6.04.2012

My Daily Struggle

It all started when I was a freshman in high school. I started having severe pains in my chest almost all day, every day.

I can't tell you how many different doctor's appointments I had over the course of a couple of months. I was poked, prodded and questioned. It was baffling why a 14 year old girl would have chest pain when she has a healthy heart.

Finally, I was diagnosed with GAD, or generalized anxiety disorder. Now all of my other symptoms made sense and everything, in a sense, starting falling into place.

What on earth would a 14 year old have to stress about? That's a good question.

I stressed about everything, things that most people don't even give a thought to. I worried to the point of making myself sick on an almost daily basis. I was constantly irritated and couldn't explain why. 

My doctor was able to finally start me on a treatment plan. I began an anti-depressant medication. Depression? No, but depression meds are very effective in people who suffer from anxiety.

There are many medications out there and they all work differently for everyone. Unfortunately, I have been on just about every medicine you could imagine trying to "balance" my anxiety out.

This is a daily struggle for me. 

I can't sleep at night for all of the worrying that my mind does when it races. I have a hard time studying when in school because of my inability to completely concentrate at times. I have so much tension in my body that I don't even know the meaning to the word "relax". I lash out at undeserving people sometimes because I'm irritated and on edge a lot of the time.

I worry about money even when I have my bills paid. I worry about my family, especially if I can't get ahold of them. I worry about my safety and am constantly checking my locks, checking to make sure the stove/oven is off, checking to make sure all of my cards are still in my wallet and weren't stolen during the day.

I'm a perfectionist to the max. If I can't do something right the first time, I feel like a complete and utter failure. Even if I eventually get it right, well, that's not good enough. I beat myself up about a lot of stuff. 

Everything has its order, and I make sure it stays that way. I struggle everyday trying to "chill out" and let myself be lax. I try and stop myself, count to 10 and take a deep breath. Sometimes it works. I'm trying. That's all I can do.

I don't write this post for sympathy. I write it for 2 reasons. One - I need to step out of my comfort zone more when it comes to writing and my blog. This is an attempt at that. And two - A lot of people with anxiety feel alone, when it reality it's a lot more common than you'd think. 

You are NOT alone. 

If you struggle like me, even less or worse than me, reach out. I'd love to chat with you.

Disclaimer: Brunch with Amber will be back to it's regularly scheduled cheery programming soon. ;)

49 comments:

Lyzz said...

In the same boat!
I was 15, and couldn't figure it out, but felt like I had been dealing with it for longer than that.

Thanks for sharing.

Holly said...

I am so glad you shared this--I love reading "real" posts like this by bloggers. While it doesn't relate to me specifically, I know it will help someone who needs to read this.

YOU ROCK, Amber!! And we're all here for you with your struggles with anything you need :)

Cait said...

so glad you shared your story amber :) were all here for you when you need it and im sure this will help someone who is confused and going through the same thing xo

Myra said...

So glad you shared this! I'm a nervous wreck full of anxiety. Good to know I'm not alone and that I'm not crazy.

Keep taking breaks for yourself & know we are here for you!

Joey said...

I'm totally with you. I have anxiety over my anxiety!! I'll have to blog about my full blown crazy person meltdown that I had with the husband a few weeks ago over being "on time" for a day at the amusement park!!! You're definitely not alone!

Katie said...

I love serious posts. Kudos to you for being willing to share your struggle.

Micah said...

So much of this is me, even if I've never been dagnosed.

I have the same worries over money (even with bills paid, like you said) and my family/friends. When I can't reach them, I start imagining the worst.

I will lie awake at night sometimes, worrying about one or both of these things. The other night, freaked out about money, I could NOT sleep. The only thing I could do to reassure myself was to get out of bed, turn on my computer, look at my online bank statement and see all the things I've paid with a little money remaining. That seemed to help a little.

I've tried to be a person of better faith too. When I start freaking out about something, I try saying (silently or sometimes out loud), "OK God, I'm giving these worries to you. I know you will guide me through them."

Let me know your other strategies...

Kate Undercoffer said...

