I could not get this off my mind this morning so here it is. I was thinking about what to say to my doctor when she asks, “What makes you think you have an anxiety disorder?” because I know she’s likely to ask a variation of this when I next go in and ask if she or someone else has the ability to determine whether or not I have an actual disorder. I haven’t really wanted to know before, because to me, not knowing means not having to face it or the stigma that may come with it. But at the request of my best friend, I intend to ask at my next appointment, and I realized this morning that knowing what I may have will give me closure over it because then I won’t have to worry about what it is or read through a dozen different articles trying to figure out where my symptoms fit in.
I’m still very hesitant about seeing a therapist regularly only because I’m not sure I can afford it or if my insurance will cover it, and I already have problems talking to strangers about things I like, let alone my problems. On top of that, I’m very distrusting of doctors because so far, they have not given me a diagnosis or answer for something that I didn’t already know. When I went in to have my headaches checked out at the request of my mom, the doctor told me they were likely caused by stress at work, which I had told my mom a dozen times. A few weeks later when I had my first and only seizure, I went through a whole bunch of tests new to me, including an MRI, EEG, and EKG to see if they could find anything. Well, even with all those tests and blood work, the neurologist that I saw said he didn’t know why I had had that seizure. Quite honestly I had come to the conclusion that it was caused by me hitting my head when I fell.
So going in to possibly diagnosed with an anxiety disorder is daunting not only because I’m scared of the answer but also because I’m scared of being misdiagnosed or being told it’s nothing and to do such and such things to bring my anxiety levels down, which is something I’m already doing. Like little to no caffeine, regular exercise, and writing to empty the chaos in my head. Even little behavioral changes like trying to make small talk with the cashier at Wal-Mart or meeting new people one on one, or even just doing this blog to write out things I’ve never really put into words before and letting the feelings go so they don’t drag me down. I’m doing all of this now so I can avoid therapy in the future.
So here is what anxiety is to me. It’s having to make and know plans in advance so I can mentally prepare for that future event. Usually a week in advance is ideal, but I have made exceptions for last minute plans that were made a day in advance. It’s also replaying conversations in my head continuously trying to determine if I’ve said or done something wrong and overanalyzing everything to the point of feeling like everything I’ve ever done is wrong. It’s having to listen to music through headphones while grocery shopping in order to stay calm and focused enough to get everything I need as quickly as I can. It’s about avoiding people to stay home and chill where I know I’m going to be more comfortable anyway. It’s asking someone to make phone calls for me, especially for doctor’s appointments or talking to insurance people, because I get nauseous just thinking about it. It’s asking someone to go with me to a new place because I’m afraid of going by myself. It’s getting irrationally angry about something so insignificant it shouldn’t bother me, but it does, like channel flipping to avoid commercials or making noise just to make noise (like tapping a spoon against a glass bowl or screwing around with ringtones while I’m trying to listen to the tv). It’s about worrying unnecessarily over minor mistakes at work and the fear of being fired over something as small as a misspelled word.
All of these things, and some I haven’t mentioned, are what anxiety is to me. Everyone has different triggers but what we share is a fear we can’t control or sometimes even understand. And trying to explain it to someone who doesn’t have anxiety issues is like trying to explain why we exist. It’s impossible for them to fully comprehend our mental states, although there are a select few who really do try to be supportive and understanding (my mom is one of them). If you know someone who has anxiety, don’t be afraid to reach out to them, but let them come to you at their own pace as well. It’s hard to talk about and hard to trust someone with something so personal. And don’t try telling them to get over it or that they “should” do something just because it worked for someone else. We need to do what’s best for us and only we know what that is.