I am not fearless, but I am trying. Some days I struggle with trying to feel normal all day, others I am totally fine. What causes this? Anxiety.
This is a hard post for me to write, because I really don’t like talking about my anxiety. I would say a small handful of people even know I struggle with anxiety. Most brush me off as acting “crazy” or being a “hypochondriac”. Sure, I guess I am. Outwardly, I seem fine almost all of the time. In fact, one of my co-workers has mentioned that I’m the most “normal” one at the office. But inside, I feel like a huge mess.
I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It’s something I’ve been to the doctor about and diagnosed with. And my trigger? My fear of death and lack of control. I wish I knew exactly why, or what triggered this, but I don’t. I do know I’ve been to more funerals than weddings in my lifetime. I do know that my mom has admitted going through periods of extreme anxiety, so it’s probably a combination of things from my childhood and genetics. But, its kind of embarrassing. Like social anxiety, I understand. But constantly worrying that I’m going to have some disease and die? Seems a bit ridiculous, because instead of spending my life living, I spend my time worrying.
I think the biggest thing I struggle with is to accept that I am okay. I’ve had more blood tests than I’d like to count. I’ve had more EKGs than I’d like to count too. My heart races, my chest tightens, and I feel like I’m surely having a heart attack. Nope, just anxiety.
But, this post isn’t about my symptoms. I don’t want to feel like this anymore. I want to #BeFearless. Everyday I try to work on my anxiety issues and get over my fears. I am well aware that I am irrational. I am well aware that I am not actually dying (okay, well technically we all are slowly dying or whatever, but you know what I mean). I am aware that more than likely, I don’t have some secret disease that will change my life. I am well aware that there are actually people like Marla, Kate, and Kristan with serious and sometimes debilitating auto immune disorders that live fearlessly everyday sharing their stories. The reason I don’t like talking about my anxiety is because I don’t want to discount anyone who actually has a serious disease. I do not want anxiety to be my crutch or a reason for anyone to feel differently towards me.
I am okay most of the time. Am I fearless? Right now, no. I let things that most people would never notice bother me, keep me up at night. But I am trying. I am trying to #BeFearless everyday, and I sure hope I succeed.
Are you living fearlessly, or are you a work in progress too?
OMG, girl, I am far from fearless (just see my post from last night )! Thanks so much for the shout out. And don’t feel like anxiety isn’t a “real” disease, because it can be every bit as debilitating as a physical ailment. Your struggles are real and valid and we are marching right along with you, trying our best to #befearless. Thanks for sharing, and know that when you don’t feel strong, we will share the load. <3
How funny, I had your blog post open but started writing this before I read yours. Anxiety is such a weird one, while I feel *symptoms* they’re generally not really there, so while its not physically taxing or debilitating, it is in a mental sense. Thanks for your support, Kristan! <3
This is such a brave post. I’m so proud of you. I struggle with this too, and I think it IS being fearless to share your story. <3
Thanks so much, Rachael! I know you’ve written some tough posts lately too and its definitely not the easiest thing in the world to be vulnerable. Your support is appreciated <3
This is such a great post. I love how honest you are. Thanks for sharing and just by sharing this girl you are being fearless! So you go girl!
Thanks, Morgan! I definitely don’t always feel fearless, but I might as well be honest about it! :)
I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder a number of years ago too. I’ve never written about it because it’s something I (mostly) have under control these days, but I definitely feel you. I think it’s very hard for people who don’t have anxiety issues to understand WHY some things are such a big deal—seemingly small stuff like going certain places or making a phone call can be a trigger for some people.
The best piece of advice someone ever gave me was to *pretend* like I was OK during tough moments, sort of like an actor. That sounds totally illogical, but if you can fake it through the rough moments then the rest becomes easier? I don’t know if that makes sense. Maybe if you pretend to be “fearless” enough you will become fearless for realsies!
I definitely know what you mean about being a good “actor”. I’ve put on my acting face on a lot when I’m not feeling awesome. Its comforting to know I’m not alone though, as it seems there are quite a few of us bloggers dealing with anxiety and/or depression.
