If Anxiety & Paranoia had a lovechild, it would be me.

I have chewed my fingernails for as long as I can remember.  I don’t mean cute little “Aw, I’m nervous, let me give my nail a little nibble.” I mean, imagine my nails were bunny rabbits and my mouth a cheetah. I annihilate them. I mean, I really destroy them. I chew and chew until they are non-existent. I do this when I get nervous, and since I am nervous virtually every second of the day, they are horrendous to look at. Why am I telling you this disgusting fact about myself? Because this is one example of many, of how my anxiety manifests itself daily.

Many people don’t know that I suffer from anxiety, except those closest to me. In fact, I take medicine to keep my crippling anxiety at bay. I don’t advertise this part of me because it is actually a very dark place for me to be. I believe the stigma attached to these types of personality disorders has caused many people to sweep their issues under the rug, not seeking the proper treatment.  This can be a very dangerous thing.

This is why I have chosen to put the ugly truth about my generalized anxiety disorder here for…well, anyone to see….

Many people close to me have a hard time understanding why I react to things the way I do. It is difficult to make someone understand something, they have never felt. If you were to have a ball thrown at your face, you would throw your hands up and most likely try to duck.  That would probably be your knee-jerk reaction to that situation.  My knee-jerk reaction to almost every situation, is to stress, worry, and imagine the worst case scenario possible.  It’s automatic, and out of my control.

After reading this you will probably think I’m nuts. I’m prepared for that. You will most likely think I am overreacting and unreasonable, that’s ok too. The truth is however, that your potential reaction to my way of thinking, is the main reason a lot of people keep quiet, and suffer silently.  I am hoping to shed some light on this subject so that anyone else who may be dealing with this, can know they are not alone, I’m right there with you, and there is help available.

This is what it is like inside my anxious mind…….

My sister asks if she can take my son, her nephew to the park–  I say no, because if she were to get into a car accident with him, and he died, I could never forgive her.

My bonus daughter asks if she can go in our backyard, 2 feet from the back door, to play on our playground by herself I say no, because if someone were to come kidnap her when I looked away, I would never be able to live with myself.

My husband wants to give our baby a banana to tryI say no because I don’t want her to choke and die, we will just stick to baby food until she’s 15.

I leave my house 45 minutes early to pick my bonus daughter up for school- because being late to places kicks my anxiety into overdrive, so to avoid that feeling, I make sure I am 30 minutes early…….everywhere I go.

My mother in law wants to take my son for a sleep overI say no because he is not used to her bed and may fall off in his sleep, breaking his neck and becoming paralyzed.

If I have a stomach painI convince myself that my appendix just burst and I currently have poison filling my insides and am going to die within the hour.

If more than 2 people are talking at onceI feel like I am a soda bottle that has been shaken, and I am on the verge of exploding.

If you invite me somewhereI will smile and excitedly say yes.  When the day comes, I wake up dreading it, because it requires me to get myself ready and have conversations with people.  I will spend the entire night absorbing other peoples energy and entertaining small talk, and by the time I get home, I am utterly exhausted.

If I leave the house feeling self conscious about my hairI will spend the entire day watching every single person I walk past, to see if they look at my hair, then when they do, I will convince myself that they are thinking about how hideous it looks today, and that I never should have left the house looking like that.

If I tell my sister to call me later, and she doesn’tI will call her.  If she doesn’t answer, I automatically assume she has been kidnapped and murdered.  I even envision my reaction when the police will call to confirm my suspicions.

If someone asks to hold my babyI will stare at them the entire time so that when they drop her, I will be prepared to catch her.

If someone I don’t recognize knocks on my doorI grab a weapon with one hand and have 911 on speed dial with the other.

If I am lying in bed and hear a noiseI envision a robber coming to kill us all. I visually locate a weapon and mentally plan my sneak attack for when he comes in the room.

