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Topic: Clarification on Generalised Anxiety Disorder - Is this what I am feeling?

19 posts, 0 answered
  1. ConfusedNanxious
    ConfusedNanxious avatar
    24 posts
    17 December 2019

    Hi there,

    I recently separated from my partner, and having had anxiety in the past, big life changes seem to ignite my anxiety. My last episode was as a result of my uni degree finishing and possibly not having any direction in life, and I am now suffering from anxiety as well.

    So from first instance, it would seem that my anxiety is situational. But then, it just keeps on going...

    I start to suffer physical symptoms that my mind just can't get under control. There's the heart palpitations and general muscle shakes, and then the lack of appetite as well. And these symptoms last weeks, with no firm resolution ever just occurring.

    My mind starts racing, and not only are my thoughts about the 'triggering event' but morph into 'worry about worry' and concern my self esteem and confidence - thoughts like: whether I am good enough, whether my anxiety will go away, whether I can ever be a truly functioning human being and whether I can truly live a full life?

    I have seen (and am seeing) a psychologist and she asserts that what I am dealing with is GAD (with depression), because I certainly have my crying moments as well, and general down moments where 'I can't break through the ceiling of happiness'. My emotions have become muted.

    Is what I am feeling normal for GAD? Am I normal? Is this normal?

    Feeling so exhausted from my thoughts and my body being in such a tense state.

    Any other stories of dealing with GAD would be greatly appreciated.

    Sending love and support to all those in similar situations.

    - ConfusedNAnxious

  2. romantic_thi3f
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    romantic_thi3f avatar
    382 posts
    17 December 2019 in reply to ConfusedNanxious

    Hi ConfusedNAnxious,

    You are normal, you are normal, this is normal. I'm sorry that you're struggling so much and I know how awful it can be but please know that what you're feeling is shared by so many people. If you ever get a chance, have a look through the anxiety threads and I am certain that you'll find people who are sharing the same experiences as you.

    I personally have GAD and depression too, and I know that they are considered 'cousins'. The worry and heart palpitations are very much related to anxiety, and the feelings of being 'good enough' and having muted emotions are very much related to depression. It's a combo.

    While I'm not sure what your sessions look like with the psychologist, hopefully they are giving you some coping strategies or helping you think a little bit differently about things. All of us have the capacity to rewire our brain which basically means that while your life is hard right now, what you are feeling isn't permanent. You can live a full life and you can absolutely be a functional human being.

    I hope that this gives you some reassurance. Keep reaching out and asking questions! You are not alone in all of this.

    rt

    1 person found this helpful
  3. ConfusedNanxious
    ConfusedNanxious avatar
    24 posts
    17 December 2019 in reply to romantic_thi3f

    Hi rt,

    Thank you for your message.

    Tears actually welled up in my eyes when you said - You can live a full life and you can absolutely be a functional human being.

    That is what I want more than anything. I want so desperately to be happy and content in my mind and my body.

    Some days, like today, I feel more sad than anything else. I feel sad that I am not happy, if that makes sense?

    I am currently at work at the moment, and just feel like crying. I am so tired of it all.

    From some of my other posts on here, I have been dealing with so much emotional upheaval and family pressure. It has been hard to know what I want to do with myself. I want to be so strong and independent and experience so much in life. But my heart aches for my ex - he had depression that was unresolved and we had to split up.

    I am so sad, and if I am not sad, I am anxious about everything - my own future, what life will be like if I don't see him again, if I do (my parents don't want that). And i miss my pets that are with him.

    And this is all compounded by the fact that my GAD has been triggered, and so many emotions (most of them uncontrollable) are running around unchecked.

    Thank you for listening to me vent. My mental health issues and general life circumstances, make life so difficult at the moment.

  4. Betternow
    Betternow avatar
    80 posts
    17 December 2019 in reply to ConfusedNanxious

    Hi there ConfusedNanxious

    Let me compliment you on your articulate writing skills. It's a great gift.

    Yep, those symptoms you describe fit neatly into the GAD diagnosis. Te trigger points you describe are well known and common. That's the bad news.

    The good news is you can learn to manage anxiety and that will often improve your depression too. In my own case, i discovered my first therapy with a psychologist wasn't as helpful as I was hoping. I didn't apply myself to the exercises as diligently as I should have so I have to some responsibility. Five years later, I undertook more therapy and bingo, we clicked. I had a dramatic improvement. I still have to be mindful of my living habits in order to stay well.

