Although I suffer from a few disorders that are focused around anxiety, the disorder that I have suffered from the longest, and the one that affects my daily life, is GAD. Hence why I decided to write this blog. A friend has recently asked me to write a post on explaining what GAD is, in simple terms.
What exactly is GAD?
GAD stands for generalized anxiety disorder. It is a long term condition; I believe that some individuals have suffered from it for years without even realizing that they have a mental illness. The most prominent symptom of GAD is constant worrying and feeling of dread within you daily life. Unlike related things, such as panic disorder and phobias, if you suffer from GAD the worrying is less intense, but also lasts much longer. For example, over the past 4-5 years I have been suffering from GAD, I don’t remember a day going by where I wasn’t worrying about something.
You still worry about things that everyone else worries about, such as money, society, how you look, starting a new job. However, a GAD sufferer’s (GADS) worry is more intense, more long lasting and often the situation is completely blown out of proportion. For example, you may text a friend and they only reply in a short way. To a normal person, they may shrug it off or think nothing more. To a GADS their mind runs wild. Have I said something wrong? Oh they don’t like me. I won’t text them again. I will delete them on facebook for damage limitation (yes, I have done this).
I remember as a child (and I am unsure if I suffered from GAD then), seeing a news report on the war in Iraq. For months I worried it was going to come to England. I couldn’t sleep, I was sick. I thought, ‘how come no one else is worried? What will happen to me? How will I die?’
The thoughts disable you throughout your life, and may stop you from reaching your potential (not going to a social situation, staying in a job you hate, not driving etc). I sometimes feel that my worries are another person, sitting on my shoulder following me around. Or my shadow. They are just there.
Your anxious thoughts are uncontrollable, you can’t turn them off (treatment can help of course). Uncertainty, well, it almost kills you inside. I have to plan things, and stick to the plan and although my daily anxiety is still there, it limits it. However, this brings its own problems and you are often seen as ‘stubborn’ rather than anxious.
You may not be able to sit still, or relax. I am always told that I am ‘rushing around’ and my mother says ‘you always have to fit something into every minute of the day!’. You may have trouble concentrating, or completing tasks because your mind is racing on other things, and the worry and dread is just horribly overwhelming.
Physically, you may have trouble sleeping, or staying asleep. I used to have nightmares of random stuff, and also I have been known to sleep walk and sleep talk which I believe is because my mind just can’t relax. I have also recently developed sharp chest pains, which the GP has put down to my GAD. You may also experience stomach problems.
Basically, GAD is chronic anxiety. About anything, and everything. A barrier to living your life the way you want to. And yet, I would say…It is one of the most common ones out there. If worrying is affecting your life, then you need to get some form of help. No matter how small you think it is, or how small someone says it is. It is your worry bag, and your life.