What was it like before I knew I had a disorder?
For majority of my life I did not know I had GAD. I went about my life, made my decisions, and lived day to day believing everything I felt was how the average person felt/feels.
After a major life change, I had moved back to Toronto. For the first while things were fine, I was having lots of fun. I had a new look – I was losing a lot of weight I had gained – I was going out with my friends a lot more than I used to and spending time revisiting my favorite things – listening to music, writing, drawing. I was also very – VERY – excited to start dating. I felt like a bratty girl who had been locked up for a long time that was finally unleashed on the world. Look out everybody – run for cover – she’s baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaccccccccccccccccccccccccccckkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk!!!
All the excitement was new and wonderful, but there was something underlying it. I was having really REALLY bizarre thoughts about my past life. For some reason, I had it in my head that I was pregnant.
S0 let me explain. Logically there was no way I was pregnant. I had a yearly exam shortly before the last relationship ending. A few months had gone by and I had regular periods. I hadn’t had sex for a long time, it just was not possible. But no matter what I told myself I had this all gripping fear that I was pregnant.
I was coming up with solutions to this problem I believed I had. I was terrified of any connection to the past, I was terrified of any change to the new life I was currently enjoying, I was terrified that I couldn’t stop obsessing and was wondering if I was actually just losing it, if I hadn’t recovered from my last relationship ending. I did not know what was happening and I was absolutely scared.
I had bought home pregnancy tests, all were negative. I had a test done at the local Clinic, negative. With every test I thought this feeling of dread would lift but nothing worked. Nothing was reassuring me, I still felt like something was happening that I had no control over.
I called the clinic again, and explained that I was just not able to let it go. I needed a blood test to confirm I was not pregnant. I explained the past relationship ending. I was very lucky that the nurse I spoke to was compassionate and told me yes, they would make an exception and give me a blood test if it meant I was reassured. I came in, had the test done, and waited for the results to show up. I was CERTAIN it would come back positive. I was CERTAIN I would have to make a very difficult and horrible decision. Even if it came back negative I was CERTAIN the lab had mixed up my sample with someone elses.
All of these thoughts were actual thoughts that were constantly cycling through my head. It went something like this
You’re pregnant – NO I’m not, I can’t be I had my period – It doesn’t matter your pregnant Everything is going to change, you will have to call him and talk to him and explain to him because there’s nobody else you would be pregnant from – I’m not pregnant it’s been months there’s no chance I can be, I’ve had all the tests done – what if the tests were wrong? You’re pregnant, what are you going to do? you have to deal with it don’t tell anyone they wont believe you you’re pregnant
I was arguing with myself. My logical side was saying, it just can’t be and here are the reasons why – but something was fighting this reasoning and scaring me big time. This was happening all day, from the moment I woke up until I tried to go back to sleep at night. This is how scared I was all the time. I would function, I had a job and I would go to work, I would have regular conversations with people – I would laugh make jokes – and the entire time I believed that I was pregnant and I was completely fucked and would have to make some really difficult decisions very soon – I was struggling with this and I just did not talk about it.
I called the clinic again and they told me that my blood test was negative. I felt slightly relived and I tried to ignore the what if thoughts that were now bubbling up – what if they mixed up the tests – what if they are lying and did not process the test – what if they are just humoring me – this was cut off when I realized the nurse was still talking on the phone. She said
“I understand you are dealing with something difficult, maybe you can use one of our other resources here. We offer counseling and I think it could benefit you.”
I was polite and said thank you but dismissed the idea right away. I had been to counseling before, it had not helped at all. I didn’t see the point in trying to see a counselor now that I knew for the most part that the crisis had been averted.
It took two more obsessive attacks like this happening over the next couple of months for me to realize that I needed help. I had anxiety my entire life, but for whatever reason now – at this new stage and new beginning – it was not going to go ignored. I made my first counseling appointment because I was willing to try anything at this point.
It was grueling. I cried in almost every appointment. I talked about parts of my life I never wanted to, and usually needed the rest of the day to recover from the emotional exhaustion of an appointment. The counselor I started with was amazing and saw me through much of the process. She saw something was up and called in a psychiatrist who diagnosed me based on two months of meetings. I started researching GAD and found that my symptoms matched up EXACTLY with what was described. I was, in a way, relieved, because at least this meant I could do something about it, I knew what to look for and I knew what I was dealing with. I wasn’t actually losing my mind, I was suffering from a disorder that had become very severe in the face of all these changes in my life.
A major change I made, and I think this is because of the counselor that was helping me worked so well, was that I was completely open. I discussed the extent to which I worried about things, I exposed the way I was thinking about things and my thought process, I laid it all out on the table. This was scary because I was fully exposing my inner most ideas/perceptions/thoughts – it made me VERY VULNERABLE. It also made the result I needed, I received a proper diagnosis because I was honest. It was very difficult and it only worked because I was in trustworthy hands.
The best part was realizing I DID NOT have to feel this way. It has taken/is taking a lot of reconstruction on a daily basis to let this idea sink in, but I am working on it.
When I reflect back on how things were before I was diagnosed and started reading about my disorder, I remember how purely panicked I would become. I remember how scared I was. I remember how embarrassed I was that I was so emotional on an ongoing basis and seemed to have no control over it. One comfort that exists now is that I know what is happening. I can take ownership of it and I have some power over it.
I was very lucky in my situation that I could find someone who helped me right off the bat. If you are also looking, One clinic I recommend if you are living in Toronto in the Yonge and Eglinton Area is the Anne Johnston Health Station. My experience has only been with sex positive counselors who are there to really help from an unbiased place. If that’s not where you live, they can probably recommend someone if you give them a call. They can also provide you with other forms of therapy – group therapy is an example – if you don’t want a one on one.
Day 3 of 21