Anxiety: Not Your Grandma's Kind of Worry

This is a guest post by someone I think the world of.  The author asked to remain anonymous for now, and I completely respect that decision.  We are all at different points in our journey. --Steve

I am a perfect person. Well, if you ask just about anyone. I was the kid that teachers adored and other kids hated. I always made the highest grades, I always joined the most clubs, and I never broke any of the rules. This was not the result of having helicopter parents or a tiger mom – I was, and still am, my own toughest critic. As an adult, I continue this rigorous self-evaluation. Even though I have a wonderful job that many people would give up so much to have, on a small level it still bothers me that it doesn’t require the college degree that I worked myself to the bone to acquire. I strive to be perfect.

That’s probably why it took me so long to admit that I have a problem.

I worry too much.

It sounds like a fake problem, right? Like something that only a middle-class young woman who has had a pretty comfortable life could concoct. That’s what I always assumed before, too.

Suppressing my stressful and worrisome thoughts began causing even more problems. It started a few years ago, a string of isolated incidents that slowly but surely grew closer and closer together: the panic attacks.

Sleepless nights filled with unnecessary calls to 911 and/or reckless sobbing because I was sure, absolutely sure, that I was dying. It feels like a blood clot was breaking loose in my veins, like my arms are going to fall off, like someone is sitting on my chest and strangling me at the same time. The two times that paramedics actually inspected me, they said the only thing that was wrong with me was high blood pressure, and that I was likely from hyperventilating.

It got to the point where I felt like I was going insane. I was plagued by worry and panic at all times. If my husband was five or ten minutes later getting home than I expected, I would practically be in tears, just knowing that he was dead somewhere on the side of the road. I would stop several times on my way home from work to check under my seat to make sure that a snake hadn’t managed to sneak into my car during the day. Sometimes, I wouldn’t even know what I was worried about. I would just be mentally paralyzed by terror.

It was awful.

One Friday, after spending three nights up worriedly Googling the symptoms of heart attacks and blood clots, I had the worst panic attack of my life. It was there, early morning, on the side of the road, surrounded by sirens and emergency responders with a portable EKG machine hooked up to me and a blood pressure cuff around my arm once more, that I realized I could not take it anymore. I scheduled an appointment with an internal medicine doctor, and he diagnosed me with generalized anxiety disorder and asked me if I’d like a prescription for Klonopin.

Ashamed, I said yes.

I was ashamed because I’d always thought that people who depended on medicine to help them deal with their anxiety or depression were weak, that they just couldn’t get it together, that they were – dare I say – not all there. I didn’t need medicine to help me. I just needed to buck up and stop worrying so much. And then when I realized deep down that I did need medicine to help with my worrying problem, I started worrying even more about the stigma attached to it. Worrying about what my husband would think. What my friends would think.

About a month later, all I have to say is that I didn’t realize how unhappy my anxiety made me until it was gone. So many fears are just…gone. I sleep at night. My husband is in awe of how much I don’t worry about one or the other of us dying. I have never felt so free.

If this is you, don’t tell yourself it is just a funk, or that you need to “just stop worrying.” Get the help that you need and deserve. You are destined for greater things than this. Make no mistake: accepting anxiety as your fate, or as a personality quirk, can only harm you. It is nothing but a hindrance between you and the ones that love you, and most importantly, our magnificent Creator. Banish it from your mind, from your soul, from your life. You won’t be sorry.