I may have a lot of problems, but I'm working on them. Every day.
As I dive into this mini series of love and mental health (specifically my own mental illnesses) there are two important things that you should know.
1. I grew up believing that I wasn't worthy of love.
This manifested itself in a number of ways and I was convinced that I would forever be alone. It was easier, coming to terms with that, rather than thinking you were unlovable.
2. My husband is a saint.
I am convinced of this because, yes, though he is not perfect, this man loves me. Flaws and all.
In this I hope to explore (or rather re-explore) dating with a mental illness and perhaps discover something new or helpful along the way.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by six months or more of chronic, exaggerated worry and tension that is unfounded or much more severe than the normal anxiety most people experience. People with this disorder usually expect the worst. They worry excessively about money, health, family or work, even when there are no signs of trouble. They are unable to relax and often suffer from insomnia. Many people with GAD also have physical symptoms, such as fatigue, trembling, muscle tension, headaches, irritability or hot flashes.
-Mental Health America
I got diagnosed with GAD a couple of years ago when I re started therapy, though I'd been suffering (as opposed to the word I use now: recovering) from anxiety for most of my life. It got worse as I got older and developed my panic disorder.
We could spend months talking about the reasons and causes, but that's what therapy is for. Instead, let's talk about how it effected -- and almost ended -- my growing relationship with my now husband.
This is raw and real and I'm not holding anything back. This is me and my GAD.
I overanalyze everything
Which was not always bad. In fact, our first kiss had so much build up because I sat, straddling him, and thought about all of the possible outcomes for about half an hour before actually doing it. But, when I finally let myself stop thinking, I literally said "Fuck It" went in and sparks flew.
I don't like groups of people
And my husband is a social butterfly. Sometimes, if I'm hosting and in charge of every little detail where very little can go wrong, I flourish. But if I don't know anyone, or I'm surprised/taken off guard by someone I worry, close myself off from the small talk and count down the minutes till they leave.
This has left my husband with no choice but to choose between hanging out with me or friends. An impossible feat to ask especially because early on I would worry that him not picking me meant the worst. That I had done something wrong.
My anxiety speaks for me
When I'm heated, in the high of my anxiety attack, anything I might have bottled up is heightened. Things I don't necessarily feel will come out if I'm feeling vulnerable. It rears its ugly head and when it goes, at my very worst, I fall into a fetal position (almost always in the bathtub) and hyperventilate.
I'm often completely fine after an attack has passed
My anxiety and panic disorder are a needle, sucking the life out of you for whatever period of time it sits in your vein. When the needle is gone you get up and keep going with your day. Maybe it's because I'm so used to living with GAD but as soon as the attack has passed, I'm so happy to have that needle out of my arm that I almost have to bounce back as fast as I do. I hate how I feel during, so I need to get back to everything else as soon as I can.
Yet, here I am. Very much loved. Recovering and growing with a man who knew very little about what to do with my GAD in the beginning. Who now squeezes me tight when he can feel I'm getting anxious, plans out every little detail with me when we go anywhere. Who fights with me and is hurt by me, but who has never given up on me.
Take that, GAD!