Amber, you know I'm in the same boat as you, friend. I'm praying for you! xoxo

Syndal said...

don't worry about this making your blog not very "cheery"--this is about you and I am so glad you are sharing your story. I also suffer from anxiety that was made worse with grad school. It's also hard having anxiety when you're working in health care-those "worry thoughts" are soo difficult to deal with. I'm on fluoxetine for it, which sometimes helps, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes exercise helps. I'm in the process of finding a therapist that isn't booked solid for 3 months at a time to see if that helps. hang in there girl & keep being you! If you ever want to talk you know where to find me!

Life With Lauren said...

I'm so glad you posted this. Life is not all happiness and joy. I think it helps alot of people when they are talked about. Praying for ya!

Charlotte said...

Great great post! I too, suffer from GAD! I go through periods where I have the knot in my chest. A lot of times I wake up with it and it goes away in the morning. Nothing to be ashamed of. I really wish other people understood anxiety and everything that goes along with it. Thanks for sharing! Hang in there!! xo

A Babbling Brunette said...

This sounds SO much like me. I seriously had chest pains twice last week and hadn't eaten. I immediately assumed it was stress! I have to take medicine for panic attacks and get SO frustrated at the dumbest things (like dropping my hair brush). I check my doors and windows every night! Girl neither of us is alone! Email anytime you wanna chat!

Nicole said...

You are definitely not alone! I too have anxiety and depression. When I was young (like 6) I used to constantly asked my parents if we had enough gas to get the places we were going, because I was always nervous about it! Weird, I know.

You are definitely not alone! There is a lot of us out here!

Becca Christensen said...

I love the realness of this post. And please always feel like you can reach out to me when you need me.

When I was severely sick the last couple of years with IBS they kept telling me that it was linked highly to my stress levels, being an OCD freak AND an event planner for work apparently is a tough combo. They suggested anti-depressants for me but I've managed to find other outlets now instead...

Love you friend.

Lauren said...

Thanks for sharing this with all of us, I know it must be hard but know that we are all here for you and love the realness of this post friend <3 Everyone has struggles and the support system is what helps so much!

Lauren said...

A little sidenote, I suffer from severe anxiety and it's NOT easy..I've had to do different things to cope so know you are not alone :-)

JKT said...

You have no idea how much I needed to hear this today. I happened to stumble across your blog and I'm so glad I did. I've struggled with anxiety/depression/you name it for about as long as I can remember. It's a daily challenge in my life when things are going well. THEN when things get rough (like they have been for my the past few days...long time ex boyfriend already has a new girlfriend, yikes). I have had an AWFUL time with the chest aching, cold sweats, anxiety for the past few days more than ever. Your post helped me to remember that it's normal, i'll be okay and I'm not alone.

Thank you for sharing. It was really, really what I needed to hear.

Leslie said...

I love that you shared a post like this that is so REAL. It's the reason I love blogging so much, life isn't perfect and our daily struggles like this connect everyone. Props to you for sharing it, because I know it wasn't easy. But look at how many people deal with the same thing! It definitely helps to know you aren't alone :) Happy Monday!!

Aubrey S. said...

Amber, it's very brave of you to share this with your readers. Thank you for trusting us with it.

I think we all feel pressure to only share the good parts of our life, but we all have challenges, too.

meghan said...

Thanks for sharing. I don't think all posts have to be cheery. I have anxiety issues too and check my locks several times before going to bed and leaving, check my straightener a few times before leaving the house, and have to tell anything i'm worrying about to other people so they'll tell me it's not as bad as I'm imagining it to be. I'm here to chat too if you have things you're worrying about!! I know how you feel. :)

Tayler said...

Amber, YOU are not alone. I can see from these comments alone that you and I (and several other bloggers!) deal with anxiety on a daily basis. Thank you for posting this, sometimes the support is much needed

Meagan said...

Love this post! I'm glad you stepped out of your comfort zone and wrote it!

JulieBug said...

What amazes me about anxiety is that I never knew how many people are affected by it until I started talking to people about my own problem with it. I have always had a touch of anxiety (or a bit more in hindsight). I am a worrier. That is what I thought but it's more than that. I had my first (and only major) panic attack last July. I had no idea what was going on. Ok, I better write a post about this because there is too much to say. lol Anyway, you are not alone and I would love to chat sometime.