    Here's a few tips that I use to stay well.

    Minimise intake of caffeine and alcohol.

    Develop sound sleep habits.

    Don't over commit to plans, invitations and work deadlines.

    Avoid or at least minimise bad news films, stories etc

    Don't get sucked into social media crap.

    Practice, practice, practice all the mind exercises your therapist recommends.

    1 person found this helpful
  5. romantic_thi3f
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    romantic_thi3f avatar
    382 posts
    18 December 2019 in reply to ConfusedNanxious

    Hi ConfusedNanxious,

    Oh you are so welcome - I'm glad that it meant so much to you and I really do mean it. I'd be happy to reassure you of that anytime.

    It makes absolute sense that you'd be sad because you're not happy - it sounds like you are going through so much, and while I haven't read your other posts I know there's a part of me that doesn't need to because I can see how much you are struggling here. Of course you would be feeling sad and tired - it is exhausting work! Also - it's totally okay to cry. Ideally at home (ha!) - but if that's what's going to help, allow it.

    How are things going with your psychologist?

    Vent away. It's a safe space here. I'm giving you virtual hugs if you want them.

    rt

  6. ConfusedNanxious
    ConfusedNanxious avatar
    24 posts
    18 December 2019 in reply to romantic_thi3f

    Hi rt,

    Your messages help immensely. I thank you so much for taking the time to reach out and type a few words to me.

    To know that happiness and true contentedness is a concept still available to me, is something that I do treasure. Because I really want to get back to myself and to be uninhibited in my happiness. I want to feel confident again and really relish in all that I do for myself.

    I often find myself getting through the day, then just retiring relatively early to bed, watching trash TV and lying on my floor cuddling my dog.

    I am also feeling a bit suffocated by my mum in particular - she has been rearranging my room without my permission and criticising me at least once a day - about my clothes, my appearance, everything.

    I just feel so tired all the time, with general life and even being at home now (supposedly a safe space to be).

    When my anxiety got so bad (the start of this anxiety period), I took the time to write a list of goals and then each day I wrote what I did and corresponded that with my goals. That way I could start seeing that I was capable of functioning even with the anxiety present. And I even pushed myself a bit more to do things that even when I felt fine I wouldn't have done.

    At work, I pushed myself to be more social. I took the time to engage with people. Like, if I saw a book they were reading - I would spark up a conversation about it. Just stuff like that. Which has helped my confidence a bit, but my mind still really needs to click into gear to acknowledge what I have been doing for myself.

    As for my psychologist, the last appointment I had, my parents came along to help provide my psychologist with some of their insights as to what was going on with me.

    I definitely have a lot of self-confidence issues, and a detrimental need to look after others before myself. So, so far, my sessions have been predominately exploratory in discussing the issues I believe I have (i.e what are my anxiety triggers, and my GAD generally).

    At the end of the last session, I did specify that I now want to work explicitly on some more Cognitive Behavioural Therapy strategies and really start rewiring my brain (as you mentioned in your first post).

    I look forward to just feeling 'lighter' and more free in my actions. The depression cloud associated with this anxiety can be a real bummer to deal with as well.

    I am readily accepting your virtual hugs, and send you some in return.

    I hope to hear from you again soon.

    Once again, thanks so much.

  7. Step Twelve
    Step Twelve avatar
    0 posts
    19 December 2019 in reply to ConfusedNanxious
    Hi ConfusedNanxious.

    Isn't it a huge relief to have a plan? Reading through your experiences, I can identify with many of them. My anxiety began with occasional panic attacks, which then became more frequent, and then kind of morphed into attacks of complete despair and hopelessness. My psychologist said that a panic disorder can easily transform into depression if it gets too intense for too long.

    I responded really well to CBT, and I hope it works for you too. Your exercise in journaling your goals and achievements so that you can see things more objectively is already similar to how CBT works (just be careful not to be too demanding or hard on yourself during this period of recovery). You seem like a pragmatic and insightful thinker, so CBT should gel with you easily.

    I also had some medication for about 18 months which seemed to make CBT easier. Once I was familiar with the techniques (and I guess some "rewiring" had happened), I worked with my psychologist and GP to gradually come off the medication.

