How to determine WHAT anxiety disorder you have.

Many of us generalize anxiety in prose, I do it I’m sure many of you have in your life as well. Simply put we use the term “anxiety” as a catch all for any anxious reaction. It’s an umbrella term that is simple to understand, you tell anyone “I have anxiety” and they have a good general sense of what is happening with you. What happens next though? When you continue down the rabbit hole, what do you find? Indeed, there are several types of anxiety disorders. I found a good article here that discusses the issue.

From the article: All anxiety disorders cause chronic and persistent forms of distress and discomfort, which can include emotional and physical symptoms, but they differ from one another based on the specific trigger of the anxiety, Jenny C. Yip, Psy.D., clinical psychologist and owner of the Renewed Freedom Center in Los Angeles, tells SELF.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and phobia disorders are among the most common types of anxiety disorders. Other common anxiety disorders include post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.”

stressed-out-woman
Some days are worse then others.

The article goes on to list out and elaborate on several types of anxiety disorders, it’s a good article definitely take some time with it. Look I don’t need to elaborate here, as many of us are on an anxiety journey we deal with the symptoms and consequences daily. Identifying triggers or specific conditions around your particular situation is critical to creating a management plan on how to cope and eventually thrive.

This article does a good job of mapping things out for you and who knows maybe there is a nugget of data in here that helps you progress on your journey. I hope this helps you, if nothing else it can help with confirmation and affirmation and that’s a positive.

You are doing great, one day at a time.

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Anxiety: knowing the problem hastens the solution

That was the catch phrase from the original Zoloft commercial I remember seeing this commercial on TV years ago and thinking to myself at the time “ya that sounds like me” I have always been of the opinion that taking a prescription drug is like surgery or war, it should done as a last resort. I never have, and still don’t take a prescription for my anxiety and border line depression. I have discussed this with my Dr over the years she has offered to write me a prescription many times.

For me I always wanted to fight against my issues myself and to a degree I have succeeded. However from time to time I wonder “would it be easier if I just took a pill?” I imagine it would but I am thankful I do not have symptoms severe enough to seriously consider it at this time. I see more modern commercials, with sun light shining on happy smiling people and a part of me thinks that the marketing of these drugs has become sinister.

You see, if you are someone who suffers from anxiety or depression, regardless of degree, you at some point have experienced the very real desperation of “being in the moment”. These are the episodes where things are very brutal, you think the worse, feel the worse and your mind allows for all sorts of horrific outcomes. I sometimes feel when I see these new commercials that they play on these, for some, very morbid notions and offer an unrealistic outcome.

The Sun will come out again.

The sun breaks, you’re smiling with beautiful people… I mean maybe I am being overly cynical here but when I rewatch the original Zoloft commercial it’s a cartoon blob being followed around by a cloud. It wasn’t glamorous it was simple, you take Zoloft and the rain cloud goes away. I know that’s essentially the same thing that the modern commercials are doing but when you have an animation like this, it abstracts the outcomes enough to temper your expectations.

I know, spoken like a true believer… Anyway if you are on medication this wasn’t meant to offend or be judgmental. I’m lucky I’m coping on my own, but if you are not on medication and you think you might need to be that’s okay. You should check with your Dr ASAP and talk to them about your condition. Taking medication to address anxiety and depression is nothing to be ashamed about you should be commended for taking action to correct a situation.

As the original Zoloft ad said “When you know more about what’s wrong, you can help make it right”. Maybe medication is for you, but don’t let the commercials inform you exclusively, talk to your dr !

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Leif Erikson

The 5-hour rule – Improving as a Man

Once again I am going to give some advice on how to improve as a man. This is based on my life experience, what I have read along the way etc. The good news is, improving benefits all aspects of your life. As a Son, a brother, a husband, a dad or just a single male getting through life. I am positive that these are not exclusive to males, I simply can’t comment on a woman’s perspective even though I have a mother, daughter and wife I am not female.

What is the 5-hour rule? You can google it if you want but the core concept is you take 5 hours a week, 1 hour a day Monday – Friday and focus on something you want to get better at. What does “focus” mean? It means reading about the subject, practicing the subject, researching more about the subject. The subject can be anything, archery, car repair, public speaking.

What this does is allows you to make progress on things you deem important. This is time you get to spend on something you want, something you hold important. This is meant to be an individual enterprise it’s not supposed to be shared. You can tell people about it if you want but the most important thing here is, you identified something you want to get better at and are devoting time to improving.

Be like water….

The people in your life will see this, it’s a positive as it illustrates your discipline and your commitment to something you think is important. This will benefit you in more ways than just becoming better at the task, your confidence will rise you will notice other people view you differently. The 5-hour rule is something fairly straight forward to implement. I used something similar when I first got into finance. Not college I mean an actual job where job skills were important but nuances like dealing with coworkers and bosses expectations aren’t covered in the college lectures.

