Friday, 9 August 2019


The CAMH states the following about Anxiety Disorders:  

"Each of these anxiety disorders is distinct in some ways, but they all share the same hallmark features:  
-irrational and excessive fear 
-apprehensive and tense feelings 
-difficulty managing daily tasks and/or distress related to these tasks."
I can tell you for a fact that the fear I was feeling was not irrational.  Not to me. It was real and true and so when I read things like this I thought to myself, well... that doesn't sound right, I'm not dealing with irrational thoughts, my fears aren't excessive... it was sort of confusing.  The "apprehensive and tense" feelings?  Yeah... that was for sure going on.  And while I'm not sure I was aware I was having difficulty managing daily tasks, I certainly was noticing distress... which I guess I could say was causing difficulty. 

They go on to say "The physical symptoms of anxiety may be mistaken for symptoms of a physical illness, such as a heart attack."

And this is what I've heard repeatedly from tv and media, that people having a panic attack think they're having a heart attack.

I didn't.  I KNEW something was wrong with me.  I was having physical symptoms that I had never encountered before and that were disturbing enough that I knew I had to go to the doctor.  But at no point did I or have I ever thought I was having a heart attack.

(Other than the time years ago I unknowingly pulled and intercostal muscle and was having chest pains and did indeed think I was having a heart attack!  Spoiler, I wasn't, yay!)

I am not an expert in anxiety, but I have come to learn that it isn't necessarily going to present in a stereotypical way and it isn't going to look or feel the same way on everyone.  

I wondered for a while if maybe I was going into very early menopause?  Were my hormones going wacky in some way?

So it was the combination of the thoughts and the physical distress that lead me to going to my doctor.  I have to say I'm grateful for her.  Because I'd known her for years, she recognized that I was in great distress.  Now that she has retired and I've gotten a new doctor, I'm realizing that things might have gone very differently had I been with, say, this new doctor.  I wasn't walking in saying "hey, I think I might be manifesting the physical and mental symptoms of an anxiety disorder!" I was walking in going "I'm really not ok and I don't know why, help?!"  So having a doctor that had known me over many years was probably really helpful in that situation.

Like I said, I don't remember much of that initial visit other than it was apparently long, and I'm pretty sure I cried (maybe a lot, not sure.)


Jason Langlois said...

I suppose the definition of the "irrational" fear (and you're so right about it seeming perfectly rational) is when everyone tells you there's nothing to be afraid of, or you're worrying too much, or acts like your concerns are in fact irrational. Of course, I remember feeling like 'they' were all just not thinking clearly about it, since they couldn't see the perfectly reasonable reasons I had for not going to X (where X was the beach, or the PNE, or the party, or onto the dance floor or whatever).

I am glad your doctor was able to see you needed help.

Elliott said...

I can tell these last few posts have been very hard for you to write. I hope that they have been somewhat helpful to you too.

I haven't had to deal with anxiety but I think I deal with depression at some level. I call it storm clouds. They float into my head and make it hard to see show things are ok. You're far braver than I am as you took the steps you needed to talk to the right professionals. That takes a lot of guts.

Our eldest deals with anxiety and I'm usually her go to person to help her talk herself down. Anxiety is real and it can be really hard to get over. I'm glad you're making progress.

I hope you continue to get help and feel better.

Victoria said...

Yeah Jason, it's like "no, you just don't understand" and this sense of I'm not concerned about aliens or something "irrational" like... that these are LEGIT concerns! *hugs*

Thanks Elliott, and you're right, they have been hard to write but I'm hoping they're helpful in the long run! And I'm so glad your eldest has you and feels comfortable talking through her anxiety with you, that's an amazing gift. You rock!