    It sounds like you have a number of things to work through with your psychologist, so try to be patient with the process and stick with it for a while. Also, don't be afraid to ask for someone different if you're not quite connecting with your current therapist. It can sometimes take a few tries to find someone whose personality and techniques work for you.

    It actually sounds like you're doing great, even though you're feeling pretty down lately. You're getting expert help, pushing yourself to do things despite the disinclinations of anxiety/depression, you're reaching out to others with similar experiences, and you have a really promising plan for recovery. All that makes more a pretty great prognosis!

    Do stay in touch, and I hope you have a great Christmas.
  8. ConfusedNanxious
    ConfusedNanxious avatar
    24 posts
    19 December 2019 in reply to Step Twelve

    Hi Step Twelve,

    During my first anxiety episode, I started on CBT and it did seem to work, and I was well on the way to recovery (and for a while there I did seem completely recovered).

    But given that it (anxiety) has reared its ugly head again, I have started delving deeper into the reasons why I react to life changes like this. As in, my body goes into anxiety mode when big changes (that directly affect me individually) occur.

    Having spoken to my psychologist (with the input of my mum), it seems that some childhood factors could be at play. When I was about 12, my twin sister developed OCD surrounding keeping external things outside her bedroom - including me. I think during that time, I may have been scarred by what I was seeing her go through, and this may have inadvertently caused me to really care about people (but to my detriment). I catered to her compulsions so that I could spend time with her and have the most quality time with my best friend. Later on, my sister developed a major anxiety disorder but entered recovery, just like her OCD. She does however, always seem to run on a baseline of unchecked anxiety and this has implications for her health too - she is very skinny and eats very little. I think this has effected me, and given she is younger (by a few minutes) there is this natural compulsion to look out for her.

    This is something that I will need to talk about my psychologist about, but given that I developed mechanisms to care for others rather than myself, the anxiety (and thoughts of hopelessness etc.) may be brought on by the fact that I now need to re-orientate my thoughts to focus on myself and my own well being - something which I haven't really done in the past. And I am now fearful of that on a subconscious level.

    I have always been a highly empathetic person as well - always the shoulder to cry and lean on. When my grandfather died, and there was a big commotion among my mum and her 10! other siblings, I became her sounding board and felt isolated from everyone as my mum was doing the most ethical things as the executor of his will (but all the siblings had their own personal (monetary) interests at heart).

    My first anxiety attack, surrounded the finishing of my law degree (I ended up having to extend it out due to my anxiety). I had four subjects to go, and just woke up one day in the throws of anxiety just after I had finished the previous set of exams.

    So CBT will need to surround this concept and help counter negative ideas

  9. romantic_thi3f
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    romantic_thi3f avatar
    382 posts
    19 December 2019 in reply to ConfusedNanxious

    Hi ConfusedNanxious,

    Oh you are so welcome - it means a lot to me to hear you say that and I'm really glad you've felt like it was okay to share what's been happening with you.

    That sounds so hard - not only are you dealing with anxiety and depression, but coming home to your mum criticising you and moving your things? Home is the one place that's supposed to be a bit of a retreat, but it sounds like you don't really have that there.

    Have you ever talked to your mum about what she's saying or the impact this has on you? You mentioned that your parents came along to the psychologist with you so it makes me wonder if she'd be open to hearing about how your mum can make things a little better.

    That's such a great idea to write down your goals and to push yourself a little out of your comfort zone. That's not an easy step. This is something I do too, kind of - I have a little notebook and I write down the things that I did well, even if they are seemingly little things to other people. Is this something that helped, seeing how 'functional' you can be? I know for me my head is constantly relaying stories about not being good enough or doing enough, so having those reminders really helps me see that I'm actually doing okay.

    CBT also sounds like a great step. It sounds like your psychologist is pretty supportive and on board with helping you feel better and you can click with them too - that alone can be half the battle!

    The other thing I thought I'd ask, or encourage you to think about - are the times where you do feel a little lighter and things do feel a little easier. Even if it's only small snippets, thinking about those times can help. Also, are there places that you can retreat to, and really be yourself, free of criticism?

    rt

    1 person found this helpful
  10. ConfusedNanxious
    ConfusedNanxious avatar
    24 posts
    19 December 2019 in reply to romantic_thi3f

    Hi rt,

    As always, your messages are so insightful.

