Friday, August 5, 2011

Anxiety

A few semesters back I took an advanced abnormal psychology class, which was basically a diagnostic class for mental disorders. As we were studying phobias, I found mine. I have a Specific Phobia of the natural environment. This would apply to heights, thunderstorms��, darkness, and aging.

Three out of four, I'd say yes.

Last summer when we went to Estes Park, we took a tram up a mountain. There was a walk way at the top and you could also walk around on the mountain. I've always had issues with being in high places and being afraid of what could happen, but it was ten-fold worse there. I was scared the entire tram ride, and really only went because my entire family was going. Once we got to the top I was freaking out at being so high, being on a metal walkway atop a mountain, etc etc. Archer wanted to run and play which made my heart stop, and eventually I had to just sit down and breathe because I was literally having an anxiety attack at being that high. I didn't know that's what it was at the time, but looking back now I know that's what it was.

As long as I can remember, I've been deathly afraid of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. In the spring time, I watch the news incessantly and watch all kinds of weather to find out what's happening all week. This past spring I began following several news and weather pages on facebook. Each of our local news stations post weather updates, and a friend's brother is a storm chaser and I also followed his page. On days that weather alerts were issued I was glued to my phone. I kept it on me, and checking facebook every chance I could. It was completely unhealthy, but it felt so necessary.

There were several days that they posted extremely dangerous situations for the days weather and those days were awful. I could hardly focus, I didn't eat. One of those days they basically placed a bulls eye on us for tornadoes. I came home from work, got Archer, and made a bag of clothes for both us to go to my sister's basement. I was so worked up that I could hardly make it into my car or buckle Archer's seatbelt. I would also say that was an anxiety attack, but not so bad that it really kept me from doing anything. More like, I had to get somewhere that I felt safe and I wasn't letting anything stop me.

The next one on the list, darkness. Dark doesn't really affect me as much as the other two, but I don't enjoy being anywhere without a light. I absolutely hate walking through my back yard in the dark. I'm more afraid of what could be in the dark. It got even worse a few weeks ago when I was watching Criminal Minds and this guy was utilizing the blackouts in California to rape and murder women. One woman was even attacked because she went ahead and opened her door then when back to get her baby out of the car. That really bothered me and I had to turn it off there. After that I didn't even like walking past the windows in my house after dark. I was really afraid something might be looking in. I'm sure that sounds crazy, but I even had to buy a heavy curtain for the back door.

I'm not at all afraid of aging or dying, though I don't think on the process with joy, I know it's out of my hands. Everyone ages.

Anxiety was something that I thought other people dealt with, and never realized I dealt with it some myself until after I studied it more. I know that if you really looked into most of the disorders in the DSM you could find yourself on lots of pages, but this was something that I truly acknowledged in myself. Right now just awareness and focusing on relaxing are the only thing I need, and I hope to always be able to manage it in that way.





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2 comments:

Corinne said...

Anxiety sucks. I still have bouts of severe anxiety from time to time, as well as constant mini-anxiety attacks. I also spent over a year locked in my house because of agoraphobia. Life can bite sometimes.

If you ever need an ear, feel free to holler at me. While I managed my severe attacks with chemical weapons, self-hypnosis relaxation files and pillow-punching also worked well. :)

Ali said...

I know how you feel. :( I have lots of anxiety. Anxiety of tornadoes being one (I'm glad to be leaving Kansas), but also social anxiety. I tend to obsess and think about what if horrible things happened to my kids, and I'll have nightmares about them. It is hard to be at peace when you have so much turmoil going on inside.

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