I spent time every night before bed making sure I understood what was important for me to do the next day. Sure some of that was anxiety driven but for the most part it was in an effort to be more prepared and better able to excel. It worked for me and over the years I have implemented my variation of the 5-hour rule to great effect. Maybe it can work for you too.

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Basics of Anxiety – General Anxiety Disorder

Let me start this post off with a link to a great resource the Anxiety and Depression Association of America . This site has excellent information for anyone who thinks they have an anxiety disorder or knows they do and you just need more information. This website has a lot of information and resources and can assist with a multitude of issues. I strongly recommend taking a look at the site and the reference material it offers.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is essentially a catch all for nonspecific anxiety triggers most of us call them phobias. “GAD is diagnosed when a person finds it difficult to control worry on more days than not for at least six months and has three or more symptoms” . When I read this I realized that at several points in my life this applied to me. GAD isn’t a constant condition it can come and go but I’ve found in my travels that more often than not it is always present just to varying degrees.

From the Website: “GAD affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population, in any given year. Women are twice as likely to be affected. The disorder comes on gradually and can begin across the life cycle, though the risk is highest between childhood and middle age. Although the exact cause of GAD is unknown, there is evidence that biological factors, family background, and life experiences, particularly stressful ones, play a role.”

Surviving 2020 & covid
Anxiety Sucks, Millions suffer from it.

I thought this excerpt from the site was particularly potent. 6.8 million adults… Ya we aren’t alone. I found it very interesting that they claim women are twice as likely to be affected. I can logically extrapolate some instances why, pregnancy, physical appearance and family pressures come to mind. The worse part though is the multitude of factors and the lack of specificity as to why this occurs.

Essentially anything can trigger this, maybe you went to a concert Saturday and your ears were ringing when you got up the next day “am I going to go deaf?” you ask yourself. A common seemingly sterile situation right? So the next time you don’t hear something correctly are you now delving back into anxiety? Technically yes, again its degree’s but you are anxious about a future outcome based on an example of the past. You can’t absolutely say that your past experience will be identical to your future outcome but it’s your best gauge.

Then you begin to think “god if I just didn’t go to that concert I wouldn’t have this issue” and on and on it goes. That’s just one very simple example but it’s a prelude to Generalized Anxiety Disorder. There is no definitive moment as to when it begins for anyone, but when you are “in the moments” of anxiety you know it. The sensations are unique to everyone but if you’ve had panic attacks you know the gambit it can run. You can be highly functional and then for days struggle to get out of bed because you can’t overcome the anxiety.

Then, one day you feel good. Not perfect, not “wow that was silly I am free and clear” but the fog clears for you and you go on without worrying about it at all. This is GAD and it can flip day to day, week to week for your entire life. Knowledge is power and remember you aren’t alone. There are millions of people all over the world that have anxiety and deal with it sometimes daily, sometimes randomly sometimes just situationally with specific phobias. Hang in there, one day at a time.

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Perfection is the bane of very good.

I am 51 years old, I have worked in a professional office setting in various finance roles since the mid 90’s. I’ve seen a lot of theories on professional development, personal growth and overall goal setting to achieve outcomes. The first piece of wisdom I can impart to you is a goal set by other people that you work on are your tasks.

What does that mean? It means that often people in your life have things they want to accomplish but need your help. Work, personal it doesn’t matter really, you participate in the process, let’s say someone is remolding a kitchen. You come over on a Saturday and help haul some trash away. You completed a task to help them achieve their goal.

The trick is to not fall into the trap of being consumed by other people’s goals. This happens a lot in relationships, someone has a vision for their life and you accommodate them as best you can because you love them. If you are lucky, you share the same goal, if not you will be in a “giving” situation in that relationship and that can be draining.

The price of Wisdom is time.

The second piece of wisdom (hang in there, there are only 3  ) is goals are great for your personal growth and improvement but perfection is the bane of very good or great. What does that mean exactly? Setting a goal for yourself “I will finish my Masters by 28” is great but you have to accommodate life. Rigid goals that have absolutes built in often fail and it’s often the case that we blame ourselves for this and become very hard on ourselves. Anything can happen, what if at 27 someone you love gets sick and you have to take a year off school? Was your goal a failure?

The third piece of wisdom is taking the time to figure out and decide what it is you really want. This is the holy grail of self-awareness isn’t it? Maybe you are a faith based person, maybe you believe in animal rights etc… The goal here is to figure out what makes you happy, and what do you really want to do. This can take decades or it can take minutes but healthy self-reflection is a necessary process to determine where you stand in the desired outcome. We take time to get our coffee’s, go to the gym, update our I-phone operating systems why aren’t we taking MORE time to self-evaluate? Get a journal, from time to time write down the things you are doing and write down how you felt about it. From time to time go back through it, were there multiple entries with you at a beach being happy?

