You don’t see the strain in my eyes every time I have to talk to a stranger. You don’t see me crawling underneath my covers because I don’t want to step outside my door and interact with anyone. You don’t see me struggling to post on social media because I’m afraid of harming someone or being hated for my opinions. You don’t see me staring at your texts and Facebook messages for hours before giving up on finding the right response.

What It’s Like to Have ‘High-Functioning’ Social Anxiety Disorder – Ahmad Abojaradeh, Contributor, The Mighty

I’m a web developer. I’m a techie. I have fairly severe social anxiety (I’m apparently pretty good at hiding it though). Why the heck does online dating terrify me?

It doesn’t really make sense. At least not on the surface.

I think the reason people think online dating is easier for those with social anxiety, is because you can get to know people without interacting face to face and decide whether or not to meet them.

Honestly, for me it’s a lot harder. I’m not entirely sure why. I’m sure I can’t be alone in this. As uncomfortable as I am meeting new people in person, I feel like it’s easier to read them and get a more genuine conversation out of them. There’s something about hiding behind a computer that terrifies me. Even though my life is spent on the internet, it terrifies me. Yet being out and interacting with people is extremely exhausting. I feel like I can’t win.

Does anyone else find online dating extremely nerve wracking?

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Language is powerful.

How Language Impacts The Stigma Against Mental Health (And What We Must Do To Change It)

I’m surprised by how well this article was written, because I had just read one, right before reading this, on the same site (in fact this one was in the recommended section at the end of the other one) that was absolutely terrible.

This one caught my attention though because it’s something I’ve been struggling with lately. Not so much saying the things mentioned — I think I’ve done pretty good at eliminating them from my vocabulary over the passed couple years — but hearing others say them and having an anxiety attack because I want so badly to correct them, but my social anxiety gets the best of me, every time. It’s so frustrating.

I’ve had people say things to me, in the most casual way, about killing themselves, or wanting to die, because something isn’t going their way. While I understand the frustration behind the comment, it hurts every time I hear it because I have been suicidal. In fact, one particular time these comments were made during a time when I actually was suicidal. It hurt so bad that someone who had never struggled a day in their life with mental illness would say that they wanted to kill themselves over a client who was being super annoying. I was annoyed by the client too, but it had absolutely nothing to do with why I was suicidal at the time, and the person who said it, was most definitely not suicidal. That was not the only time that happened with the same person, but my anxiety and depression diagnosis was still very fresh and I hadn’t come out about it yet.

I’m the past few months alone, I’ve heard the people say, “I have, like, OCD,” referring to a pile of boxes in our office and wanting to organize them. Twice. Because of the way it was said both times, I’m not 100% convinced that this person was just saying it. It is possible they do legitimately have OCD, but I’m not entirely sure. It is probably unlikely though, because the boxes are still there any the only time clearing them up is mentioned by that same person is when someone is asking about the boxes.

Both times, it was not said directly to me, I just happened to be right there, so it didn’t feel appropriate to say anything, but the first time, it was bring said to someone who has previously used the phrase, “you’re OCD,” referring to someone’s pickiness about something specific.

If my social anxiety wasn’t so bad I probably would say something, but I am so terrified of coming off as bitchy that I end up bringing myself almost to tears every time this happens. The logical part of my brain keeps telling me that I’ve only ever been called a bitch once, by someone with their own attitude problems (she called the cops on one of my friends, twice, for the dumbest reasons, the cop actually thought she was a teenager, and was shocked when my friend told him she was 27) and didn’t even have the guts to say it to my face. In fact, I was in a different province at the time, over 3000km away. But no matter how many times I remind myself of that fact, I still think on going to be called a bitch.

Another one that happened recently, was a co-worker said to me, “I’m getting PTSD,” referring to some poorly written code we were trying to debug. I was already stressed out to begin with, and when I saw that (it was in a chat message) I started to panic. I went back and forth in my head about what I could say and whether or not to bother. As soon as I stated to tear up, I knew I had to stop. I minimized the window and tried to calm myself down and distract myself with something else, which was hard because I didn’t have anything unrelated to work on at the time.

