health

'What if I walk on quicksand and die?' 35 thoughts of a Generalised Anxiety Disorder sufferer.

I’ve had anxiety for as long as I can remember. As I child, I remember when I first heard about global warming and feeling physically sick.

I remember losing netball games and spending days wondering what everyone would think of me, writing pages of repetitive pages of notes ‘I will not miss a goal this week’, as a form of self-punishment.

I used to vomit on the morning of sports days, give myself blood-noses to get out of certain classroom activities.

I’m now 23, and my anxiety is crippling. I can still go to work, and I can still study, I still maintain relationships with friends and sometimes I can participate in social activities, but every single day is a constant war with my own mind.

Here’s what it looks like:

Damnit, I woke up.

I’m so tired, will I be this tired at work all day? What if I fall asleep at my desk?

I closed the front door too loudly; will my house mates think I’m angry at them?

Mum didn’t call me yesterday; does she still love me? Did I do something wrong that I can’t remember?

Was that green light really green or did I just run a red light?

I just drove over a bump, was it actually a person and I just killed them? Am I a murderer?

Slow down for the pedestrian crossing, there’s no one there but what if there is and you kill someone?

You have a cough, but what if your boss thinks your faking it to get out of work or get sympathy?

Your boyfriend broke up with you, you are a terrible person, and no one will ever love you again.

The boss has called a team meeting, it’s to address something you’ve done wrong.

The boss has asked to speak to you about something. You’re fired.

You spent too long in the bathroom, the boss knows how lazy you are now.

generalised anxiety disorder
"Every single day is a constant war with my own mind." Image: Supplied.
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It’s Thursday and I haven’t eaten a vegetable since Sunday? You’re going to die of some cancer that could have been prevented by just eating a dang vegetable.

What if you never get a boyfriend again and you die alone?

What if you have a panic attack in a public place and everyone sees how crazy you are?

I have a headache, what if it’s a tumour and I’m dying?

You only got a B on your Uni essay, everyone thinks you’re a failure that will never amount to anything.

Should I quit my job? I’m no good at it and I’d be doing the boss a favour, really.

What if I run out of money?

The universe is constantly expanding, what if it expands too far and bounces back like an elastic band and we all die?

What if the world runs out of water?

You’re a bad person because you didn’t stop to give the homeless man on Bourke Street a few dollars.

Take a wide berth around the dog tied to the pole out the front of the shop. It will bite you and you will get rabies and die.

Bouncing legs, tapping fingers, bobbing foot.

Panic attack. Breathe. How do you breathe? I forgot how to breathe. Google how to breathe.

You haven’t spoken to Grandma for three days, what if she thinks you hate her?

Your ex’s friends don’t want to be friends with you anymore. You are crazy and it’s all your fault.

What if I’m pregnant?

What if the chicken I’m using for dinner has salmonella and I die?

What if I get toxic shock syndrome?

The plane is going to crash and I’m going to die.

What if I accidentally walk on quicksand one day and die?

What if the text I sent actually had different words to what I saw and now they think I hate them.

Was that dream I had last night real or did it actually happen in real life?

What if I don’t get enough sleep tonight?

It’s 9.30pm so if I go to sleep now I can just enough sleep to not be too tired tomorrow.

Dr Lowinger chats to Mia Freedman about anxiety: How it presents itself, what causes it and what can be done to treat it. Post continues after audio.

This is the day in the life of anxiety. Of course, every one of those thoughts is interspersed with about a million others. Every single day. It’s exhausting.

I take medication for my anxiety, but they can sometimes have super annoying side effects. I only recently started taking mine again after a break up as I’d gone off it in order to stop the emotional numbness it made me feel when I first started seeing them.

When someone tells you they have anxiety, it’s not just a couple of little worries. It’s debilitating. Not just mentally and emotionally, but physically too.

Sometimes its manageable, some days I just worry about ‘normal’ things, other days I feel a deep, visceral fear that resides in every atom of my being and I physically vomit.

When someone tells you they have anxiety, don’t dismiss them. The best thing you can do is listen to their fears, you don’t need to be some kind of therapist, just be there, listen, and face them with facts.

Validate their feelings and encourage their successes. But remember to set your own boundaries too, only take on what you can manage, help as best as you feel that you are able.

Do you have anxiety? How do you cope? Tell us in the comments section below.

You can find further information on anxiety and supporting those with anxiety at Beyond Blue

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