This probably sounds CRAZY to you right? I know. Trust me, it feels crazy.  Who the hell would want to live like that? I don’t think anyone would.  Yet, many people do.  Some people may have it easier than me, some, probably worse.  There are so many variations of anxiety disorders, each of them equally as difficult to live with.

The excessive, relentless, unrealistic fear that at any moment, terrible things are going to happen.  Most people can enjoy a day at the beach with their children, I will spend the entire day rolling them around in sunscreen and searching the water with binoculars for sharks.

The exact cause of generalized anxiety is not fully known, but a number of factors — including genetics, brain chemistry, and environmental stresses — appear to contribute to its development. I have been this way for as long as I can remember, and I’m certain that a lot of it has to do with the fact that I have lost both my parents, and all but one grandparent. Part of me recognizes that a loved one can be taken away in an instant, therefore I go to extreme and illogical measures, to keep my loved ones safe.

This is the first time I have ever shared this with anyone other than those closest to me.  Reading back to myself what I have written, and seeing my thought processes in black and white has been quite eye opening. I see how unreasonable my thought process is. I see how insane it must seem to outsiders.   I have laid my deepest fears and imperfections at the feet of anyone who chooses to read this, in hopes it will make someone realize they are not alone, and help others realize that we aren’t just being “worry warts” who need to “relax” and “calm down”, trust me, if we could, we would.

I have started meditating and praying and it has helped tremendously.  The problem stems from my need to control, and in reality, nothing is in control….I cannot control the wind, the time, the flow of traffic, gravity, the weather or anyone other than myself. I need to recognize this, and let. it. go.

In the meantime, I need people to understand that we are not faking it, it is very, very real.  We need less criticism and judgement, and more love and support.  If you know someone who suffers from anxiety (and I really do mean “suffers”) don’t downplay it, don’t make them feel foolish, or crazy.  Ask how you can help and let them know you are there for them.  It is very difficult to live this way, but having a strong support system makes all the difference in the world.

 

 

17 comments

  1. THIS!!! I can soooo relate! I’ve dealt with anxiety in different variations my whole life. I had my first child in November of last year, and just when I thought it couldn’t be any worse… BAM!
    Just today, I had to visit the local tag office to renew my tag. I like to be prepared before doing anything like this, so I do everything I can to ensure I have what I need, know exactly where to go, what line to stand in, etc. Well, low and behold, I walk in and get in line only to see a sign on the wall listing things I MAY need when renewing my tag. I didn’t have one of those things so I immediately go into panic mode and want to get out of line, and just go home, come back the next day (even if that meant having to pay the late fee since today was the last day of the month). My mother tells me it’s fine, she didn’t have half the things on that list when she renewed hers , so I literally had to convince myself the entire time to stay in that line and at least attempt to get this done! It’s exhausting, truly.

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  2. This is exactly how I feel everyday of my life.. since I was just a baby. I would sleep at my mom’s bedroom door when I was young because she locked it and I thought that b3cause she locked it, she didn’t love me anymore. So I would lay there and wait till she woke up to cry in her face and of ahe picked me up, I knew that she still loved me.

    When I got to be a little older, she couldn’t leave my aight or I thought she was dead. I would literally freak out, screaming and crying until she ran from wherever she was to comfort me.

    I am now 20 years old and I take 30mlg of Prozac a day for my anxiety. Driving is not possible if I don’t take my medicine and looking in the mirror is unbearable.

    It is a disorder, not a simple ‘problem, and I think that because people don’t take it seriously, anxiety is spreading and getting worse as the generations grow.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This whole post describes me perfectly. Ever since I was a child, when my parents would go out, I was so sure that they were dead if they didn’t return home at the exact minute they told me. As a teenager, I would imagine having to take care of my baby sister & younger brother because my parents had died, JUST because they didn’t return home at 10:30 like they were supposed to. It was (& still is) extremely exhausting. When I had my son 5 years ago, postpartum depression & anxiety nearly destroyed me. I’m still terrified of letting my son out of my sight (but, to be fair, he’s a daredevil), but I am learning to do it. I drank & used drugs for years because it was the only time I didn’t feel crippling anxiety. Now that I’m sober, it’s tough, but I’ve been in therapy to deal with it.