    It is a hard one, trying to talk to my mum. Because often, when I do bring up the concepts of boundaries, she automatically thinks I am hiding something or there is something wrong with me (i.e. an increase in my mental health issues, for example).

    My mum means well, but I also know her better than anyone else, and so her caring is often portrayed as being 'overly observant' where she is constantly watching and waiting and insinuating things that aren't true.

    On the flip side, she has been checking in more with me each day (in a more positive manner). She checks how I am feeling each morning, which is nice because I can see there is a bit more understanding there.

    Being able to see how 'functional' I am each day has certainly provided some more 'normality' to my days. Although my mind is yet to fully catch up to what my body has been doing (i.e. achieving the different goals), I have come a fair way in terms of the initial spark of this GAD.

    I am seeing glimpses of 'goodness' in each day. A lot of it has to do with spending time with my dog, but these feelings have also transferred to work, so it is nice to know that work is somewhat enjoyable (and a place to be away from family for a while).

    Apart from my own bedroom in the family home, I don't have a lot of space to myself. But spending time walking my dog helps refresh my mind a fair bit.

    It's funny how anxiety infects everything, and I was so apprehensive to even message a friend on Facebook to talk because I didn't want my anxiety hanging over the top of me. But I have been pushing myself more to reconnect and connect with many people - old friends, new friends, everyone.

    I have even reconnected with a cousin of mine who lives in another state, but we chat almost every day and talk openly about mental health (much like on this forum).

    So even when anxiety makes my days hard, it has given me the opportunity to connect with a few more people, and that is something pretty special.

    How have you been? I hope you are going well.

    Your posts are always so articulate and a pleasure to read - as they are so kind and caring, and considerate.

    - CnA

  11. romantic_thi3f
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    romantic_thi3f avatar
    382 posts
    20 December 2019 in reply to ConfusedNanxious

    Hi ConfusedNanxious,

    Thank you so much for your kind words; they really do mean so much to me and I'm so glad that it's helping. Just to show you how much it matters, I've taken a screenshot of your post so I can read it when I'm not doing well! So I really do appreciate your comments and I'm so grateful for them.

    As to your mum, I think it's a strength that you've looked at what she does as her way of caring rather than just being a pain! Even with rearranging you room; while that must be annoying, it's probably her way of thinking 'Here's one thing I can do to make it better'. Hearing that she's checking in is also really good! Have you ever told her how certain things help and how certain things are not so helpful? Even if it's less rearranging, more checking in - rather than hard boundaries.

    I feel kind of proud of you (in a non-condensing way of course!) reading the rest of your post; seeing the way that you're thinking about the times that you are being a functional human being, seeing glimpses of goodness both at home and at work and connecting and re-connecting with people.

    Even though a lot of these things bring up anxiety, you're doing them anyway. When opportunities come up - like to message a friend or not, it would be easier to decide not to, but allowing yourself to feel that anxiety and do the thing is such a big leap, and honestly makes you stronger as a person.

    I know CBT has been a big focus in this post, but there is another one that's really popular for anxiety and depression called ACT. One of the concepts I just wanted to share from it is the idea of changing our relationship with our thoughts and feelings, so that we accept them as they are but not necessarily buy into them - for example, instead of me saying "I'm just not good enough", I might say "there's the 'I'm not good enough' story, but I don't have to listen to it right now". You are also already doing very similar things with your anxiety, in not letting all of those thoughts and feelings hang out in the drivers seat.

    and yes, I am doing well! Thank you for asking - although it's above 40 degrees all week so I'm seriously not a fan of that..

    I hope this post isn't too long! I hope that if you are to take at least one thing out of it, it's to give yourself a bit of credit and acknowledge how far you've come. I know I can see that and I hope you can too.

    rt

  12. ConfusedNanxious
    ConfusedNanxious avatar
    24 posts
    20 December 2019 in reply to romantic_thi3f

    Hi rt,

    I always get a smile on my face when I see you have responded to one of my posts. You are so insightful and encouraging, and your messages have provided so much reassurance for me over the last weeks.

    With regards to my Mum, just this morning she said she wants to make a New Year's Resolution to be less overbearing. She acknowledges that she can be pretty full on at times, and she just wants to be encouraging more than anything. So I think that is a good start - that she can see (on her own accord) that her actions can be interpreted as being 'too much' in some instances.

