Something I’ve recently had to learn to differentiate is regular anxiety VS my actual anxiety disorders. Because I have generalized anxiety disorder, this can be a huge challenge. Still, it’s helpful for me to know when I’m having normal, my-life-is-really-busy-so-I-feel-stressed-out anxiety or actual I-shouldn’t-be-worried-about-this-but-I-am anxiety. How can I tell the difference?
Why would I even want to know the difference, you may ask. Well, I keep track of my actual anxiety symptoms and highs and lows. This way I can figure out triggers and patterns, let me psychologist know, and work on those things. But at some point, everyone feels anxiety. My husband Jeff is the calmest person I know, but during exam season…yeah. He’s stressed. He’s a little anxious. Most people in university are. That’s normal. He has very clear periods of high stress, and then they go away.
But I don’t have that. I’m always stressed. I live in a constant state of anxiety, even during the low periods my anxiety levels are much higher than someone who doesn’t suffer from an anxiety disorder. Last year, I was in my fourth year of university, I was working on publishing a book, and I was engaged and planning a wedding. I was stressed. Wouldn’t anyone be?
Two years ago, I developed an intense fear of dying in my sleep. I would sleep with the lights on, the TV on, and usually on the floor. This only lasted a few months. Thankfully, my psychologist helped me through that. This was very clear anxiety disorder anxiety.
But right now, I think I’m experiencing both and it’s hard to deal with. I’m in school, I’m newly married, I’m trying to work on my writing portfolio and I have a job. Yeah, I’m sure this would make even the most chillaxed person feel stressed out. But I started feeling stressed beyond normal levels. I started to feel hopeless. This is a big red flag telling me my stress is not just regular anxiety anymore. It’s moved into anxiety disorder territory. I don’t really know what to do with these multiple layers of anxiety. I still see a counsellor and I talk to my parents about it and I’m open with my husband about it, but I feel stuck.
I know how to deal with regular stress. I know how to deal with my anxiety disorders (heck, I’ve had them my entire life!) But this weird combination…what do I do with it?! I don’t have an answer.
I don’t really know why I’m even posting this. At the beginning of the post I felt like I had a clear direction but now it’s sort of turned into a muddled rant. The other day I was working (I work part-time as a children’s ministry intern at my church) and I had a breakdown in front of my supervisor. I NEVER cry in front of people. But I couldn’t hold back. That’s how you know it was serious. She told me I could stop working, but I refused, at least the work distracted me from the thoughts that I would never get the chance to rest again and my life would be a busy mess of work and school and volunteer jobs and relationship work and family relationship work for the foreseeable future.
Honestly, I think I just need a vacation.