So, again, I didn’t say anything. It got me thinking though, maybe I need to be the one to start talking about this stuff in the office. I can’t do it by bringing it up to everyone, and I certainly don’t want to single anyone out (because I know it would make me uncomfortable) for saying these things, but how will anyone learn how harmful these seemingly innocent phrase are of no one tells them.

Because I’m also struggling a lot with my depression right now, it makes it even harder to bring this stuff up, so I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet. For now, I’m sticking to spreading awareness online.


October 2-8, 2016 is Mental Illness Awareness WeekSpreading Awareness, Reducing Stigma.

I came across this article, which I found interesting.

9 women share horror stories about being shamed for their mental health — by doctors

I posted a comment on it, but thought it was also make sense to share here too. I’ve shared some of this before, so it may not be all new.


I’m actually shocked by how many of those doctors are women. Although, part of my experience involved a female doctor, so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.

Growing up, I knew very little about mental illness. I later suspected i had been very depressed in high school, but I still didn’t entirely know what that meant. I also know now that I have been anxious for basically my entire life.

The only reason I never got help as a kid was because my parents were constantly dismissing my feelings as being overly dramatic or sensitive or whatever. I learned to bottle everything up because no one cared enough about my feelings to help me sort through them.

When I was in grade 8 or 9, I was suffering from severe chronic stomach pain. My parents finally took me to the doctor. He ordered a bunch of tests, even throwing out “the ‘C’ word” (cancer) as a potential thing to prepare for, even though he didn’t think that’s what it was. After tons of unpleasant tests and still no explanation, I overheard the doctor tell my dad that it might be all in my head. Nothing else happened after that. Eventually it got better – and by better, I mean more bearable – then happened less and less frequently and a few years later it only happened occasionally.

Several years later, while at college, I started experiencing heart palpitations and frequent headaches. The on campus doctor ordered several tests and after a few months of regular follow-ups, she said that it was probably just stress.

A few years later, I was extremely stressed out with work and basically had a meltdown while listening to a podcast in my car where Wil Wheaton was talking about his experience with anxiety and depression.

It was as if he was talking about me, describing my experiences. Suddenly it all made sense. The immense sadness, the extreme irritably, the built up anger inside. All the things I’d bottled up since I was a child has a reason.

I went to the doctor very soon after and was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and depression. Later also diagnosed with social anxiety by a psychiatrist.

Actually, that psychiatrist told me, flat out, that I was “definitely not depressed,” after talking to me for only 15 minutes. I happened to be feeling not too bad that day. However my family doctor knew better and never made me go back to see him.

Because of all those experiences, I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 26. If anyone had listened or cared when I was younger, I easily could have been diagnosed with anxiety when I was in elementary school, and maybe could have avoided having my depression triggered when I was 13.

It’s almost two years later and I’m still having a hard time. My anxiety has calmed down a bit after having CBT, but my depression recently came back rather severely, with no trigger, so I’m still trying to figure things out and find the right medication. I’ve just started my 5th antidepressant, and it’s only been one year and 10 months since listening to that podcast that lead me to getting help. Thankfully, my current family doctor is excellent and actually makes me feel like he cares. He understands that I don’t want to be heavily medicated but I also want to be happy. He’s encouraged me to try other things as well.

“[I was] on a waiting list to see if I was suitable for CBT.”

I’m sorry, but what the hell kind of health care system makes a person wait to see if they are suitable for CBT? There is nothing about CBT that would make it unsuitable for a person.

I mean, yeah other types of therapy might work better for certain people but for there to be a chance they would say someone is not suitable for CBT is – pardon my french – really fucked up!

CBT is proven to be one of the most effective types of therapy for several different illnesses, including anxiety disorders, OCD, depression, and more. And you don’t need to be at the end of your rope, clinging to life to deserve the right to get CBT. Get it in early so things don’t get worse.

Seriously.

This is insanity.

