A deeper dive - Generalised Anxiety Disorder
People with Generalised Anxiety Disorder worry about the same types of things that everybody else does in their lives:
- work or school,
- their health and the health of loved ones,
- relationships with friends or work colleagues,
- minor matters, such as punctuality or making small decisions.
What does it does it feel like to experience Generalised Anxiety Disorder ? (Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash)
"I knew the feelings were not rational and that the reality was quite different, but I couldn't control the anxious response and it made me feel powerless and trapped in my anxious feelings".By Edna
"The main advice I had received from my GP was to 'learn to relax more' and from my friends to 'snap out of it' It was a huge relief to get a proper diagnosis".by Sue
"Instead of being labelled unsympathetically by family and my GPs as a 'highly strung, nervous child', a 'stressed out, panicky teenager' a 'jumpy, angst-ridden university student' and having to hide my feelings at work, I could finally say that I had 'generalised anxiety disorder', which was medical condition that could be treated and controlled".by Harry
"Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?" "Supposing it didn't," said Pooh after careful thought. Piglet was comforted by this.
Below is Rob's ,National Mind blog May 28, 2020. I going to explore his blog through the eyes of Piglet.
A year's pandemic experience and three lockdowns, have fueled up ever more choppy waves of uncertainty feelings in most of us.
Remember the pre-covid chore of supermarket shopping ? An essential weekly routine. Performed many times with little thought or planning. We now have much more to think about to keep ourselves – and others – safe. Twenty four hour rolling news and Facebook opinions keep topping up those uncertainty emotion waves.
Would Piglet risk assess each aspect of his visit to the supermarket by repeatedly rehearsing trip details ? When Piglet is out shopping , does he worry that he is 'not doing it right' feeling others will be watching and judging ? Will he wake at night worrying about relatives, friends, neighbours worrying if they are safe...?
Rob points out anxiety is physically and emotionally exhausting. Some days it's too much to get dressed at all. How can you possibly relax with your mind in such an unrelenting spin? Rob invites us to imagine being hit by uncertainty when getting a pop-up message on your smartphone. Covid 19 is like a 'such-and-such' app constantly running in the background emotionally draining, your battery'. Whatever we're doing, whatever we are focusing our attention on, there's always another train of thought rumbling away in the background (or the foreground). This pesky app that won't switch off, always draining our energies.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder worries are like music that's constantly playing: the songs may change from hour to hour or day to day, the volume may be higher or lower, but you can always hear it in the background.
Right now, can you remember the last time you weren't thinking about Covid 19 ?
Seconds ? Minutes ? Hours ? Days ? Weeks ? Months ?
Pretty constant everyday ? This is how Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) can feel pandemic or not.
Rob asks us to reflect on what must it be like to worrying about things even when we know they're beyond our control… the more we think about them, the more there is to worry about.
Rob then asks us to imagine pandemic fears have now eased; that "pesky covid app" has finally switched off and we've reclaimed some safe headspace. Anxiety levels have reduced to pre-pandemic levels. For those living with diagnosable GAD, 'pre-pandemic' anxiety levels were exactly the sort of thing everyone experienced in the depths of the crisis.
When worry isn't problematic, you can often choose to put your worries aside and either not think about them at all or think about them at some other time. But a person experiencing Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) worry thoughts become a problem. This means that once you start worrying, it's hard to stop, even if you try. These worries are free floating - many different things in your everyday life. GAD can hop from issue to issue, often attaching to many things at the same time. (Photo by Finn on Unsplash).
In the 1950's, people experiencing anxiety disorders usually received a generic diagnosis of 'stress' or 'nerves'. It was only in the 1980's, anxiety disorders were recognised for the first time as a separate diagnosis. To be a diagnosable condition, you need to experience GAD (too much worry, that you cannot control) for more than six months. These experiences interfere with work, home and relationships.
"When it's really bad I feel a continual sense of dread - as if something bad is going to happen but I don't know what,".
"It's like walking down a dark alley at night time and at the same time, waiting at the top of a rollercoaster and at the same time about to go to into a job interview."
Human beings are very good at anticipating the future. Planning things is what we do at home and in our personal relationships. This helps us solve problems and live better work and home lives. The future is bright. Worry can be thought of as mentally planning and preparing for the future, building elaborate scenarios in an effort to predict what could happen and working out how you could solve the anticipated problem,
However for those that experience GAD, the future is full of "what if" scenarios (what if we run into debt) Many what if thought can paint the future dark and negative. Simply future thinking turns a bright future into a scary one, this in turns triggers our "fight and flight",. Rather than being haunted by past trauma we are being traumatised by the anticipated horror of everyday things such as work, money or relationships.
App based Mindfulness exercises are increasing being used to claim back lives from anxiety. Reclaim your headspace and visit their website. Headspace features fun illustrations and well-structured courses, making it a good option for those who are new to meditation.
Pooh asked Piglet what would they do if a tree fell down on them. Ask for help might be Piglet's answer.
When you meet someone at work, saying Hello is usually followed by how are you ? It is a polite way of saying Hi. Your work colleague knows this and replies " I am OK". But if you have a gut feeling it is not a honest answer, ask again "are you sure you are OK" ? It may be Piglet emotionally trapped under a fallen tree.
The Time for Change campaign wants people to 'Ask Twice' if they suspect a friend, family member, or a work colleague might be struggling with their mental health. The simple act of asking again, with interest, can help someone to open up for the first time. Click below to watch the 1 min video.