I have an anxiety disorder. Most people truly have no idea what this means. So, you feel a little anxious all the time, right? Um, no. Unmedicated, I probably would have had a heart attack and died by now. Or worse, because I suffer from agoraphobia when I’m unmedicated.
With an anxiety disorder, you just don’t feel a little anxious all the time, everything can make you anxious. If we aren’t hungry and miss a meal, our first thought is not, “how much did we eat at our last meal?” It’s “am I getting sick? Why would I not be hungry?”
The most common used phrases are “you’re overreacting” and “I think you’re a hypochondriac”. Neither of these are true. When your brain instantly latches onto the worst case scenario, it’s hard to under react. For example, I was approved for Botox injections to prevent migraines. I was fine with the thought of it until it was approved. Now, I keep wondering if I’m going to get that one bad batch and end up with horns (because it didn’t spread out as it should have) and botulism. Ridges is a common side effect, so far, no one has gotten botulism from Botox, but I can’t stop my brain from thinking that I’ll be the first. If I could stop my brain from thinking that, I wouldn’t have an anxiety disorder.
I’m not a hypochondriac, kinda the opposite actually, because I worry I’ll be thought of as a drug seeking hypochondriac. I never suspect I’m sick… I need proof and I can’t manufacture it. Then, there’s the whole thing about being a hypochondriac that causes stress. I’ll have to give an example: So, I have a big nasty mole under one arm. It should probably be taken off, it looks suspect. But that means two different doctors… the first my GP to refer me to a dermatologist… except I have zero desire to go see a dermatologist, especially a new dermatologist. Might as well just strap me down in a chair and start the waterboarding, because that’s what going to a new doctor is like. My migraines are not as well documented as they should be because I will suffer for days (weeks), before I break down and go to the ER, Urgent Care, or a doctor because I worry about them thinking I’m seeking narcotics or worse, that they might decide to hospitalize me for it (been there, multiple times, and hate it). Plus, I don’t know the doctors at the ER and urgent care facilities. What if they are skeptical of my migraine claim because I have some wonky symptoms after 27 years of them? What if, despite my telling them I have Sjogren’s and therefore am not dehydrated, they decide the migraine is solely caused by dehydration and decide to pump me full of fluids instead of meds and I end up with a migraine and nubby sausage fingers, because I have never been dehydrated in my life?
Then there’s the part of it we rarely discuss. Stress is painful. Lots of stress if really painful. Some days, I wake up and it hurts to roll over in bed. I feel like I have been beaten from my head to my toes. Even my hair can hurt on those days. It isn’t caused by an “illness” per se, it’s totally stress related pain. Stress manufactured in my brain. Like, the dog didn’t want to sleep in our bed tonight… is she sick? Did something happen while she slept the night before that hurt her? Is it too hot for her to sleep in the bed? Should I turn on the air conditioning even though the digital temperature gauge in the bedroom says it is only 68 degrees (inside and 50 outside)? Why am I stressing out about the dog?!?! Which creates a cycle because now I’m stressed out over stressing out over the dog and her lack of desire to sleep on the foot of our bed one night…Or test results! I had blood work done in late January and haven’t gotten the results. Is that because they found something and needed more testing? Why haven’t they called me? Or sent me a letter? Or bothered to give me some kind of feedback?
Yep, that’s how it is when you have an anxiety disorder.