For me it was fairly easy… After I moved and got a new doctor. My old doctor just wanted to use meds and didn’t really recommend anything else. I know it’s different in Canada, but I didn’t have to wait at all to get the hell I needed, once I saw my new doc for the first time. He referred me right away to a social worker who does CBT. Although things didn’t get immediately better, things have improved. My anxiety is much more manageable now. I’m still dealing with depression and other issues, by the anxiety was the big one at the time, but it’s no longer the worst thing I’m dealing with.

This is really interesting.

HAVING TOO MUCH OF THIS COULD LEAD TO DEPRESSION

Only thing that bugs me is the one comment in the last paragraph:

[Paul Andrews] also warns that we ought to continue trying to determine whether depression has evolutionary benefits — helping with deep analytical thought, for example — before rushing to medicate.

While I agree that living with anxiety and depression has provided me with certain benefits in how I think and process information, I do not enjoy the constat worry and fear and lack of motivation and energy and the suicidal thoughts, as I’m sure most would agree. Living with a mind that thinks a lot about dying and wishes I didn’t exist is not easy or fun.

I would gladly lose the constantly being hyper aware of my surroundings, to the point of feeling as though I had ADD (my doctor has not ruled that diagnosis for me out yet). I would gladly lose the hours spent in deep analytical thought. I would gladly lose the insomnia and worry that keeps me awake at night, of our meant that I could be happy.

Yesterday was an extremely stressful day. So stressful that I actually couldn’t go to work today.

The Stress Came First…

Yesterday, I had a performance review (they’re only just starting to do this, so it was more of a random 9 month review than the usual 30 days or 3 months or whatever). I knew about it since last week, and even though I knew nothing bad was going to happen, I was still extremely anxious about it. This is something I have always struggled with. I always think I’m in trouble and when it’s work related I always think I’m going to get fired.

Obviously, that wasn’t the case. It went really well. As I expected, but I was still terrified and was spending a lot of time in the bathroom beforehand.

However, that was not the worst part of my day and is not the reason I had to stay home today.

…Then The Phobia

I’ve had a weird phobia for as long as I can remember. I have absolutely no idea what caused it. There’s nothing I can remember that may have caused it, except for the fact that my imagination is excellent and it causes me to visualize things a little too well, so even someone mentioning something that seems harmless, it can make me cringe because I get a very vivid image in my head.

I’ve always been kind of hesitant to call it a phobia too because of the fact I didn’t have a good reason for it and it’s not even like a specific thing that I’m afraid of happening, it’s more that like a concept that gives me the heebie jeebies. That’s not even a strong enough phrase to describe it.

Continue reading

I just came across this article and related to it so much, so I wanted to share it.

Aside from the having a baby part, this was basically me. I went my entire life feeling the exact same way as this woman did. Believing that it was just part of my personality or that it was normal or all in my head.

Even though I was incredibly stressed out about the way I felt, I thought it was normal. As an adult, I became convinced that I was simply incapable of coping with the shit life throws at you where everyone else always managed to get through it. I didn’t know that I could get help.

“You’re just shy, you will get over it,” and, “Once you get up there you will be fine!” is what I was told.  Another gem was, “Everyone has some degree of social anxiety ― it’s normal.” Or my all-time favorite, “Nobody likes public speaking. You just do it.”

People told me all the same things. I grew up convinced that I was shy. And I was, to an extent. I’ve realized in the past year that I don’t actually think I’m shy at all. Well, a little, but not nearly as much as I thought.

I silently suffered for years and years and never even realized what I was feeling was more than just being shy. I just thought that was how life was, and what I felt and the reactions I had to situations were normal. People would always tell me to “calm down” and “relax,” “everything will be fine,” and so I just brushed it off as irrational worries.

I am mostly an introvert, in the sense that being around people is extremely exhausting for me and I need my alone time to rebuild my energy. But my actual personality (among many other things) has been held back by my irrational fears, particularly in my social life.

