a minute. Looking back, I don’t even know how I got to the interview because I was literally running on caffeine and fighting the urge to run away whilst listing my past professional experiences. Plus, I was so tense that my muscles literally felt like they were about to explode beneath my skin.
It’ll come as no surprise to you that I didn’t get the job in the end… Although the experience was definitely daunting, it prompted me to admit my truth. A truth that I’d known for years, yet was still too scared to accept. Was that because I scared of feeling judged or afraid of being mocked? Who knows...?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 74% of people with anxiety disorders say that restlessness is their main symptom and I can definitely see where they are coming from!
3) I avoid social situations like the plague
You’ll definitely never catch my going for drinks after work, not even during happy hour! The truth is the idea of having to meet new people and socialize terrorizes me. I’ve never been much of a conversationalist, because the thought of not knowing what questions to ask or what subjects to evoke scare the life out of me! Looking foolish or feeling embarrassed are synonyms of my worst nightmare and situations that my brain just doesn’t feel equipped to handle.
I’m definitely an introvert and like to keep my circle of friends small and private. I’m definitely guilty of being that friend who always gets called into an unexpected urgent work meeting at 6pm on a Friday evening meaning I have to cancel… Well, that’s not strictly true, but anything goes when it comes to getting out of situations that could possibly involve meeting new people, right?!
4) I suffer regular panic attacks
Sweaty palms, the shakes, nausea, chest pains and an increased heartbeat are feelings I know all too well. These overwhelming sensations are one of the main symptoms of anxiety and can be so intense that they make us believe we are dying. Suffering from a panic disorder can be very scary, but we get used to the cocktail of fear and debilitation, yet they are utterly unpredictable and can come upon us at any given moment. No matter how many times we’ve been through them, the physical effects never seem to get easier or become any more tolerable for that matter.
The worst panic attack I’ve ever had was when my first boyfriend told me that he was breaking up with me. At that point, I didn’t realize I had any specific phobias, yet I think the fear of being abandoned acted as a trigger for me. That’s the only way I can rationalize this violently painful feeling that seemed to pierce my stomach and chest simultaneously.
>>> Read up on the symptoms and causes of panic attacks <<<
5) I have the worst time sleeping
My sleep pattern is just awful, there’s no other word for it… I verge on insomnia and despite all the changes I’ve made to my evening routine, nothing seems to help me. I could literally only dream of getting the full 8 hours as recommended. I’ve given everything a go, from banning my phone and all screens 2 hours before bed, giving up caffeine and tea in the evening and even invested in expensive pillows and bed fixtures, but nothing works. Counting sheep is useless when my worries and overthinking tendencies oppress me and follow me to bed at night.
Editor’s opinion: You’re not alone in your battle
There are many different types of anxiety disorders and each of them is as intimidating as the next, but that’s not to say you should let them get the better of you. Dealing with such disorders requires incredible strength, but you must know that you are not alone and that there are support groups out there if you ever need to help and talk. Reaching out is an effective way to deal with anxiety and will soon show you that you don’t have anything to be ashamed of.
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