Shelley said...

Me too! I had depression somewhat off and on from aout 14-18 or so and then started with the chest pains (or as I later figured out- anxiety). The doctors never helped me. I just kind of had to figure out when I needed to relax and take a step back from stressful things. I still get the chest pains sometimes but since now I know what causes it and what it is, I don't worry so much about it anymore.

Neely said...

Wonderful post friend. Im glad you shared this, I think a lot of people probably have similar issues and now they know that others share them. You are wonderful!

Kara said...

My husband suffers from extreme anxiety, and it is definitely a struggle for him. Unfortunately, he refuses to take any medications, which makes it worse to deal with. I wish he would! Good for you for sharing this with us! I know it's hard to write about something as serious as this, but the support you get from the blogging community is worth it! Keep your head up, girl! :)

Lauren Alyse said...

OMWord, this is so me. And actually now that I think about it, my little sister has been having pretty bad chest pains off and on with no sign of heart troubles and we've been wondering if it's anxiety. I'm forwarding this blog post to my mom (she's been pretty worried about her). Thank you so much for sharing this. It's always nice to know that you're not alone. :)

Meghan said...

I adore you, Amber! I think it takes a lot of courage to share all of this, and I am so glad you've gotten the diagnosis you need! We're all here for you! Love you!

Annabelle said...

When I stayed at home alone when I was younger I would constantly check outside through the blinds to see if anyone was watching me. I was always in contstant worry that someone was watching me or there were eyes on me at times. Freaky! Now that I am older it isn't as bad but I still get it. This is just one senario, there are many! Even as an adult. I struggle to explain it to my husband. He thinks I am BSing.

Turtles and Pearls said...

This is the first time I've seen your blog, and I couldn't have found it on a better post. I, too, have GAD and used to take medication. I finally was able to stop taking it, but sometimes days are still a struggle! I just tell myself over and over again that everything is okay!

Megan said...

Thank you for being SO very honest about this. So many people struggle with this and it needs to be talked about more. You are amazing, Amber!

Shane said...

Amber, I feel your pain. I have had anxiety/depression since I began high school. I realize there is no "cure all" for it and a simple medicine isn't going to fix me. It's a life-long struggle. It feels good knowing there are other people out there feeling the same way as me and that I;m not alone. Thanks for being so open and honest with us.

xo Shane

tara said...

girl, you are definitely not alone. i too suffer from anxiety issues and over the past few weeks it has been really bad. thank you for sharing and being so real and honest! <3

Miranda said...

I also have anxiety issues. i would worry so much my stomach would hurt. It was the worst when I was pregnant and had my son. Some days I felt like I couldn't even breath. That is when I finally got help. And I am so relieved by it. I still struggle but taking some medication and therapy helps a lot.

Lindsey @ Running Down A Dream said...

Thanks for sharing, Amber! Will keep you in my prayers.

Kristin said...

Thank you for sharing, Amber. About 6 months ago, I got crazy stomach pains. After having tests done, the doctor said it was anxiety related issues (I live in Alaska, away from family, while my husband is deployed) and had some seasonal depression mixed in. (Alaska is no ball of fun in the winter.) They put me on anti-depressants and muscle relaxers and the symptoms went away. Our bodies react in crazy ways to all kinds of stressors, so you are definitely not the only one :) I hope you are having a good week!

Kelsey @ Seattle Smith's said...

I think it's amazing that you put yourself out there as honestly so many can relate and are in the same boat. I am a pharmaceutical rep and a doctor said if they could take one drug on a stranded island it would be an antidepressant because it makes such an impact on day to day.

Megg Joosten said...