I don’t enjoy interacting with people, unless it’s in a meaningful manor. I prefer deep conversation over small talk. I prefer hanging out, doing something low key, rather than going out to events. Sitting on my friend’s couch talking is far more appealing than going shopping or to a bar or whatever. I can handle going out for dinner but it’s not my favourite thing either.

I tend to not express feelings and opinions mostly out of fear. So many people have made me feel inadequate so many times when I have opened up in the past. In addition to fearing what they will think or say, I also feel extremely uncomfortable having all eyes on me. That’s the main reason why I hate celebrating my birthday. I don’t like the attention.

Paranoid, frustrated, always on edge, and angry had become MY normal.

I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember. It continued to get worse the older I got because I was constantly hurt by others whenever I tried to explain how something made me feel. From the simple “suck it up” or “get over it” to the “don’t be over dramatic” or the guilt trip of “other people have it so much worse, you have nothing to complain about.” I’ve heard it all. And I’ve heard it from the people who are supposed to love and support me. I remember these things being said to me as early as six years old. That can be extremely damaging to a child.

I finally realized maybe being mad and frustrated and annoyed at the world all the time wasn’t normal. Maybe feeling like the rug is being ripped out from under you, or that you are running from a giant wave that is constantly nipping at your heels, ready to crash over you and drown you at any second, isn’t normal.

The year leading up to finally being diagnosed with anxiety, I was so incredibly overwhelmed and stressed that I was beginning to show outward symptoms. In the past, it had only really happened around my family (yet they still wouldn’t acknowledge that something was wrong). But it was happening at work. At that point in time, work was the greatest stressor in my life. There was a lot going on. But I did have a coworker bring up the fact that I was sometimes a bit hard or short with other coworkers. At that point, I thought I simply had an anger problem. I was always pissed off about something, and for the most part, I kept it to myself. It would build up inside me to the point where I was completely incapable of thinking about anything else. I couldn’t get any work done, and at that point in time, I was essentially doing the jobs of three people. Although everyone else was stressed, none of them seemed to be stressed to the extent that I was. The reason I didn’t quit my job them is because I had convinced myself I was terrible at everything and would never be hired by anyone else. I felt like a complete failure at life.

I know now that all of that was a very obvious sign of anxiety and depression, but at that time, I didn’t know what anxiety was and I didn’t have enough of an understanding of depression to recognize that either, even though I was sure I’d experienced it in the past, I really didn’t know.

I can now see that it is obviously not normal to be mad at the world all the time, paranoid everyone is against me, freaking out over the littlest thing, like someone putting the groceries away in the wrong place, or coming home from the market with the wrong type of milk. I know I cannot undo the past, and although sometimes I look back at that time and feel embarrassed, ashamed and angry at myself for not recognizing my irrational behavior sooner, I know now that because I suffered unknowingly with anxiety for such a long time, I could not have been able to recognize it any sooner, even if I wanted to.

It’s now been about a year and 8 months since I was first diagnosed. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs. I’m still dealing with it. I’m still struggling. I’ve had periods where I’ve had more good days and I’ve had periods where I’ve had more bad days. Right now, I’m having more bad days, even though things are going really well (more depression than anxiety right now). I just have to keep reminding myself that it’s ok.

And I’m on to antidepressant number 4! Yes, four.

I’m probably a little too good at hiding my symptoms. Years of being made to feel like my feelings are irrational and overdramatic, or that I am way too sensitive have taught me to internalize everything.

Talking about it while I’m in the midst of is super uncomfortable. I don’t mind talking about it afterward the fact, because it’s in the past, but when I’m in it, I don’t know if I’ll get out, and that’s stressful on its own.

I know they say it gets better, but when you’re depression is chronic, rather than episodic, it’s a lot harder to believe.

It hasn’t been quite as bad as this time last year, but last year I had an emotionally traumatic event as a trigger. This time, everything is going excellent, which makes it far more difficult to deal with because there’s no logical reason for feeling like a worthless piece of shit.

