Generalized Anxiety Disorder, also known as GAD is one of the most common anxiety disorders, affecting 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population (mentalhealthmatters.com). Many people struggling with GAD live with symptoms such as persistent worrying over small or large things, the inability to relax, distress about making decisions, or the inability to concentrate, among many other things (mayoclinic.org). It is important to know that if you live with this diagnosis, or feel that you may be suffering from symptoms like these, you are not alone. Read on to hear Kyle’s personal story about living with GAD. Kyle’s story is an example of the reality of GAD’s daily struggles, but also an example of the courage and the strength of those who battle daily and continue to live happy lives.
WHAT IT’S LIKE WITH GAD
By Kyle Retzer
GAD: Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It is defined by the heightened stress due to even the most menial of tasks, but still is different for everybody. With it being midterm time for everyone, and being on quarter system, the fast pace of classes is enough to cause us all a good amount of anxiety. So let’s take a look at what it’s like trying to handle anxiety.
For me, waking up late is enough to start my day off on the wrong foot. Waking up only to see I am going to be late for class is enough to give me an uncomfortable feeling in my chest and an increase in heart rate. This one always gets to me because it feels like something that can so easily be avoided, yet I am stuck having to freak out about being late to class. I’m probably going to have to sit on the floor now to not disrupt the class, and people are probably going to give me some awkward stares as I open the door and walk in. What if the professor notices and for some arbitrary, but still seemingly really important reason, holds that against me.
Alright, class is over and I’m back home. I then get a text asking about the homework for my next class, and then I realize it: I haven’t done the homework yet. My heart begins to race and I’m feeling uncomfortable again. There is only an hour before I have to leave to go to class and I was going to eat. How am I going to make food and have enough time for the homework? I begin to shake my foot as I feel the anxiety building. I make the fastest thing I can think of to eat and a random piece of fruit and then start working, trying to finish it so I have something to turn in. I end up leaving to class, late again, because I was trying to finish the homework, which gives me a little bit more to worry about.
Class starts and ends and I finally get home, all of my classes are over. I take a break and hang out, trying to have some of that anxiety disappear. We decide to order some delivery food. My friends want me to call. Again, my heart begins to race and my breaths get a little bit shallower, as I get more and more nervous. A simple phone call to order some food should be easy, right? So why am I freaking so much over it? I finally calm myself down enough to call and order, but it’s not over because I still will have to face the delivery person in a little bit.
It’s late, and I’m trying to study for midterms. I have been trying for a few hours now, but I don’t feel like I’ve gotten far. It really isn’t that late, but really does feel like it. I watch the clock tick, and with each passing beat my heart rate rises, breathing gets quicker,and panic is setting in. Sometimes the panic is too much for me to control, to hold back, and so I begin to hyperventilate. No matter how long these anxiety attacks last, they wear me out greatly, and studying for midterms is almost harder now.
But it’s ok, because I survived another day and so did you. We all have our own lives, our own experiences, our own anxieties. But at the end of the day, when you are sitting in front of your laptop doing your homework, remember that you are not alone in how you are feeling, there are others who understand, and don’t forget to take advantage of those friends and resources that can help.