I have an anxiety disorder. (Not sure what that means? Hop over here and get a quick overview)
Yes, it's a mental health disorder. Which means that people generally don't talk about it. And no, it doesn't mean that I'm just a little stressed out with everything (ahem, the three kids) and so I have anxiety.
It started around 2nd or 3rd grade for me. I called home from school several times a week with stomach aches, begging to go home. It got to the point where I had to practically be bleeding from the head to be allowed to go call my mom because I had stomach aches every single day. I know they must have thought I was faking it. But I really did have those stomach aches every day, they were a symptom of anxiety...I just wasn't old enough to understand that yet. I came to just think that's how things were, that I was supposed to walk around feeling like there was a ball of lead in my stomach.
The panic attacks started in puberty.
I've had a brief reprieve from anxiety, a couple of years where the knot in my stomach and the constant worrying were gone. But almost two years ago, it started creeping back. And that is why I am writing about it now.
My anxiety in the past few months has been the worst it has ever been in my life.
My anxiety manifests itself in a fear of calling people on the phone, generally. Yes, that may sound silly to you. Which is why I tend to not talk about this. But "simple" things like calling a doctor's office or a new friend can take a huge amount of effort on my part. This is always, always there...but when my anxiety is "down" I can manage it and make the calls without too much extra effort. When my anxiety is mild, I may have to work up to making the calls. When my anxiety is high, I can't make them.
That's how it's always been.
Well, these last few months have been a whole new level of crazy for me. I've always been able to call my mom, she is my best friend in the whole world. Well, it got to a point where I couldn't even call her. Then, I started being unable to answer calls. And then? Lately, I've been almost completely unable to answer texts and emails.
You have no idea how deeply embarrassed I am to even admit this. I know this makes no sense. I know I should be able to do these things.
The hardest part is that it has been affecting, well, everything. Mainly, our finances. Because, guess what my business requires me to do?? CALL PEOPLE. Every day. Not doing that has made my business pretty much dry up and completely go to dust. Which means that I haven't been able to bring in money. Which has increased my anxiety, because we kind of need that money to, you know, feed the kids. And the more anxious I get about being unable to do my job, the less I am able to do my job.
I have never felt more scared and helpless. It's like being stuck in a loop of self destruction.
So, why am I choosing to go public with such a private struggle? Well, two reasons, really:
Because I know I'm not alone. Maybe for you it isn't anxiety and phone calls, maybe you suffer from depression or some other mental health disorder. Even though I know I am not alone, I need to feel like I'm not alone right now, and I bet someone else needs that too.
And because I'm not above asking for help. Yes, I am in therapy right now. But, to really put myself out there, I need help restarting my business. For my local friends, if you think you can be of any help in that area please let me know. Otherwise, I want you to give me a call. Maybe not today (not sure I could handle 100 phone calls in one day!) but sometime in the next few weeks. I am going to work on answering my phone again, and making calls (so if you get a phone call from me soon, know that you are special to me!) My therapist says I just have to start facing it and break the fear cycle. May sound simple but I'm breaking out into a sweat just writing about it.
So, there you go. I've got issues, you guys. But while I may be afraid of picking up the phone, I don't ever again want to be afraid of talking about this. Because it is real and it is me and it should be nothing to be ashamed of.
Now, give me a virtual hug, I'm going to go eat some ice cream, writing this post has stressed me out.
|The image I will be thinking of whenever I get on the phone this week: The road to wellness has a sunset of course|