The point here is it’s not about perfection, you’ll never make it but you can achieve very good and that is progression. Progression = getting better and that is figurative and literal. When you achieve goals, even partially you are putting the building blocks together of success and mental contentment. You can do it, and even if you stumble or flat out fail, it’s okay you pick yourself up and keep going.

Remember, it’s not about being perfect, it’s about getting better.  

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Enough

Anxiety is natural, until it becomes unnatural

I know the title isn’t great but I saw this article and I thought it was presented well albeit pretty simplistic. Meaning that those of us dealing with Anxiety issues know when it becomes an unnatural state. Its instinctual and while we all have various degrees of states of mind when you are consumed by a feeling that is an unnatural state. You may not have the tools to identify the degree’s, perhaps you are like this all the time.

The quote below from the article here is stated obviously but sometimes we need simple reminders.

Feeling apprehensive about something stressful—even a good thing, like a promotion or wedding—is a sign that your inherent survival mechanism is working as expected. “Some anxiety is helpful and necessary to motivate us to act; for example, if you need to start an assignment that is due tomorrow or if you are in the woods and see a bear,” Holly Valerio, M.D., clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety in the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, tells SELF.

Surviving 2020 & covid
One Day at a time.

A degree of anxiety IS NORMAL. You shouldn’t rely on others to justify how you feel but I’m not going to lie it is nice to see others say it from time to time. The article is a good read for people who are on the cusp, meaning those of us out there who aren’t sure if their anxiety levels are normal or not. Again to be clear, what’s normal for me might not be normal for you. So you are traveling to a new city and you need to drive to a location? Yes you should be anxious that would be a normal response.

When you get home and you have to drive somewhere on roads you have traveled hundreds of times should you be anxious? Maybe, but it’s a matter of degree, do you feel the same way you did when you traveled to the new city? If you do you should really take a few minutes and ask yourself why.

Anxiety is natural, your body is functioning correctly when you are in an unfamiliar situation and you feel anxious about what might happen. When these kinds of feelings begin to evade your everyday functions you need to be honest with yourself and identify why this might be happening. There often isn’t one singular event that we can track back to that was the trigger for anxiety. Most of us have anxiety from a cumulative effect of multiple events over time.

Your trigger isn’t my trigger, and your trigger doesn’t have a time stamp. What you did today might trigger you tomorrow and so on. Having a disorder does require a medical diagnosis. A blogger can’t tell you if you do or do not have one, I can only share with you my journey and what I am finding along the way. Your journey is unique to you but if you find more and more that anxiety is creeping into your life see a professional and get ahead of the problem.

Remember Anxiety affects millions of people, you are not alone.

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Dressing to feel good !

More advice from a 50-year-old (me) bye bye 2020.

This is more of a pep talk post. 30 years ago, I was unemployed, out of work, living on a friend’s couch, smoking drinking, partying with absolutely no direction at all. My family was broken, my siblings spread out all over the country, my father deceased, my mother a raging alcoholic. I had no hope, I had no support, I was hanging on by a thread.

Things got progressively worse for me, the 1980’s turned to the 1990’s and it looked like I was going to be homeless and broke. I caught a break, I hooked up with a girl friend who had her shit together. She got me a job at the company she was working at. The boss there told me, and I will never forget this. “You have an opportunity here to change your life, if you mess it up, it’s all your fault”. It wasn’t prophetic, it wasn’t an epic line from Shakespeare etc. It was though a chance, and I took it.

2020 the world was on fire, 2021 is near will the flames subside?

I stayed with the GF for a year, I banked as much money as I could. We didn’t last, she changed jobs and changed boyfriends. I held the job though, I had enough resources to afford a very cheap apt, food, I was living. I was able to reduce my drug intake and booze. I went to night school (the company helped me pay for it). I took a second job, selling men’s dress shoes. I hustled my ass off and did everything I could to generate income and better my position.

By the time I got out of that company I had an associate degree, I cleaned up A LOT, and I was dating my future wife. Fast forward to now, 30 years removed I have two college degrees, a very nice house, financial independence, a great family and a decent career. I have issues still, I struggle with anxiety, I have moments where I am not a fun person to be with.

I never thought I would arrive at this place in my life, I am happy, most of the time.

Where are you now? What do you see 5 years from now in your life? Is it bad? Is it really bad? It’s likely much worse than my situation. I caught a break, but I didn’t know it was coming. I got one shot and I made it work. Life isn’t fair, most of the time it sucks but along the way you’ll likely meet people that can help you, you just have to have your eyes open enough to see that the help is there to take. It’s okay to take help, it’s okay to need assistance.

You must hang in there, imagine for a moment 30 years from now. What will you be? Where will you be? If I can make it, you can make it. 2021 is upon us and it might be your worse year or it might be your best. Eyes wide open in 2021.

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