I am right there with you! I finally asked for a medicine to cope with panic attacks today. I find that writing about it makes me feel better, but if it is something you don’t like to discuss (which most people probably don’t), I applaud you for sharing! I would estimate that half of my friends have diagnosed or undiagnosed GAD, too.
I would bet you’re correct, and if not GAD then there are so many others dealing with depression. Thanks for the support, Sarah, and so glad to hear you’re getting the medication you need for panic attacks. Those are the worst!
This is a great post. Thanks for being so open to sharing your story :)
Thanks, Tracey! I’m glad you enjoyed it. :)
I feel like I used to be more fearless than I am now, although I did just take a risk and move across the country. I understand how you feel about your anxiety. I get anxious over things and sweat some of the small stuff much more than anyone should.
I enjoyed reading this post–it took courage to write!
Thanks, Lisa, I’m glad you could relate! Moving is so hard, and I’m sure that took a lot of courage to move across the country!
Wow. I am speechless. This was such a real, raw story and I can only imagine how hard it was for you to write this… I could feel it in your words. But Jenn, just by you writing about this shows how incredibly BRAVE and FEARLESS you are. I have to be honest, I also struggle about death. Knowing that one day I have to die. Sometimes at night, I would think about it, and I would literally have to sit up in my bed because my heart was going crazy with stress and I couldn’t breathe. That is something I am struggling with and like you, I am working on it too. You understand your symptoms and your understand your faults. And you were able to bring everything together to share your story. Jenn, you are fearless.
Thanks so much for the support, Liz! I’ve definitley had those same nighttime panic attacks in bed too. They can be really scary! It’s definitely something I try to work on everyday, and I’m glad I’m not alone! :)
I can relate a lot to this post – not the fear of death (though it happens sometimes, and I have a weird phobia of the end of the world) – but the generalized anxiety disorder? Check. More EKGs than I can count? Check. But I don’t think I’m okay. I think I have a mental illness. I can’t say that I’m okay because that would disregard the reality that anxiety is not a choice, it’s not something I can control. It goes its own way no matter what I tell it. I can’t buckle up and do it. That’s not how it works.
I do understand people who have anxiety and choose to overcome out of sheer will, but the type/level of anxiety I have gets much, much worse when I don’t acknowledge that it’s a real illness. That’s why meds work for me the way yoga does for other people. I have motivation issues and pretending I don’t only makes me feel guilty and useless, you know?
And I’m not useless, or guilty. I have an illness that I’m overcoming. Sometimes it’s better and sometimes it’s worse, but I’m trying. I moved to London, for fuck’s sake. Every day is different and unpredictable – like Wednesday when I accidentally slept till 4 pm for the first time in weeks – but we keep going. We keep swimming. ;)
Absolutely. I don’t believe I will ever “overcome” anxiety, I think I will better learn to deal with the outcome of having this disorder. I don’t think I will ever be “okay” as long as I have GAD, which I’m assuming is always, but I do know that for the most part, physically I am “okay”. There’s nothing that shows up on a blood test, an EKG, or whatever to show that I am not okay in the physical sense. And I absolutely agree that anxiety is a serious problem, when I mentioned discounting others diseases, it was more in that my anxiety often manifests itself as symptoms of other serious diseases, like joint and muscle pain, twitches, tachycardia, chest tightness, and hypersensitivity. They feel real but aren’t actually “real”, if that makes sense.
i am the opposite of fearless, and am terrified of death. just reading your post made my stomach lurch. if i start thinking about it, i start to panic, my heart beats crazy fast, i start crying and shaking. not good. so i just dont think about it! not smart either. thanks for opening up and sharing though, it is never easy sharing something like this. props to you lovely!
Aw, thanks Kristen! I totally know how you feel. I can get extremely worked up over a trigger too. It’s really hard to not feel in control all of the time. I think being terrified is okay, and by talking about it shows you are fearless too!
Thanks so much for writing this post. I am a worrier and total control freak!
To be honest, I’m just glad I’m not the only one! ;)