Disclaimer: Each mental illness is different. And every person who has a mental illness experiences it in their own unique way. So even if two people have the same mental illness, they won’t experience it in 100% the same way. So the experiences I’m about to share with you are my own and do not reflect what everyone with Generalized Anxiety Disorder experiences. And I am not a medical professional. What you are about to read comes from a non-medical background. If you think you might have a mental illness of any sort, please contact a local medical professional. Thank you for your consideration.
December 2015. I was 19 and in my sophomore year of college. I was having problems remembering if I had done things like lock my car, roll up my car window, pack everything into my bag when leaving the library, etc. I would have this anxiety about whether or not I had done one of the things above. And I felt like I had to go back and check. Sometimes multiple times.
It had gotten to the point where I knew it was a problem and my mom was incredibly concerned.
So we decided that I was going to go to a psychiatrist to see what exactly was the matter. Over the course of a few appointments, the doctor assessed what was going through my mind. And eventually, she came to a diagnosis. She almost diagnosed me with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), but since I didn’t have a set number of times I had to go back and check things, she felt like that wasn’t the right fit. But she said that Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is what it was.
When I was initially diagnosed, I decided not to go to therapy or go on medication.
But the following February, I was having some chest pains. When I went to the primary care facility there in my college town, they basically came to the answer that it was anxiety related. So they put me on anti-anxiety medication. And I’ve remained on that medication ever since.
A couple of years later, I went to a different primary care provider. She decided to keep me on the same anti-anxiety medication while also adding an anti-depressant. And as of now, I’m still on both of these medications.
Over the years, the ways my anxiety has manifested itself have changed. Now, it’s not so much worrying that I locked my car or that I left something somewhere. It’s more of sometimes having anxiety about things that other people would think to be of no consequence.
And over the years, one thing seems to have remained the same: sometimes it’s difficult to get my worry under control, even though I know the levels are sometimes unwarranted.
And over time, I’ve been able to tell that my GAD is affecting my brain and life in other ways. The main thing that I’ve noticed is my difficulty concentrating and my brain’s having trouble staying in one place for very long. I’ve been tested for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), but according to my doctor, it’s just some anxiety symptoms that present similarly to ADD.
Even though I’ve had issues with GAD and it’s had an impact on my life, I’ve been able to keep fairly well under control and lead a fairly ‘normal’ life. And by that I mean that I’m able to function in society similarly to someone who doesn’t have a mental illness. While I have personal barriers that other people might not, I’m still capable to leading a fulfilling life if I so choose.
And this is something I want people without a mental illness to recognize: those of us with a mental illness are able to get by just fine if we take the proper precautions to keep our illness in check. Even though we may have to go about life a little bit differently, I’d say quite a few people with a mental illness (myself included) want to be giving the same respect as people who don’t have a mental illness.
Thank you for listening, and I hope this can positively affect at least one person’s perception of mental illnesses and the people who have them.