This time last year, I was so overwhelmed with emotions and pain that I didn’t know how to deal. Now, it’s not like this:

  • lack of emotion, most of the time.
  • Inability to sleep, but not because I’m worrying about everything and it’s keeping me awake, more that I’m not drowsy when I should be, even though I’m physically exhausted and all o want to do is be curled up in bed.
  • Absolutely zero motivation to do anything, except to make sure no one notices, to I continue on as if everything is fine, waiting for it to go away.
  • Almost constant suicidal thoughts or wishing I was dead.

I feel lost in life. Like in just going through the motions. Simply existing, rather than actually living. I’ve felt like this before without a trigger, but that was before I understood what depression was, before I was diagnosed.

I talked to my doctor today because I’ve been on the same dosage of medication since January, and the fact I’m feeling this way indicates that it’s not helping as much as it should.

Because one of the meds I’m on had been making me tired, he decided it’s probably time to try something else.

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I started seeing a new counselor recently, because I was getting fed up with not feeling like I’ve made any progress. Even though I have made progress, it doesn’t really feel like it, especially because I’ve been battling frequent suicidal thoughts again.

For a while, it was down to where it might pop into my head in the form of a Pure-O (OCD) intrusive thought, maybe once or twice a week, but I could brush it off with the simplest, even unintentional, of distractions. However, over the past month or so, it has gradually returned to the point of, almost daily, obsession.

There wasn’t any one specific trigger, but maybe a few small things happening in a short time span. I started feeling worthless again. Like a failure at everything. A waste of space. I began to spend hours thinking about it — and trying not to think about, which makes you think about it even more. For the first time, I actually started to become afraid a may act upon my thoughts. It’s never gotten to the point where I actually thought I might act upon them before. It usually just remains frequent obsession, but my anxiety would take over and give me all sorts of reasons not to actually try. Maybe my anxiety is getting better…? That’s scary.

Since I first met my new counselor a few weeks ago, it’s gotten a little less frequent. Not that we’ve actually talked about it. We’re still in the getting to know each other phase. But I think there was something reassuring about the fact that someone new was legitimizing my struggles. I think things had just gotten a little stale, and I needed a refreshing perspective.

That’s not too say my suicidal thoughts and feelings of worthlessness are gone, but I’ve managed to have a few days of peace, at least in that regard. The anxiety and depression are still alive and kicking. The social thoughts are a whole other beast.

Taking about this when I’m still kind of in the midst of it is really difficult. I don’t tend to do that. It’s easier to talk about it after its passed. Partially because I just don’t have the energy. I think I’m also afraid of letting anyone see truly hope much pain I’m in while in in it. Especially when I don’t feel there’s any good reason for it. And that’s basically depression in a nutshell.

Anyway, the reason I am talking about this right now is because it’s relevant to something else I wanted to talk about.

So, part of how I ended up seeing this counselor was because at my last doctor’s appointment, he asked when I was next seeing my social worker (who is part of the mental health team at my doctor’s clinic) and I mentioned that he’d been making it about 6 weeks between appointments. He asked if I was OK with that and I finally said what I’d been procrastinating saying for a while. I wanted something more regular, because I feel like I’m not dealing with things that well. Whether it was with my social worker or someone else didn’t matter, although I was beginning to feel he wasn’t equipped to provide the insight I needed. So my doctor offered to refer me to some psychologists/therapists/etc. to get a new perspective.

A few days ago, I had my second appointment. He’s still on the big lists of questions to sort of figure out what we need to work on. I don’t remember what I said or what he had asked me, but while we were getting into the anxiety questions, he suddenly said, “I wonder if you might have ADD.”

He picked up his phone (apparently he only came prepared to cover anxiety and depression) and said we were going to do the short list of questions to see if we should do the longer, more detailed one.

Over the past year and a half, I’ve done a lot of reading about mental illnesses. In doing so, it helps me sort of understand my mind a little better. It also makes it hard not to self-diagnose. The good thing is, my anxiety kind of prevents me from actually believing my self-diagnoses, until someone else actually legitimizes it. My short also prevents me from specifically bringing it up.

I’d been wondering, for several months now, if I may have ADD but it has never come up before.

