Living with General Anxiety Disorder & PTSD

Recently I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety disorder as well as PTSD (complex). For those who do not know what generalized anxiety disorder is, it is when someone is a constant anxious worrier and find it difficult to control their worry, this disorder interferes with day to day activities. Some symptoms of this disorder include over thinking plans and solutions to all the possible worst case outcomes, perceiving situations and events as threatening even when they are not, and difficulty concentrating or the feeling that your mind goes blank (Generalized Anxiety Disorder – Symptoms and Causes, 2017). General anxiety disorder of GAD affects 6.8 million adults or 3.1% of the U.S. population in any given year, and women are twice as likely than men to be affected…people living with GAD can function socially, be fully employed and live full meaningful lives (Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA, n.d.). It is important to note that everyone gets anxiety that’s normal, and for those who read this and start thinking just because you may experience some of these symptoms that you may have this disorder please DO NOT self-diagnose. I have a licensed therapist who along with a colleague confirmed my diagnosis.

Along with GAD I also have PTSD which is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD is most associated with veterans who have seen or experienced a traumatic event, war, death, or a serious accident but is not limited to our war heroes only. According to the American Psychiatric Association, PTSD can occur in all ethnicities, nationalities, and cultures as well as at any age…3.5% of U.S. adults are affected annually and woman are twice as likely to be diagnosed with this disorder than men (What Is PTSD?, n.d.) Some symptoms are intrusive thoughts meaning repeated flashbacks, avoidance of people, and things that may trigger the distressing memories.

Since finding out about my mental health diagnosis I have selected to take an alternative (holistic) method as it pertains to medication. I was able to ask an amazing phycologist who referred me to two great holistic medications and offered to help me get the medication. I must admit that it has been extremely challenging dealing with these two illnesses especially during this chaotic period in time. I wanted to take the time and encourage those who may have the same diagnosis as I do, who have to face each day strategically as it pertains to learning what triggers you, what copping skills are you currently using, as well as who you can and cannot have around you. My therapist advised me to move away from people who have caused me any kind of distress and told me that if I have to engage in any interaction with these people that I would have to keep it to a minimum and be ready to let whatever foolishness that may come out of someone’s mouth roll right off my back.

I am learning more about myself and learning from past decisions that led up to this point. I have learned to let go and let things be and with the help of God as well as positive, constructive, and loving friendships that support me I am able to grow and learn more about life, forgiveness, love, and the use of proper coping skills.  So, for those who may read this and either have the same life issue or know someone who battles these same issues, always remember the scripture in Matthew 11:28-32 it is a scripture that is frequently quoted for those of us who worry and may not know the best way to let go of that worry. When I am experiencing anxiety I read that scripture and place my faith in God and trust that when I am feeling tightness in my chest and the very breath that I breathe becomes faint and difficult I know that he has me and I continue to work or live my life as normal. Some other positive coping skills that I do is read someone else’s encouraging words, I play Jazz, Christian, or Country music, I listen to an inspiring message preached by one of my favorite preachers, or I will watch something that will make me laugh. Additionally, I will take a walk and breathe in the fresh air, exercise at the gym, write in my journal, or talk to those who I trust and release whatever it is that I am experiencing. One of the things I especially thank God for is my friend, she has been through similar experiences and with the help of therapy her life has improved tremendously. In fact, it is her words of wisdom, correction, and the insight that she has learned from therapy, the life lesson learned from her mother who has passed away, and through her personal life experiences that has allowed me to confront some difficult truths about my character what I project and how I communicate with other people, I know that she is a real friend because she holds me accountable, she fights for me and our friendship even when I act childish and become dismissal towards her, she always challenges me and even though I do not like to always admit when she is right I always apologize and we communicate and we get over and life another day as friends, I truly thank God for the one because she really is heaven sent.

With all that has been instilled in me I encourage those of you who have been going through the same thing that I battle not to give up, it is possible to function and live a good life, but it equally important that we learn how to confront our issues. I encourage people to get help if they realize that something is not right with them mentally, to seek help, I know that there is such a negative stigmatism when mental health is discussed because people are afraid of being judged but the truth is everyone has mental health, what matters is knowing whether we have poor mental health or good mental health. Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. In fact, I joined a community of women who have poured so much into me, all who have been through worse life situations, some of which have poor mental health and are taking the steps just like me to get the help that they need. Sometimes when we meet and someone tells their story of what they have been through I  am amazed and I think to myself how they made it through all that they have been through, and of course the immediate answer is God, he’s such a keeper in that way, when we think that we have no more fight or we think that we cannot make it anymore God comes in and strengthens us and leads us closer to himself.

I also want to remind you that it is important that we all get mental health checkups just as much as we get our physical health checkups because just like Christ, we are three in one body, soul, and mind. All three of our being is equally important and when something is out of whack our bodies will let us know that something is not right. I was taught in therapy to listen to my body. I have been becoming educated in the subject of mental health because growing up I was taught poor mental health coping skills so I turned to weed, alcohol, and cigarettes all of which destroy the beautiful chemistry that God gifted us with. Now that I have been educated, I am now able to pour out what has been poured in me through licensed therapist as well as phycologists who have their P.H.D. All of whom I have grown to love and cherish because of all the information and love that they have poured into me which gave me the skills and the know how to live my day to day life. And let me say this life is such a blessing enjoy it, even though we are currently in a pandemic think about and focus on positive things, listen to those who build you up, build your relationship with God from whom all blessings flow, and cherish your loved ones. In addition, I must admit further that after taking mental health education classes I am going to revisit the anecdote that I previously wrote and include more information about suicide. Some of my sisters and whether they know it or not those who I have connected with in these mental health classes are my sisters have lost their loved ones to suicide and even have loved ones currently battling suicide so it is important to recognize the signs and to know more information so that if we notice signs we can help that person get help by referring them to the people who can help them and in some cases we may have to go the extra mile and be that extra support system that they he or she may need. I know how it is to be suicidal I battled it years ago in my adolescent years, and I thank God every day for bringing me through that period of life.

Lastly, hold on! we can live life even after we have been broken, remember that what we lack is information and the know-how, but once we learn what is needed to break the cycle of negligent mental health we can truly start to live better lives. There is life after discord, if you want to change, change is possible.

References

Generalized anxiety disorder – Symptoms and causes. (2017, October 13). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/generalized-anxiety-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20360803

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. (n.d.). ADAA. Retrieved November 16, 2020, from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad

What Is PTSD? (n.d.). Web Starter Kit. Retrieved November 16, 2020, from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd

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