One of the biggest things I write about in my blog is my depression. Like you it's not for pity, but rather because I want people to know they're not alone. And, it's therapy for me too.
I was a freshman in high school when I first became depressed. I spent the next 10 years being off and on depressed and having no one listen to me, or blow it off. When I finally went to my doctor and confessed how I was feeling, she put me on Prozac. I wish I'd done that 10 years before...but I'm doing better now, which is what's important!
I have anxiety too. I used to call it paranoia until my psychiatrist told me it's anxiety. I called it paranoia because I was "paranoid" that I'd lose my job, or things like that, but it's really anxiety. I hate the feeling, though. I still struggle with it some days even though my depression is under control. The worst is when you're anxious for no reason you can put your finger on. At least when I get anxiety about money my husband can reassure me (for example).
Um, sorry for the longest comment ever. You're not alone, and thanks for reminding me that I'm not, either :)

Jessica said...

I'm so proud of you for putting yourself out like this. I know how hard it is to be 100% real and vulnerable. I'm going through my own struggle with anxiety and PTSD as we speak. My therapist is starting to really break through to me. One day I'll be totally ready to talk about everything but it's little steps like what you're doing that makes the journey a little easier. You know I'm here for you if you need anything, no matter what, any time. Love you friend!!!

Kelly said...

This was a really nice insight to you Amber and I commend you for taking a chance with a hard subject on the blog. I don't have anxiety but I can only imagine how others will feel, reading about your struggle, and knowing that they're not alone. You are SOOOO sweet and apparently, extremely STRONG. Thinking of you friend :-)

Amy Lynn said...

I'm in the same boat only I battle OCD on top of anxiety, daily. I cannot tell you how many times I've been late to work or to go somewhere because of my anxiety and OCD. It hinders my daily activities, even at work. I hope things get better for you girl and keep your chin up, buttercup!!

Jessica Renee said...

I'm so glad I read this post, I deal with anxiety (and depression) as well. Mine started when I was about 13. I too worry about all the same things you do and I have a hard time just shutting off the thoughts - I know you know it's nearly impossible. I'm worried (of course. ha) about how bad my anxiety might get when my daughter gets older but it's definitely a daily struggle and it's good to have people who understand. What helps me the most is having my fiance who listens to me 24/7 and never judges. Sadly none of my IRL friends understand anxiety so I try not to burden them with my "craziness". lol.. But if you ever want to chat, I'm here! :)

Celia said...

I hear ya girly! Mine started with chest pains in 2008 right after Hurricane Ike. I was worried out of my mind that I was having a heart attack. (heart problems run in my family) After tests were done it was anxiety. =/

I can manage it pretty well on my own now, but sometimes it does get unbearable.

If you ever need an ear, I'm here girly! =)

Kim said...

I love you girl!!..you are so damn real! And I love it. I have anxiety too... I hate it..but it's part of who I am. I work it out in my own ways and it's always nice to hear that we are not alone with this. SO many people have sumilar things going on and are afraid to talk about it. Thanks for talking about it!!

Lori Spencer said...

Amber I'm so glad you shared this. I suffer from anxiety myself and I completely understand! :-) You have inspired me to go ahead and write a serious post that I've been anxious about! Thank you for your braveness.

Crazy Shenanigans-JMO said...

Girl, you are not alone. I know we've talked about it before but I know how those anxiety attacks can go. Hang in there!

Megan B.B. said...

Thanks for writing this. I also struggle with being diagnosed with GAD, and sometimes it's even borderline bi-polar because my stressing makes me manic about certain things. I've actually been off of medication now for almost 2 years, since I found out I was pregnant, and now that I'm nursing. It's been a struggle, but it's something I deal with every day.
Megan @ thememoirsofmegan.com

Sarah @ Scissors and a Whisk said...

Oh Amber.. thank you for sharing *hugs*

It's such an inspiration when people reach out like this and just pour the hearts out. It really helps us realize that we're not alone in this world.

<333

Kiley said...

I love you, friend!
I can't believe I'm just now seeing this post. First off, you are so strong and wonderful for posting this! Mad respect.

Secondly, have I ever told you I take zoloft? Mine is for depression, but a lot of the time anxiety runs into that. I never knew you were going through some of the same things! I have been through what feels like it all, so I ALWAYS have an open ear for you anytime! It's always nice to know there are people that know exactly what you may have gone through.


LOVE YOU.

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