Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worry about everyday things. Having an anxiety disorder, while not the worst malady one can encounter, crippling.
For many years, going back to when I was 9 or 10, I would worry constantly. For me, hypochondria was one way the anxiety manifested itself. Every little ache and pain turned into a major ordeal. I would even think that my heart was going to stop while trying to fall asleep, causing me to jump out of bed and walk around my room.
During middle school, I suffered from panic attacks on numerous occasions. They would occur without warning, sometimes in home room or during a choral rehearsal or concert. The symptoms were typical to a normal panic attack – sweaty palms, heavy chest, feeling like I was losing control. There was no rhyme or reason to these episodes, and for so long I had no idea why they came on, or why they suddenly stopped. The loss of control I felt was a precursor for the same feelings that would come about during my late teens through present day.
Constant worrying, which is a hallmark of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, is absolutely paralyzing. From situations while driving, to dating, to worrying about situations that may or may not happen. One example of a situation that I thought might happen, but did not, occurred prior to Superstorm Sandy. A few days prior, I heard the probable wind speeds could result in roof and siding damage to homes. I was worried sick, waking up in the middle of the night, that this would happen. All of this worry was for nothing, as there was no damage to the house I was living in at the time.
Even though I have taken many positive steps to quell my anxiety, dealing with anxiety is a daily challenge. A tactic I have used is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which allows an individual to change patterns of thought from negative to positive. I try to have a positive mindset as much as possible, as I don’t have many negative aspects to my life. If a challenge arises, I now view it as a part of life and roll with it. Having that mentality has made all the difference.