Saturday, October 8, 2016

Overcoming Anxiety

Do you live with anxiety? Is anxiety affecting your life? 

18.1% of Americans live with a classified anxiety disorder, but who's to determine all of the people in the United States that have not been identified as having an anxiety disorder.  Statistics reported from have shown that at least 30% of Americans have been misdiagnosed, or have not sought treatment for anxiety.  To break down this statistic, 3 out of every 10 people you see walking down the street could be living with some type of anxiety disorder.

I am a person that has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and have been hospitalized for my condition.  Anxiety exhibits itself in a variety of ways, and each person manages it differently.  Some people do not manage anxiety at all, which will lead to physical and mental health problems, as it caused me both.  I have difficulty traveling, and being in large groups of people.  In the past, I have instantly become engulfed in the 'fight or flight' mode, and with an anxiety disorder 'living' between my ears, I have not been able to effectively 'escape' the physical symptoms associated with it.  

Anxiety can manifest in several ways such as: difficulty breathing, racing thoughts, unrealistic fears, increased heart rate, tightness in the chest, lost of feeling in limbs, and much more.  In the past, I 'managed' my anxiety with alcohol use, and abuse.  I drank alcohol to slow down my thoughts, relax, and to be more open to attending social events, at least I thought those were the behaviors I was exhibiting. The unrealistic perception I had of how alcohol 'helped' me, reared itself in an ugly way 12 years ago, and again, 5 1/2 years ago.  I needed help by others to change my perception that I was an alcoholic, and was using alcohol to treat psychiatric conditions (self medicating).  I needed to experience legal trouble, and trouble in my personal life to hit my own personal rock-bottom in terms of how my physical health was leading me to an early grave.  I have been hospitalized several times with physical effects from alcohol abuse, and most of my alcoholism stemmed from my mental conditions.  

I have been fortunate in life to have loving, caring, and successful parents that did not lead me down the road of alcoholism or an anxiety disorder. Research has shown that these conditions are genetic and are amplified by the environments in which you put yourself in.  There are some beliefs that an anxiety disorder is not a real medical condition, and those beliefs are unfounded, and not true.  I continue to receive services from a psychiatrist, and have been to two treatment centers in my life to face my demons of alcohol addiction, and anxiety disorder.  Both treatment centers implemented a 'whole' body approach to treating addiction, and this kind of treatment is needed for a person to be successful in addiction recovery.  

I want to make it clear that I do not suffer from an anxiety disorder and an addiction disorder, but rather live with these two disorders.  I continue to work at being a successful educator in working with at-risk students, and have been extremely successful in my 15 year career.  I attribute my success to the paths that led me to the person I am today.  My perception has changed recently, and instead of thinking about what I don't have, I embrace what I do have.  I could dwell on the fact that my bank account is not filled with money, or I can step up and embrace the money I do have.  Life isn't about comparing yourself to the person next to you, but instead, making progress in your own life.  How you measure and determine that progress is your own, so own it.

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