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  4. I wish i could print this off and let my parents, boyfriend, and family read this. I’m honestly in tears right now. I am ALWAYS worrying… what if this happens… what if something tragic happens.. nobody understands why I do and they all seem to think I just worry too much, but I can’t help it. I’ve learned to kind of hide my fears, but they are so real and always there. I push myself every day to bring my babies to daycare so I can work, because what if a terrorist breaks into their school and they die and I could have just prevented it by not working and keeping them home with me all day… and then I quit my job because I can’t stop thinking of all the different scenarios in which I never see my children again and then I fall into a deep depression… and so on and so forth. I’m starting therapy soon because I know this isn’t how I should feel every day and I’ve been sober for almost 19 months and all of these feeling are getting ahold of me again… I know the chances of those things happening is slim but what if it does? I feel a little better knowing I am not alone, I know that even though I’m afraid these things will happen I still push myself and let go sometimes and my babies are still okay and I’m ok…

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  5. Thank you Tiffany.. not just for this post but for all your blogs! I am 39 with 2 teenagers and attempting to raise them to adulthood without (too many) catastrophies, while fighting 2 depressive syndromes and ptsd and generalized anxiety disorder. Self medicating is how I have always handled it until 5 years ago when I stopped hard drugs cold turkey and man oh man…feeling my feelings without numbing myself has been the biggest struggle of my life. And that is saying alot considering some of the things I have been through. (Seriously we could collaborate on a book..we could combine our life stories and it would be a best selling “based on a true story” novel..or fiction..
    !! Lol I say fiction because therapists also look at me like I’m lying when I tell my story)
    I love reading your blog as well.as the way you express yourself. I know alot of people tell you how awesome and inspiring you are, BUUUUTTT..seriously dude, I hope I can be as awesome as you one day..You give me hope and help me feel less alone in my anxiety. Keep on keepin on. On your bad days just remember how far you have come and hold your head high. You are killing this whole adulting thing!!! Never forget that! Thank you again for your beautifully honest raw realness from the bottom of my heart.
    P.s. Holla when you are ready to collab;)

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  6. So…I knew I had anxiety just from self diagnosing & basically memes on the internet. But after reading this, Wow. It appears to be much deeper and intense that I could have known. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing ALL your stories. I started with your time in jail, then your current ongoing series…now I’m just rummaging through all your post like an addict trying to find something new. You are an incredible writer & even better human. I think I love you..lol. I was raised by addicts, then blindly fell into prescription addiction from chronic back pain. It wasn’t until 7 yrs later I realized I was completely addicted and have been in recovery on my own for 12 weeks now. Funny thing is I came across your FB while detoxing in week 1 and you have been a godsend to me. So again, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ^Same….looking through the archives lol. Re: anxiety – I constantly get told “you need to calm down”. Also, I wish I could have read your PPD blog in 1988, no one told me anything. I am probably older than you though, so um…yea. Plus the whole no internet thing haha

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  8. You’ve described me to a T. I have all the same fears and it holds me back from so much and wreaks havoc on my relationships. Its hard to find a way out of the hell that is my mind, let alone explain it to my loved ones in a way where they won’t hate me. Thank you for sharing.

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  9. Have you ever read something that made you cry a little because it made you feel like someone else out there gets it and maybe you aren’t crazy after all? Or maybe you ARE, but its ok because now someone else is paddling in the crazy boat with you and you don’t have to look stupid in your life jacket and swimmies all alone?
    Spot on.