    I have found that pushing myself in spite of my anxiety has helped lessen the symptoms to a sufficient extent. It's still there in the racing thoughts, but the physical shakes and heart palpitations now just simmer along in the background. So my days are becoming predominately functional, just needs to push on with my psychologist and really work on (and continue working on) tangible strategies to become my 'normal'self.

    I recently saw my GP who said a lot of people in my field (law) function with a degree of anxiety, but the fact that I am working on things now in my younger age (with much more of my career ahead of me) will only set me up for better things in the future. Although I think my anxiety stems from circumstances from my past (see about four posts above - in my response to Step 12), I do have perfectionist tendencies like many others in my field.

    Nevertheless, I am working on getting to the bottom of why I react this way to particular life events, and in the meantime, am implementing strategies to make the present moment as enjoyable as possible.

    Sending you only the best of vibes.

    - CnA

  13. smallwolf
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    smallwolf avatar
    282 posts
    21 December 2019 in reply to ConfusedNanxious

    Hi ConfusedNanxious,

    Just came to your post and what to commend you for being able to work on your issues at a younger age. I am nearly 50 and only recently (2 years so) starting to see a psychologist. I ticked all the boxes in cognitive disorders, perfectionist tendencies among other things. When I came to anxiety I had a racing heart, lump in the throat, etc. I am now on medication and those symptoms are pretty much gone. I still have the feelings of uselessness and very critical about mistakes I make etc.

    I want to know that you are alone, and over time you will you will find the answers you are looking for. Just give yourself time - it is not a race to a cure.

    Peace,

    Tim

  14. romantic_thi3f
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    romantic_thi3f avatar
    382 posts
    23 December 2019 in reply to ConfusedNanxious

    Hi ConfusedNanxious,

    Thank you so much for your lovely words (again!). I can't tell you how much they mean to me. Honestly I do doubt myself on the forums sometimes, trying to give support but not knowing if it's helpful or not, so hearing all these feedback is so encouraging. I'm really glad to have been so helpful to you with everything that you've been going through.

    Hearing about your mum has now made me smile, hearing that she really wants to help and make a new years resolution around it. I think acknowledging the overbearingness can be one thing, but wanting to do something - such a big step.

    It's also wonderful to hear that some of the symptoms are now simmering in the background. In your first post it sounded like they were really out of control, so to hear this is such great news.

    It makes complete sense that anxiety can stem from what you had to go through with your sister. While I don't have a sister myself, I know that it's instinct to want to look out for your family and take care of them in the best way you know how. Unfortunately it seems that it had a knock on effect to your mental health - I imagine that this would happen with anybody. I hope that your psychologist is supportive in helping you dive into this.

    If I don't talk to you before then, I hope that you enjoy your Christmas break. :)

    rt

  15. ConfusedNanxious
    ConfusedNanxious avatar
    24 posts
    27 December 2019 in reply to romantic_thi3f

    Hi rt (and others),

    Just a few developments to note, and I would love some advice as well.

    A few days ago, my mum started meddling around in my room (what was the guise of fixing up my wardrobe), but then she started saying stuff to me that she could have only known if she read the journal I have been keeping for my psychologist. So she has indeed invaded my privacy to the extreme. I haven't pulled her up on this, but it is the only logical explanation for the stuff she knows (which she has claimed to know because she is simply 'perceptive').

    Anyway, that affected me quite a bit, but I have managed to be quite functioning these last few days (to a week). I have actually been quite happy, and after that incident with my mum, she came around and reiterated the fact that she needs to 'step back' a bit and let me lead my own life. So, there is a constant back and forth with her attitude that can be a bit exhausting. But our relationship has been better, despite that invasion of privacy.

    I still aim to meet up with my ex in the new year. The redevelopment of a relationship with him has drastic consequences for my living situation (as my parents have both reiterated numerous times before). But I still want to see him, because we never separated on harsh terms - everything just got really complicated.

    Regardless, I think he wants to really start afresh, and I would love to navigate any kind of friendship or relationship with him. But I don't want him to be restricted by my own restrictions. I want him to have a relationship with someone who wouldn't have to hide it from the world (or her parents). But I also really miss him, but maybe the timing isn't right all round. I still have stuff to sort out regarding my own mental health issues, and he does too.

