I’m incredibly honored to have my friend, Cat from Frugal Living and Crafting, share her story of dealing with anxiety as my monthly Inspire the Best You feature! Her story of dealing with anxiety and still doing her best to live life the way she chooses is so inspiring to me. I hope you find something in her story that resonates with you as well!
My name is Cat. I’m 36 years old, and happily married to my husband, Jeff. We’re the proud parents of a cat and dog, but none of the two legged sorts of kids. I’m a free-lance writer, and I also blog at Frugal Living and Crafting.
I was originally diagnosed with anxiety when I was 5 years old. I had almost constant nausea, and often had a very difficult time keeping food down. Trips to multiple doctors gave no answers to why I was so sick, and being afraid of doctors, it only made the situation worse. It took an ordinary family doctor to figure out that my “illness” was the physical manifestation of anxiety. I was hospitalized, and given ways to deal with my anxiety when it struck.
Nighttime was one of the most common times for my anxiety to flare up. Often, when I tried to stay the night with friends, I would end up calling my dad at midnight to come pick me up. I felt less anxious when I was at home with my normal routine, and knowing my dad was usually awake most of the night. Many times, I was so thankful to come home that my anxiety abated almost entirely, but equally as many times I would spend the rest of the night ill from it.
I went on to be an anxious teenager, still having most of my trouble at night. My parents were very strict about my grades in school, and when I knew I had not done well on something, I would often literally worry myself sick about it. Sometimes I ended up tearfully confessing that I had gotten a bad grade, long before report cards came out, just to get it off my chest. I typically got grounded anyway, but they were usually less angry if I had warned them first.
Two major events in my life occurred when I was 16. I started dating the man I would marry in 4 years, and spend the rest of life with. And my father left my mother and me and moved across the country. My anxiety was sometimes off the charts because I was so used to having my dad around, especially at night. But Jeff was my rock, and we often chatted to the wee hours of the night to help me get through them the night.
I muddled through life with my anxiety always in tow. It was the reason I dropped out of college. After leaving school, I got a job and still, I muddled through. About 10 years ago, my anxiety took a turn for the worse and I was having a tough time doing anything. I was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the same time, and suffering with the symptoms of that as well. I spent a week in a mental hospital while doctors tried to find medications that would work for me. In the end, I couldn’t control the anxiety enough to function and I became disabled and had to leave my job.
Living by the rules of my anxiety has been my life since then. Often, I’m too anxious to leave home, or too anxious to leave home alone. I worry about everything. The nights, however, are still the worst by far. Some nights my anxiety affects me so badly that I feel like I can’t breathe, and end up shaking and sobbing in my bed. Sometimes getting up and reading helps, other times I can’t focus on the words. The biggest balm for my soul is having Jeff at home, but he works nights so I am often left to fight my demons alone.
By now I’ve learned a few tricks to head off a panic attack. Focusing on a deep breath, letting my belly expand as I breathe in, helps. Simply getting out of my own head and doing some writing or reading a book can also be helpful. These things are only helpful if I catch it before it reaches the state of a full blown panic attack. Once that has happened, there’s nothing to do but wait it out and try to recover as best I can afterward.
These days I just take things one day at a time. If anyone reading this suffers from anxiety, know you are not alone. It’s a difficult road to travel, but sometimes reaching out to someone, just to talk, can help ease your misery. If you don’t know who to talk to, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org . I’m a pretty great listener.
My thanks to Bonnie for allowing me to share my story, and I hope perhaps it helps people understand what it’s like to deal with anxiety, and perhaps abate the loneliness for someone who also fights the battle.