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  10. I understand about being a person who uses the imagination to catastrophize most situations. I have 4 children ages 27 to 33 and the possibilities of crap happening has not decreased. Being told you had terminal cancer when your children were 5 to 11, did not help whatsoever. Counseling a couple of years ago did help. Practicing imaging a good outcome instead of disaster. Apparently there are ruts in your brain created by continually thinking about worse case scenario and left unchecked this is where your mind automatically heads. But ruts can be lessened over time and newer better ones built. My counselor was a Christian counselor, and phil chap 4 starting with don’t be anxious, and ending with whatever is noble and of good report, think of these things and you will have peace. Thx for your courage. I have to work at it everyday.

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  11. Having a baby makes it so much worse. Before, I could avoid the things I dreaded. Sorry, can’t make it to your holiday party because someone stole my car, but, don’t worry, I think it’ll be back before I have to be at work on Monday…
    Now there are decisions to be made and everyone has an opinion and they’re not afraid to share it with you regardless of how long they’ve known you or if they actually have any children of their own.
    My husband and I both have had bad reactions to vaccines. We got them so we’re not rabid or anything, but we each have our “coulda died!” stories. When it came to vaccinating our unborn son, I was of the opinion that a living kid beats a dead kid 10 out of 10 times. This opinion was the catalyst for my MIL to attempt to murder me under a literal ton of paperwork about vaccine injury. Suddenly, I’m sobbing to my best friend because, what if he gets the vaccine and it hurts him to the point that he’s non-verbal and needs someone to take care of him and then I die and he goes into one of those horrible places where the nurses and orderlies beat on their patients and they hurt him and he can’t understand why I won’t come and save him, why I don’t love him anymore, and why I’ve left him with people who hurt him and he just sits and watches the door each day because I have to come back for him, but I never will because I’m dead.
    She assured me that someone would step in before any of that happened and that’s the only reason I’m only mildly sick to my stomach, thinking I could probably vomit up this knot in my throat if I just gave it the good ol’ college try.
    He’s 11 months old and sleeping in our bedroom because there’s a window facing the street in his room and the screen is still torn from when my father-in-law’s dog tore through it and someone could just break in and take him and I’d never see him again. He has a crib he’s never slept in because there’s a man whose skin looks like it’s made of wood who scares me whenever I see him and he lives within a couple miles of my home. I’m sure this man watches me when I’m outside and he’s probably got a knife and is angry that I’ve never said hello to him. I’ve never seen him less than a mile from my house, but he’s most definitely a murderer and I’m next on his creepy wooden list.

    Typing it out does make it sound irrational, but it doesnt change anything. This is all still deeply held truth.

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  12. I love reading your blogs. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I have these feeling all day too!!!
    I realized the other day that the only people who hold my 8month old are my husband’s parents (I don’t have family left of my own) & the entire time they hold him, I’m RIGHT THERE watching the entire time lol

    If we drive over a bridge (& I know this fear developed when I had kids and I got this from my mom) but I imagine what would happen if we drove off into the water, how FAST I would need to react, how I could possibly save both of my kids… If I even would have the chance to… (Those thoughts get scary!!!)

    I live in Venice, FL & I’m not sure if you remember how an older man and his daughter drove off into the water by the Jetty last year…
    There were witnesses recording it all, while a few other people jumped in to try and save them… But couldn’t :/

    Im glad that you’ve decided to entertain & shine light on people who have these issues in their lives.
    Normalize it so everyone can stop hiding from their fears & can overcome them!!!

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  13. Holy THIS !!! This is me, Iโ€™ve thought about talking to a doctor about it when it gets out of hand but then I think โ€œno, itโ€™s not a big deal, Iโ€™m just overreacting, as usual.โ€ I was never like this until I had kids and over the years it has only gotten worse!! Thank you for bringing this to light. Iโ€™ve been in a bad place lately because I feel like Iโ€™m losing control more and more everyday and Iโ€™m turning bitter and my poor kids !! I donโ€™t want them to have to live a crazy sheltered life because there mom canโ€™t handle her shit. So, Thank you, I just found your blog tonight and have been binge reading, even though I should be sleeping. Whatโ€™s one more sleep deprived night ? (I am a mom after all )

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