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My Mental Health Journey: Living With Anxiety

{Throughout this article, I use certain words quite repetively, such as struggle. There’s no other word to describe my relationship with anxiety. A lot of these paragraphs are me rambling, because I don’t really have a point in writing this. Just sharing my real experiences, struggles, and life.}

My earliest memories are me running into my parent’s room in the middle of the night, paralyzed with fear as another nightmare has crept into my sleeping mind. Or crying for hours after youth group’s study of Revelations and the thought of the rapture happening- and being left behind. Or staying awake til 3am because I’m too scared to fall asleep. The fear of the unknown. The fear of losing control. The fear of losing someone. Losing myself. I only spent the night at someone’s house one time throughout junior high and high school, and not for lack of invites- I couldn’t be away from home. I’ve struggled every moment of my life and didn’t know why. 

It was subtle at times. In high school when things were going good- I was in love, had good grades, was captain of my softball team- I rarely had an episode. No one knew my struggles. I hid them well. Mostly because I was embarrassed. (My parents were very aware.) My anxiety didn’t reach it’s pinnacle level until after I got pregnant with my daughter. My husband and I were living in a tiny apartment in a not-so-great area. He left every morning at 2-3am for work. My anxiety was absolutely at it’s very worst. I didn’t feel like myself. I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t sleep. And what’s worse than that- I couldn’t tell anyone. I was far too embarrassed to tell my husband. The one person I could talk to was emotionally unavailable to me. I could feel myself slowly dwindling down. It got better once my daughter was born. She was an excellent distraction. But I still struggled and was hurting. When we moved into a better part of town I would still find excuses to get my siblings or Anthony’s siblings to spend the night. I couldn’t handle being alone at night. Just knowing someone was there in the other room helped immensely. I finally found the courage to tell my husband what I was struggling with every day and I’m not going to lie- it was hard. He didn’t understand and was uneducated on the subject. I tried my best to be open and honest about when I was feeling anxious but it mostly hurt our marriage because he thought it was preventable, if I just tried harder. 

It took a few long months before I found the right article to show my husband that could really explain my struggles. After reading it, he finally understood and made me feel human again by validating my feelings and struggles. A few days later, he suggested I go to the doctor to ask about medication for anxiety. Until that point, I was set on homeopathic remedies. Essential oils, baths, prayer, breathing exercises, writing, more prayer… But nothing had helped even a little. In the moment- sometimes. But nothing has helped long term, ever. I went to the doctor and was put on a medication called Ativan. It has helped immensely and I’m grateful for the push from my husband that helped me decide to seek medical attention for this disorder. 

Things or moments that have triggered me into an anxiety attack:

  • A movie
  • A show
  • A commercial
  • Plane noise over my house
  • Car noise
  • Any scary noise, really
  • Going to church
  • Going to the mall
  • Seeing a friend from high school
  • Someone talking about the end of the world 
  • Zombies. No seriously. 
  • Earthquakes (probably post-trauma anxiety from living in Northern Cali for 12 years)
  • Politics
  • How scary the world is
  • Thinking about my kids growing up in this world
  • My own mind. I can think myself into an anxiety attack in .0006 seconds. 
  • A thousand other things

Even to this day, it’s hard to speak about. I have family members that have looked me in the eye- as I’m pouring my heart out, almost in tears- tell me that they think it’s weird. That it’s all in my head. That I just need to pray harder. It kills me that they will never understand because they don’t care enough to try to understand. It’s not their problem, so they’d rather ignore it. When I say that I don’t watch scary movies- people make fun of me or make rude comments. People close to me talk about things that I’m absolutely terrified of, in front of me and don’t care that it causes anxiety or think it’s funny. One person even questioned my relationship with God, because if I was a “good Christian” or had a good relationship with God, I wouldn’t be so scared all the time or struggle with anxiety. 

Even now, on medicine and highly aware of my obstacles- I find myself in an amazing moment with my husband or kids and I can’t enjoy it because I’m paralyzed with fear. Luckily, this is happening less and less because I’ve forced myself to be in charge of my happiness and to enjoy moments and remember them for what they are. “Forcing myself” doesn’t always work, though. It differs every time. And I rarely say a thing when I’m struggling. Because the struggle could last a minute or it could last four hours. I never know what I’m in for until after it’s over. I find myself- to this day- hiding these moments from my husband and loved ones. It’s easier that way and I don’t want to burden them. Sometimes, if I’m up for hours at night and feel like I’m going to crumble or implode, I’ll reach out to a loved one via text. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t. 

I was shocked to read these statistics:

  1. 36% of people with anxiety experience it for 10 years without seeking help. 
  2. 20% of adolescents experience a mental health problem- most commonly anxiety or depression.
  3. 70% of people who commit suicide have an anxiety disorder. 

If you know or love someone who struggles with anxiety, I want to encourage you to educate yourself on the subject, starting with the pictures below. 

 

 

Also, these articles are amazing and I highly suggest reading them. 

This is the one my husband read with me.
This one is great, as well.
Also, for anyone wondering, I have generalized anxiety disorder, which is explained in the picture above. I wish I could give a happy ending to my story, but for me, the happy ending is that I’ve come to accept most of it and I’m reaching out for help when I can. (And I’m blessed that my husband now has an amazing job with normal hours and I get to sleep with him every night, giving me a better sense of safety.) I hope, in me writing this, I help at least one person understand a loved one, or help someone with anxiety know they’re not alone. 

Xo, Bethanie

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Zed Amadeo
    September 19, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    Thank you for sharing your experience with GAD. As someone who’s been struggling with OCD for about a decade now, I feel similarly about the “happy ending,” which has partially consisted of accepting that I have OCD, but also understanding that I have methods to help myself get through those days when my symptoms flare up. It is always extremely irritating and hurtful when people I’m close to treat me as though I’m just making everything up when this is a struggle that I go through everyday. I will take a look at those articles soon. It is a good feeling to know that we are not alone :)

  • Reply
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