Mental Health Monday: General Anxiety Disorder

Mental Health Monday is a series that is meant to bring awareness to various mental health conditions, and to be a safe platform for those who wish to share their own personal stories to potentially help others. If you would like to become a contributor, please email your stories to Ashtyn at ashtynasay@gmail.com

Author: Kourtney Truesdell

Hi, I’m Kourtney. I am a junior in college, I love nature, dogs, and I am thrilled to be featured on Notes From Ash. I am here tell you a little bit about my journey with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) so maybe you can learn from my mistakes, and hopefully discover a better and brighter you.
I was not officially diagnosed until I was a junior in high school; however, my mother always suspected that something was wrong. I was intense, emotionally intuitive, and most of all an incredibly fearful child. She never fails to remind me of the time we went on a ride through the canyon near our home, and I started screaming because I was afraid of the dirt.
When I was 12 years old, I had my first panic attack. I was sitting in my room, ruminating about something stupid I had done, and all of a sudden, I felt a strange tightness in my chest. My heart began to race, and I broke out in a cold sweat. I could have sworn I felt my throat closing up leaving me with little room to breathe. I fell on my knees, and placed the top of my head on the ground between my legs. My arms clutching my chest, in a sort of tortured child’s pose. My brain felt hot, thoughts buzzing a mile a minute. I felt so small.
Instead of telling anyone about it, I  worried that my parents start mourning their dying daughter and rush me to the doctor (I was also incredibly afraid of doctors as a child). Therefore, I kept it to myself, and spent many a morning gripped with anything from mild worry to full blown panic attacks. I spent my nights telling my parents I loved them before slowly walking up the stairs to my bedroom, thinking that it would be my last sleep. Dramatic, I know, that is simply how I lived until I discovered that I wasn’t actually dying, and I just needed some extra help (which took a lot longer than it should have, but you know, hindsight is 20/20).
Anxiety disorders are incredibly common. They can happen at any time in your life, be long or short term, due to trauma or even nothing at all. Anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by feelings of dread, in situations that you perceive as dangerous, even if you are in no real danger. What sets it apart from normal feelings of anxiety is that it will negatively affect your life . Often, anxiety is also accompanied by co-occurring disorders, like depression. For me, when my anxiety is at its worst, I suffer from said panic attacks as previously mentioned. From mild to severe, what matters is that it can and will get better, if you are willing to get help. This is much harder than many realize, but I promise you can do it.
Readers, I beg you, do not do what I did. Even if you have the mildest suspicion that you have an anxiety disorder, go and talk to someone, and I highly recommend talking your doctor. Believe it or not, they want to help you. You do not deserve to live in pain, and there is hope. Whether they prescribe a medication, recommend therapy, or just give you some good tips, you will be better off. Keep in mind, what works for someone else may not work for you. In my life, here are some things that I have found help me.
• Practicing mindfulness
• Meditation
• Yoga
• Healthy diet
• Psychotherapy

Some other great options to consider:
• Medication
• Religious Practice
• Grounding exercises
• Biofeedback
I suggest you consider trying some/all of these treatments, to find what’s right for you. Listen to your doctor, listen to your body, and most importantly know that you are not alone. There are so many resources at your fingertips, you just have to reach out and grab them! Goodbye for now, and good luck.

Some helpful links:
https://adaa.org/
http://anxietyresourcecenter.org/resources/

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Kourtney Truesdell
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