    We just had so many plans before my parents really laid down the law regarding us seeing each other again. We were going to join a games group together, and have our dogs play together again. We were just going to see if we could be happy together again.

    Sometimes I feel like I could go it alone, but other times I really think about the possibilities of us together again.

    I just feel lost, particularly when I am trying to navigate the relationship with my parents, the possibility of a relationship with my ex and my own individual goals and mental health concerns.

    I want to eventually buy my own house for me and my dog, but need to stay at home with my parents to achieve my saving goals.

    Definitely feeling lost.

  16. ConfusedNanxious
    ConfusedNanxious avatar
    24 posts
    13 January 2020 in reply to ConfusedNanxious

    Hi rt,

    I hope you are still around on these forums. I really love hearing from you.

    Within the context of my previous message, I wanted to provide an update on my situation.

    I have recently found the physical symptoms of my anxiety have simmered away and I'm able to function and think of the future and my own personal goals.

    I have really started to feel a 'good sense of anxiety' in that I am excited for the future. When I feel it, I tell myself that the world is my oyster and I can do anything I put my mind to.

    With that mindset, I have implemented the following:

    - I have enrolled in my last legal course (something that I was originally not planning to do this year).

    - I have set myself the goal of buying my own place.

    - I have committed to stretching myself at work and undertaking some professional development.

    With my psychologist, I have recently discovered (after doing a well known questionnaire) that I have a few maladaptive coping mechanisms from how I've grown up. These are:

    - Enmeshment with my parents (like feeling like I can't keep personal and intimate details from them).

    - Self sacrificing behaviour in that I constantly give to others more than looking after myself. Although caring is part of my nature, and that is valuable, I just need to have suitable boundaries in place.

    - Unrelenting standards where my perfectionism comes through. And I'm a strong critic of myself.

    These are all things I want to work on to become a truly whole, and functioning individual.

    I am aiming to make myself the priority and focus on what I want for myself. Whatever relationship I'm in (parents, sister, boyfriend) I need to always be in control of what I want and need.

    I've got my dog by my side, and I can achieve great things.

  17. smallwolf
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    13 January 2020 in reply to ConfusedNanxious

    Hi ConfusedNanxious,

    I read what you said about what you worked out with your psychologist. Some of the things you mentioned about yourself I have also - perfectionism, self-sacrifice. There are other things that I have also - black and white thinking, labelling and the list goes on. Remember there are pros and cons with each of these, but when they become extreme they are a problem, so its about finding a balance, and I am hopeful that you will with your psychologist. It may take time ...

    As you said, make yourself a priority. Good luck with your studies, and hope to hear from you again sometime.

    Tim

  18. romantic_thi3f
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    romantic_thi3f avatar
    382 posts
    16 January 2020 in reply to ConfusedNanxious

    Hi ConfusedNanxious,

    It's lovely to hear from you again. I am sorry that I haven't replied; I've been away from the forums for a little bit.

    I take it from your post it's probably time to change your username! I'm so happy to hear about what's been happening with you and how things have changed. Seriously - congratulations.

    It also sounds like you've had some great insight into yourself and your behaviour - knowing these things and owning these things is such a strength. Tim is right in that these are pros and cons to each of these, but finding ways to manage them and let go of some of these coping mechanisms can be so helpful.

    I know I've said this before but I hope that the next time that you feel lost, or even doubtful of your capabilities - just scroll up. Seeing the way things have changed for you, and actually in such a short time - shows how much inner strength and resilience that you have. You've not only been able to bounce back from anxiety, but thrive on it.

    rt

  19. Lady Nova
    Lady Nova avatar
    15 posts
    16 January 2020 in reply to ConfusedNanxious

    I have GAD, MDD and c-PTSD and yep! you are my kinda normal!

    What is normal anyway? It is generally what we perceive as everyone else's life experience, but let's be honest ... everyone is messed up one way or another.

    I gave up on normal long ago. I am Pagan, a bit of a hippy, a locavore and a carer for 3 with disability. My life isn't someone else's normal, but I wouldn't want to be any other way. My mental illness doesn't define my lack of normal, my lifestyle and my passions do. I am an inde-bloody-vidual .... and THAT's ok!

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