Hello mental health champions, how are you doing?
I feel like it’s been so long since I last made a blog post but I have been so busy! I hope you are all doing so well and enjoying the increasing temperatures and getting outside! Today I wanted to talk about a recent diagnosis I have received (as if I didn’t have enough already)! So as many of you that follow me know, I saw a psychiatrist for the first time, EVER, a couple weeks ago. Since then, I have been continuing with therapy and I now have a prescription to take for anxiety as needed. So far it has been a blessing with no side effects and just a great tool I have for really bad anxiety days. However, in meeting with the Psychiatrist, she evaluated me for other possible disorders and basically gave a second opinion to the opinion my therapist had previously given me. We dug a little deeper and she came up with the conclusion that I may not even have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, but may actually have a strong case of PTSD. At first, none of what she was saying seemed to make sense to me. Since about 7th grade, I always just thought I had anxiety.
However, through my talk with the psychiatrist, she was able to pick up on the realization that all of my current anxiety is there because of situations or events from my past. The more that I thought about it, the more it made sense. It was true that most of my anxiety comes from health issues. I have MAJOR health anxiety and I genuinely think it’s because I have been through so many tough health issues. I have IBS, suspected Endometriosis, Asthma&Allergies, and since Covid, heart issues and Chronic Bronchitis. I’ve also had 11ish ear surgeries, tonsils and adenoids removed, sinus surgery, and gallbladder removal.
I had so many experiences of passing out in public settings, writhing in stomach cramps, and missing work and school. I’ve had asthma episodes that also landed me in the hospital. All of these situations and health concerns have been a burden to carry. Still to this day, I have a massive fear around events and not being in control because of this past of mine. I have had many times where I get massive anxiety and panic going to events with people or vacation because I am so scared that I will get sick. I have the fear of being alone when I’m sick. I have had to get over that one pretty quick this year when I’ve had to go to the hospital 4 times by myself because of no visitors. But, I still just have this fear that I will get sick and inconvenience people. I also have the fear of missing out, yes FOMO. But for me, it’s a lot more than just FOMO. For me, it’s being scared and upset that everyone else’s lives will continue to move on, even if I’m sick and struggling. Unfortunately, that’s just life and when you’re sick, it can be hard to not get seriously depressed when you can’t do things you want to because of your illness. I have so much baggage when it comes to my health and it can be hard not to always just panic and take your brain to the worse. I used to always just assume I’d be sick or convinced myself that I was sick so that I wouldn’t go to an event and “ruin it for everyone”. It’s a very real fear and anxiety point. I think it is so hard too when you have health related anxiety because a lot of times symptoms can manifest from your anxiety that can make you feel sick. It becomes like this awful cycle of being so worried that you’re going to be sick that you end up manifesting and releasing your anxiety in physical symptoms. It’s subconscious, but it can also be so confusing and misleading. Many times, I have felt so badly that I convinced myself I was dying. I just always thought that when I would get super sick, I would just die. That very real fear of death stays with you. That fear hangs around in your mind and can manifest insane anxiety.
Besides the PTSD surrounding my own illnesses, I also have PTSD from past relationships where trust was broken. I have a very real fear of abandonment and many times, I would try to push people away so that I could hurt them before they hurt me. I still have issues trusting to this day and I know that in situations where my trust is broken, I experience severe anxiety and even panic attacks. I know that I can trace that anxiety back to when I was in a relationship and lied to for a year. That trauma doesn’t just disappear.
I also have trauma from when my mom was sick and once again that fear of death lingering everyday. People don’t always realize how chronic conditions can get to the point where they can be deadly. When you have the fear everyday that you’re going to lose the one person you love most, it messes you up. I honestly feel like life and death situations have always just been a recurrent thing in my life and when you are constantly living in life or death situations, it can be hard to stop that cycle of life. To me, it just feels like surviving. You spend so much time just trying to survive that when the storm blows over, you have no idea how to not live in a state of panic. In such a weird way, I felt like I was more comfortable living in panic because it was what I grew accustomed to. It is a very real thing that a lot of PTSD survivors have. Just like anything else, we get comfortable in our life, even if that life is chaotic, hard, and exhausting. For many years after my mom got better, I would almost try to create issues because I didn’t know how to live in a situation that wasn’t survival based.
This survival mindset is what led me to catastrophize situations. Any normal day to day issue, I immediately assumed that it was the worst case scenario and everything was life or death for me because that was what I was comfortable with. It has taken years and years to break that practice and last year made it a million times worse because of our horrific deal with Covid. I genuinely feel like my family and I lost a year of our life. And yes, I know everyone did in some senses, but many people’s lives were changed so that they could stay safe. Our life changed to survive the virus and still to this day, deal with the horrific physical aftermath it had on us. I couldn’t relax for a whole year. I still am battling everyday with massive breathing and cough issues along with heart problems. But y’all, my momma’s a fighter!
If there is anyone out there reading this and feeling a similar way, the way that I helped to stop catastrophizing to the highest extent has a lot to do with medication. I was on Lexapro and it really helped remove all of my anxiety. When I had to stop Lexapro, my anxiety was a million times better. I felt like I learned with that medication that it’s possible to not catastrophize. I learned that I don’t have to live in a current state of panic. I don’t have to torture myself with the “what ifs”. I think this had a lot to do with just acceptance. I accepted that my health will never be perfect like so many other blessed people. I accepted that I was missing out on life because of “what ifs” that generally never happened. I learned to handle my health issues and not treat them like a death sentence. I taught myself to cope with the symptoms and do all the things I could to feel as good as I can. I learned that having anxiety about it won’t make anything go away. It won’t cure me. I learned that I don’t have to give up my whole life for a chronic condition. I can take days off when I feel bad. I can take my medicines and still go out. I don’t have to lock myself in my room and say I’m sick because of one symptom.
Now please note, I am not talking about viral or bacterial infections. I am only talking about chronic diagnosed conditions. But I used to literally think that because I had one bad coughing attack from my asthma in a day, that it meant I can’t leave my house because I was in fear of something happening in public. I then realized, so what? So FUCKING WHAT? What does it matter if I still go out and not let my illness control me? If I have an asthma attack, guess what? I will call an ambulance to the damn store then. I think with illness it just gets to a point where you know you’re not 100% the most comfortable in your body but you can try to still live your life and make the best of it. Having that mindset seriously changed my anxiety tremendously. I lately have rarely worried about things regarding my health. I know this post touched on a lot of things but I thought it was necessary. I love you all so much and I am so blessed to have such a great support system.
Talk to you soon brain battlers, Gracie <3
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The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.