Three Out Of Fucking Five

My friends they wanna take me to the movies
I tell ’em to fuck off I’m holding hands with my depression
And right when I think I’ve overcome it
Anxiety starts kicking in to teach that shit a lesson
Oh I try my best just to be social
I make all these plans with friends and hope they call and cancel
Then I overthink about the things I’m missing
Now I’m wishing I was with ’em

Feel like I’m always apologizing for feeling
Like I’m out of my mind when I’m doing just fine
And my exes all say that I’m hard to deal with
And I admit it, it’s true

The second “paragraph” of those lyrics, from the song Anxiety by Julia Michaels ft. Selena Gomez, was initially posted in my L Is For Lyrics post last year in July. I resonated deeply with the song then, and I resonate with it even more deeply now, because it helps me feel that I am not alone in my anxiety.

I first wrote about my struggle with anxiety in A Is For Anxiety last year in January as the inaugural post of The Alphabet Series. However as I reread that post while writing this one, it is painfully clear just how worse my anxiety has become in just over a year.

The description for my Mental Health category begins:

I am a WIP on the road to recovery from PTSD. I also have OCD, and every now and then my Anxiety threatens to overwhelm me.

I put up that description when I launched the category on World Mental Health Day last year as I shared my story and revealed just why mental health is so personal to me. In the four months since October 10, 2019, I have moved from my anxiety threatening to overwhelm me every now and then to it feeling like it is going to finish me sometimes.

According to WebMD:

Everyone feels anxious now and then. It’s a normal emotion. For example, you may feel nervous when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision.

Anxiety disorders are different, though. They are a group of mental illnesses, and the distress they cause can keep you from carrying on with your life normally.

The main types of anxiety disorders according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services are:

    1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – an anxiety disorder characterized by chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke it.
    2. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – an anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviours (compulsions).
    3. Panic Disorder – an anxiety disorder characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms that may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress.
    4. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened.
    5. Social Phobia, or Social Anxiety Disorder – an anxiety disorder characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations. Social phobia can be limited to only one type of situation – such as a fear of speaking in formal or informal situations, or eating or drinking in front of others – or, in its most severe form, may be so broad that a person experiences symptoms almost anytime they are around other people.

For anyone keeping tabs, you may have noticed that out of the five major anxiety disorders I suffer from three of them, namely GAD, OCD and PTSD. Three out of fucking five! Which is distressing enough as it is, but to make things worse, on February 1, 2020, I had a panic attack, albeit a mild one.

Let me explain.

In W Is For WIP I shared that during my first official session with my therapist on October 31, 2019, she gave me some assessment forms to fill. One of those forms was the Washington Early Recognition Center Affectivity and Psychosis (WERCAP) screen, a self-report questionnaire originally developed to identify clinical risk for developing bipolar or psychotic disorders. The questionnaire is complimented with the WERC Stress Screen and the WERC Substance Screen, which screen for stress levels and substance abuse respectively. In my WERCAP screen results I scored highly for PTSD and OCD, though my GAD score was low.

I am not yet ready to talk about my PTSD, but you can read about my struggle with OCD here. According to my therapist, while OCD is an anxiety disorder by itself, it is also a symptom of anxiety. Which explains why I had a low GAD score; my GAD had decreased in tandem with the increase of my OCD. Which makes sense because around the time I was seeing my therapist last year, my OCD was so rampant it was the main reason I decided to seek professional help.

But now, the reverse is the case in that my GAD has increased while my OCD has decreased. To let you in, one way in which my OCD has decreased is that I no longer take ages checking and rechecking that all the necessary lights and sockets are off, and doors are locked, before leaving my house. There was once I inadvertently timed myself and to my complete shock it took me eight minutes to leave the house. I live in a one bedroom house so making sure everything is in order should ideally not take me more than one minute… max one minute and a half. But there was a day it took me eight motherfucking minutes! So my theory is because I now have a boyfriend 🙂 I do not want him to think I am a weirdo who needs eight minutes to make sure her house is in order, so I limit myself to one or two checks per room even though doing so leaves me deeply unsettled.

For the most part my anxiety is usually alleviated when I am around people, but since December 2019 being inside my head when I am alone can be a nightmare, mostly due to overthinking.

I got all these thoughts running through my mind
All the damn time and I can’t seem to shut it off
I think I’m doing fine most of the time
I think that I’m alright, but I can’t seem to shut it off

Similar to Julia and Selena in those lyrics, I find myself struggling with thoughts I cannot seem to shut off. I will latch onto a thought, usually one that I am better off not thinking about, and I get so fixated by it that no matter how hard I try I cannot seem to shut it off. This in turn causes me to spiral because for the life of me I cannot understand why I am unable to control my thoughts. Being in that spiral, in that seemingly endless loop of unconstructive thoughts, really does a number on me in my quiet moments, more so at night. Some nights I sleep quite well, on others I toss and turn for most of the night because my mind cannot STFU. This was notably worse in January because after tossing and turning for hours, when I managed to sleep I would find myself plagued by weird dreams of death and/or my mum.

On February 1, from around 11 a.m. I started feeling like my stomach was in knots. The best way I can explain my stomach being in knots is the way one sometimes feels when you get very excited about something, and you feel that excitement in your stomach mpaka you cannot even eat. Except in my case, that feeling in my stomach was not driven by excitement but by fear. By dread. I was dreading something, but I have no idea what. What started with my stomach being in knots moved to my heart beating really fast and feeling like I wanted to cry as the day went by. I remember sitting on my couch that Saturday and actively wishing that my mum was still around, something I do not do often. I miss my mum all the time, and there are days I passively wish she was still around, but I rarely actively wish so. I was so overwhelmed by what I was feeling that Saturday that I texted a cousin of mine to let her know that my anxiety really had me by the balls that day and I did not know what to do.

I talked to my therapist about it during my session last week and she said that part of it was me grieving my mum that day, which is normal as grief is not a linear process. But the other part of it was that I had also experienced a mild panic attack. So I thought back on previous times I had irrationally experienced abdominal distress and heart palpitations, and I realised that I had experienced mild panic attacks a number of times before – especially in December 2019, more so during the Christmas period – I just did not know it at the time because no one had articulated it to me.

Why do I struggle so much with anxiety to the point that I get mild panic attacks? I do not really know, though we have some theories we are working through with my therapist that I will probably share with time. What I do know is that while there are indeed many times my anxiety wins the battle, whatever it takes *Avengers voice* I will not let it win the war.

2 thoughts on “Three Out Of Fucking Five

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