The God / The Universe / Deity of Choice / Random Circumstances struck oddly, so I thought I’d post and talk about this for a moment. See, I was getting ready to write this week’s article for Advanced Mobile Healthcare, and I look at the list of topics we came up with last year (I still haven’t gotten through all of them, yet), and the top one that I kept avoid that should be easy is “Anxiety”. Additionally, I wanted to write a post (probably entitled “A Moment of Beauty”) that was going to require I explain some things before I do.
Yes, I’ve written a lot about emotional abuse. There’s a whole section of things in my life that I didn’t write about on here, and I’m not going to. It’s a set of secrets that, at the moment, only four people know about. When I have the chance, five will know. Beyond that, well, some things just don’t need to be shared out.
Wrapped into that whole thing is a further story, too – this one, I’ll share. I’ve talked a little bit about the effects of abuse, and well… I understated it a bit. OK, more than a bit. A lot.
While writing about Anxiety Disorders, I ran across this little factoid: 50% of those with ADHD end up with an Anxiety Disorder at some point. Half. Holy shit. 7% of adults may have ADHD (there’s under reporting issues, and over diagnosis issues). That’s a fuckton of people with Anxiety Disorders in just one small segment of the population – that doesn’t account for everyone else. But, of course, the importance of that factoid being I have ADHD (I say as a I gulp down my morning coffee in mid-afternoon in attempt to keep it under control), so I suppose it should be a surprise when I say: I’ve been suffering from multiple Anxiety Disorders. And, trying to hid the fuck out of it.
I won’t go through describing all the info on the disorders, I just wrote an article on it, and once that gets published in a couple of weeks, I’ll possibly link to that. However, I’ll give you highlights: everyone experiences anxiety at some point. That’s just a given of life and the human condition. It might even interfere with getting one thing done (for instance, speaking in front of a crowd: you might experience anxiety, and that may hamper you giveing a good speech.) Anxiety Disorders fall into the category of blocking getting things done on a regular basis, sometimes even a daily basis.
It’s actually been going on for quite a while, though it was slowly getting worse. And, here’s the thing: I’m a strong, brave person. I shouldn’t experience anxiety over anything. That’s not what indestructible people like me do. Except, of course, when we do.
I didn’t bother going to a doctor, of course. I didn’t bother telling anyone. I hid it, more and more. See, there are mental tools for dealing with it, and tools for hiding it. Eventually, though, you’re going to pay the price – you can only hide it so long. Even those tools are going to quit working at some point. And, they’re only good for dealing with others up to a certain point, and they have little effect on your personal life.
So, how bad was it?
On December 31st, I installed two new tools: one of them tracks what apps I’m using, and for how long. The other is project based, and I just hit “play” on which project I’m working on. Anxiety can lead to, well, becoming nearly immobile. I needed to recalibrate how fast I was. In November, the last update I made to League Sports Page took basically most of the day. A lot of that time was looking at the screen, freaked out about all the work I had to do.
Yesterday I did the same set of updates in 30 minutes. I even track writing like this: so far, I’ve been writing for 12 minutes.
Yeah, so, it might have affected my performance. A lot. There’s been a lot of days where I’ve just stared at the screen, or played a game to try and get myself going again. I shut down bad enough at one point that I lost $10,000 by not shipping a game in time (but, don’t get too worried about that: there’s Plan B about to go into action.) Business is always bad in November / December, and it recovers around January 15th. My brains kicked in around the 3rd, and I started getting the business recovered early this year.
I was slowly becoming afraid of everything. Afraid of anxiety even. General Anxiety Disorder is “mild” – that’s the one that starts preventing you from getting things done, or leaves you ramped up. Anxiety Attacks / Panic Attacks are the ones where you heart starts thudding in your chest, your brain shuts down, and you “panic”. Social Anxiety Disorder is were you start having problems, dread, etc. dealing with other people – including those you know very well.
By the end, I was having all of those. I would lay in bed at night, and every other night or so my heart would be trying to pound out of my chest. I knew I wasn’t having a heart attack: I know the symptoms of what I was dealing with (which really, kind of makes me an asshole: I know something’s wrong, and I know WHAT is wrong. I just was afraid to do anything about it, or talk to anyone about it.) Heck, I’d try and avoid it enough to call it other things. I’d even attribute some of it to bad ADHD days. But, I knew better, and I knew I was lying to myself.
One day, a friend commented that he had recently started developing some social anxiety. I blurted out, without thinking “You’re not the only one!” That, of course, was basically the end of the conversation.
Now, I’m not JUST dealing with anxiety; there’s a laundry list of old stuff I’ve been dealing with. How do you fix anxiety? Well, that’s not simple: for some people, it’s going back and addressing that things that brought you to this point. Abuse, trauma, whatever. Which was my way of dealing with it: I dealt with the stuff that I wrote here as my “therapy”, and I privately dealt with the other stuff, thanks to people in my life.
And, just like the rest of the stuff I dealt with, I already knew some of the tools and concepts for dealing with it, and have talked other people through it. So, I turned those tools on myself, and talked with other people about it. And, yet again, I had to open up to some people in my life, and say “Hey, this is what’s fucked up about me”. I’m kinda getting use to that, which is by no means a bad thing. Though, I’m real selective about who I open up to. Even this post has some “I’m not including that tidbit” moments in it.
Did it work? Well… yeah, actually. Better than I expected. I didn’t realize how well it worked, until I started crying while driving down the road a couple days ago – but, that’s a story for a different post.