Redefine Your Disorder: Coping with Anxiety

By: Anonymous

I guess I will begin with when I was diagnosed about 18 years ago. I was having personal issues that were affecting most aspects of my life. Despite learning of different mental illnesses in my profession and throughout college, I could not recognize in myself what was going on. It took a couple appointments, lots of delving into myself, and trust in a medical professional to diagnose me with anxiety with OCD tendencies. To have a name for what was troubling me and to be convinced by my doctor that he felt he could help me return to me, provided myself with some long awaited relief.

Delving into yourself with a stranger when all you want is the mind and capabilities you remember having is in itself anxiety-provoking. Looking back on my life, childhood, education, relationships, family, etc could provide indicators to my diagnosis, which I am sure was always present, just not identified. Anxiety is in my immediate family. I became my father's release for frustrations in his life. When I thought my mom could maybe confront him to make him stop, she wouldn't believe me until he broke my arm in front of her. I felt empty and deserving of what happened to me. I ran away a few times, but was always returned to the same environment.

I finally decided to take some control of my life and get out of the house by joining sports. I had developed a picking condition, with scars that are a constant reminder of what life was like back then. In high school, an eating disorder was more popular than picking, so I engaged in not eating and running to deal with what I know now is anxiety. Gradually, I overcame the eating disorder, but then the OCD tendencies surfaced. These are probably the most difficult part of my illness to hide while trying to fit in with society. My expectations of others that don't act as I think they should made my head spin. Why couldn't people just see that my way was the way that was most cleanest, germ-free and organized? I learned to perseverate more than were hours in the day. My mind would race about the same topic for hours. These elements of myself made relationships complicated, short-lived and alienating. After years of living this way, I realized it was not a way to live any longer.

Initially with treatment, I was in such a state that I wanted an immediate cure, so I opted for a medication commonly used for those suffering from anxiety. This did take the edge off and allowed me to function, yet obviously medication for mental illness is not going to fix a person entirely. I then began therapy and was grateful for how this educated me to cope, problem solve and be a more happy person. Sure I have heard the comments regarding people who have mental illnesses, take medications for mental concerns or seek treatment for disorders of the mind. I didn't care. I wanted to be well again, and luckily found that through 4 years of medication and therapy.

I am in no way cured. I still perseverate. I worry. I like to be organized. I still have issues with germs and cleanliness. The difference now is that I recognize what is going on in my mind, and I have the skills to turn my thinking around. I have a loving support system, healthy people that understand me, and I can laugh at myself. I surprise myself now as I can be bothered by something, talk about it once, and be over it. I have learned to prioritize my anxieties. I am not concerned with how others perceive what I have done to help myself with my illness. We are given one life and deserve to live it for ourselves. I hope my account has provided insight to others who may be suffering as I had.