To have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is to worry — a lot. While true, this is an oversimplification. “Worry” doesn’t really begin to describe what happens in GAD. Everyone worries; it’s part of being human. It’s a given that people will worry about their grade on a test, for example, worry about their job security when downsizing is taking place, or worry about their child’s safety when he or she is away. But in GAD, the worry becomes all-consuming and typically isn’t limited to a single situation. Rather than having worries in one’s life, for someone with GAD, life itself is a constant worry. Keep reading »

Over the past few months, I have been experiencing more anxiety and panic attacks than I have been used to. Many people take anxiety medication to control anxiety and I am no exception. Before I was medicated, the anxiety was unbearable and uncontrollable. Many years ago, I worked with my doctor to gain as much control over anxiety as possible.

Prescribing medicine, whether for physical or mental illness, is not an exact science. The medicine that provides relief for one person may not provide relief for another. Even when two people are on the same medication, they may be on different doses or need to take them at different times of the day.

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I must confess; I’m a bully. But not to others. I tend to bully myself relentlessly, criticizing what I do and don’t do, say and don’t say. It’s a nearly endless stream of self-denigration that runs always in the background, often in the foreground, of my thoughts. This harsh self-criticism is entangled with all types of anxiety. Keep reading »

By now, everyone has heard that beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams has died, probably by suicide. His death, like all deaths, is a tragedy. The fact this was a suicide adds an extra wrinkle to this story. To most, it makes the event sadder or incomprehensible. For people who also suffer from depression or any other mental illness, it makes it more personal.

When a famous, wealthy, and generally well-liked person succumbs to their illness, it’s natural to wonder how we can survive our own illness when someone with all that going for them could not. Nothing creates more anxiety than wondering whether or not we can beat our illness. Keep reading »

Anxiety can be so overwhelming. Insidiously, it sometimes overtakes our entire being. A worry, an obsessive thought, or a fear creeps into the mind. Sometimes we notice it, and our anxiety kicks into overdrive. Other times, our anxiety kicks into overdrive before we fully notice that worry, thought, or fear. Either way, anxiety chokes us physically, cognitively, and emotionally. We feel defeated. Yes, we feel defeated; however, we aren’t actually defeated. Keep reading »

I am a people pleaser. It is nice to give people what they want and I enjoy taking part in their happiness.

Over the years, I have learned that I have to say “no.” As much as I love to please people, it isn’t wise to give people everything they want. Sometimes it isn’t in their best interest and sometimes it isn’t in mine. As someone with an anxiety disorder, it often makes me anxious when I say “no.”

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In a fit of anxiety, or in the throes of a panic attack, our minds sometimes turn on us even more than they already do. Our brains might be consumed with worries, fears, and thoughts of going crazy, and our bodies overcome with agitation, sweating, trembling, aches, and pains, yet our minds produce another thought that bursts through the chaos and slaps us painfully across the face: “What is wrong with me and why am I like this?” To add insult to injury, sometimes when we turn to someone, perhaps a friend or a family member, in search of understanding and help, the message we can receive is “What’s wrong with you? Why are you like this?” Keep reading »

As a speaker and blogger, I answer a lot of questions about recovering from mental illness. I am asked many different things, from the technical, to the personal, to the deeply personal. I sincerely enjoy the conversation, and leading group discussions is one of my favorite activities. Answering comments and emails is a close second.

It is because of my love of interaction that I decided to write an interactive blog. Every blog on HealthyPlace is technically interactive, in that they all have a comments section. This is a little different, however. The goal of those blog posts is to be read and the goal of this blog post is for you to participate. This won’t be an interactive blog if you don’t.

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Anxiety brings with it a seemingly endless list of struggles and frustrations. A very common frustration, and one that for me is incredibly bothersome, is anxiety’s loud, unrelenting hyperactivity. Keep reading »

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where even though what had already happened was minor, you were aware that it could have lead to a more serious situation?

The best example I can come up with is a three-year-old with matches. What is actually happening is a toddler standing there holding a pack of matches. What adults envision is the entire house engulfed in flames.

The house, mind you, isn’t on fire. The toddler isn’t even trying to strike the matches, and would likely be unsuccessful. Just the same, any responsible person will stop whatever they are doing and remove the matches, and, therefore, the potential for disaster — all before any real danger was ever there. Anxiety and panic attacks can be a lot like that.

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