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My Experience with General Anxiety and High Functioning Anxiety

I have been trying to write about this for a good while now.  I would start it and then leave it.  Scrap it and start again.  Today may be the same… it may be the right time to put it all down in words. Let’s see how far I get.

High functioning anxiety…. Not a recognised disorder or a diagnosis although as I see it, it is something people diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder (G.A.D.) tend to experience alongside the symptoms and struggles that go with G.A.D..

Having been diagnosed with G.A.D. back in 2020 was not something I was prepared for although I knew something was going on.  I had, had a major panic attack and everything it seemed came tumbling down around me.  I stopped functioning completely.  It was a very scary time for me.

When it comes to high-functioning anxiety, GAD is prevalent but some of the symptoms are more apparent than others, like continually feeling on edge, muscle tension, headache from clenching of the jaw, hunched shoulders, over sensitivity, hyper vigilance, and irritability.

For me, all the above were apparent. 

Then the self-inflicted perfectionism… I wanted to do everything right and had little patience for people who did not prioritise that. 

If I got a new design job at the office, I tackled it right away, rushed to get it done and done perfectly… demanded feedback immediately etc… It was totally out of control.  My patience was non-existent.  I was never late.  I prided myself on being super efficient.  I took on way more that I could cope with.  I was super busy all of the time.  I never had any ‘down time’.  Overachieving at its best!

When my husband, totally flummoxed by my breakdown, sat, and just looked at me in a way I had never seen and said “HOW? How did this happen?  You are the ONE person who is SO together!!!”  “How?”  I realised how the hell it all happened. 

I realised that I felt I was not coping but couldn’t let go… I could NOT let anyone know I was ‘faltering’ in any way when truly, I was.  I had so much on the go.  After all I was THE one person WHO could do everything and do it well… no?

I did everything at home, I worked full time in a demanding job with deadlines and stresses, I had a kid with struggles, which as a mom (if you are a mom reading this you will understand) is all energy sapping and I just felt I needed to go go go, full steam ahead all the time.

I had very little support from my husband because, through no real fault of his own… he had no idea I was juggling so much and trying to do it perfectly.  I never told him, I just got on with shit.  All he saw was this woman who managed to do this and do it well and he was so proud of her.

Deep down, I was wound up ball of nerves.

So… High Functioning Anxiety… I came across this somewhere was like “OMG!!!!  Omgomgomgomg THAT is me!!!!”  And in true GAD, I googled EVERYTHING and read everything I could find on it.

THEN I found an article that mentioned thyroid issues.  Now I am Hypothyroid.  I was diagnosed with that in 2016, I think.  That is whole different issue.  But, looking back, I reckon both have been dictating my life since I was a kid and have in shape or form, influenced who I am today.  It is well documented that Thyroid issues and anxiety tend to go hand in hand.  That for me is so real, because let me tell you, Hypothyroidism is not an easy disease to deal with.

Knowing this and consciously trying to take a step back was the beginning for me.

Firstly, I took a step back at work.  I am not paid as a team leader I am on the same job grade as my colleagues; however, I took it on myself to lead the team, make the work plan, make sure everything was done OTIF etc.  Checking work before it went out etc... making sure we functioned like a well oiled machine... I took it all on me and it was totally not expected of me.

Taking that step back at work, was the first step in the right direction.  It also meant a stronger working relationship with everyone.

I cancelled my gym membership.  I stopped going to yoga classes.  I stopped taking my dog to agility classes, cancelled all the things I was doing in my spare time, and I really RESET. 

I totally reassessed ‘spare time’.

I now walk or run the dog every day.  Our runs/walks are my ME TIME…. Just Bear and I, we take in nature and enjoy every single minute.  We go slow if I feel like it… we run if I have the energy… no PLANNED routine…. I run up hills and treat or trail runs as the gym… an outdoor one.  We have the best fun!

Some days I miss going to yoga sessions, but I now practice yoga every day, sometimes during my lunch hour… sometimes at my desk… sometimes in the evening before bed… I now do more yoga than ever.  

I don’t just accept deadlines set for me by other people without agreeing to them first. 

I don’t make promises I know will stress me out in the process of keeping them. 

I don’t make social plans way in advance if I feel slightly uncomfortable about them. 

I don’t make plans with people because I feel I need to, to be socially accepted.

I don’t feel any pressure anymore to fit into someone else’s idea of who I am.

This is me now and I do life… MY WAY!

Yes, some days I feel pressure, but I have learnt to pause… think about it, to breathe… to say no… I have learnt to set boundaries.

I do get stressed.  I still struggle with anxiety daily, but I am learning to recognise the triggers and to deal with them, even in the tiniest way and that is helping me.

Anxiety is not a bad thing.  It keeps us safe.  Even though it may seem useless at times, there is a purpose for anxiety. These feelings and symptoms are a part of our innate way of dealing with stress. Known as the fight-or-flight response, anxiety is meant to protect us from danger and allow us to react faster to emergencies.

Although excessive worrying and high anxiety can cause an imbalance in your body, there are many options you have that can re-establish harmony of mind, body, and spirit.

What Lifestyle Changes did I make?

Spoke with my GP first and foremost. 

Then I talked to a professional therapist. 

Exercise daily. 

Eat a healthy, balanced diet. 

Drink caffeine in moderation.

Drink no alcohol. 

Conscious of my worries. 

Learnt to relax. 

Meditate daily. 

Building a strong social network. 

 

I am sharing this with you, for no reason other than to share my experience.  

Pausing... breathing and mindfulness is what got me here today...  That, and the need to be here for my kid.

Breathe is my therapy now.  I love every minute of doing it.  I love every comment, like, follow and share.  

Baby steps... and breath work my friends...

love you

Corrina

x

 

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Important Disclaimer:  Everything you read is based on my opinion and my opinion only.  I have NO medical experience and share with you what works/doesn’t work for ME and for ME alone.  

This blog is purely for ‘sharing’ purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for consulting a physician or trained professional regarding any of its contents or advice (medical, health, diet, yoga, fitness related etc).

I am not responsible for any loss, injury or damage allegedly arising from any information I share on this blog!

 

1 comment

  • I’ve just read this through. My diagnosis is Severe anxiety disorder. I’m not really sure the label matters anymore 🤷🏻‍♀️ I can hugely relate to what you have said about high functioning anxiety and at parts could be reading about myself. I have always been a high achiever, always gone above and beyond .. I look successful. But mainly I have done so well because I don’t allow myself to stop, I can’t. I sit still and my inner critic tells me I’m lazy and I’m going to fail. So I go and go and go and then… I break.

    So like you I try my hardest to have boundaries, do the things that keep me well and breathe but I have a long way to go.

    I hate to hear you suffer in a similar way yet I am truly comforted by the thought that I’m not alone, not crazy (well maybe a little)

    Thank you for sharing

    Nancy

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