So, it was about 20 questions, and to get a result of maybe having ADD, you had to answer ‘yes’ or ‘sometimes’ to I think not than half of them. Not including my sometimes, I was already up to about 15 or 16. I think I only said no to 1 or 2.

It’s not an official diagnosis yet, but he said he’s not ready to rule it out.

He also said that if I do have ADD, it may actually be there main issue that my anxiety stems from, which would explain why my anxiety hasn’t really gotten better. By only treating one of the symptoms, you’re not actually solving the problem. So even if my anxiety gets better, or goes away completely, it will probably keep coming back. If the main problem is ADD, and we treat that, it could potentially solve everything else.

I thought it was quite interesting and makes a lot of sense. We’ll see how it goes when we get into the detailed, 70 question version of the ADD stuff.


Anxiety & ADD Tip

Fidget toys are incredible! I’ve tried a few because I have a lot of nervous energy, so I’m always fidgety, but now knowing I might also have ADD, it makes even more sense. For smaller, more subtle fidgeting, I love these and these! I had heard of these first though, but never knew where to buy then till a few weeks ago. This one is my favourite. I absolutely love them!

16 Little Things You Can Do For Someone With Anxiety

Numbers 1 and 11!!!!! Fuuuuuuck!!!!!!!

1. Don’t put off responding to a message.

Nobody is saying that you have to be available all the time, but leaving an anxious person waiting for hours can create way more discomfort for them than just leaving a quick message.

Just don’t!

11. Don’t create unnecessary suspense.

Phrases like “I need to talk to you later” can make all of us nervous, so just imagine how that feels for someone with anxiety.

Why?

Because it gives us too much time to let our imagination run wild. And it will! Guaranteed. And it’s never good. It usually either someone is dead or you hate us. Or in work situations, we’re fired.

Doesn’t matter how great we think we’re doing and that the bad thing has never happened before and we know how extremely unlikely it is, our minds go there whether we want it to or not.

When were stuggling the most, it is extremely difficult to remind ourselves of how illogical and irrational it is. When were managing it better, we talk back to the thought and can move on, but it doesn’t stop the thoughts from happening in the first place.

I turned to pull the covers back over my head and give up for the day. What I always did. That’s when I came face to face with Buddy.

Buddy started jumping all over me, kissing my face, letting me know that it was time to go outside. It was as if he was saying, “It’s no time to be sad, the world is awesome!”

Dogs are amazing creatures! This is what it was like for me with Mosley.

Difference being, I hadn’t been diagnosed yet when I got Mosley. I also didn’t get to my lowest point until a couple years later.

When I was in my deepest, darkest depression, Mosley was the reason I got up every morning when I had no motivation to, he was the reason why I smiled when I didn’t want to, laughed when I didn’t think I could. Most importantly, he kept me alive when I wanted to die.

On June 26, 2016, thousands of cyclists will come together to celebrate and strengthen mental health for all Canadians while raising $1,500,000 for mental health programs and services – and I will be one of them! Ride Don’t Hide is a community bike ride taking place in over 30 communities across Canada benefitting the Canadian Mental Health Association. I’m proud to participate in Ride Don’t Hide 2016 and invite you to join the movement and show your support with a donation or by joining me as a rider, a fundraising virtual rider or a volunteer. Thank you!


I first heard about Ride Don’t Hide about a year ago. I considered participating then, but it was really close to the event, I wasn’t in good enough shape to even survive the event, and every other possible excuse you can possibly think of.

About 7 months earlier, I had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Physically, my excuses weren’t unfounded. Mentally, I really couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of actually participating in such an event, even though I had been quite open about my battle and I legitimately wanted to do it.

There was this voice in my head – that little voice that is supposed to remain in the back of your mind… it was front and centre – that had me convinced I couldn’t do it.

Over the past year, the idea of participating in Ride Don’t Hide has been floating around in my brain, occasionally popping up to remind me I wanted to do it. And each time, that nagging little voice of anxiety and depression were there to remind me that I’m in terrible shape and every time I make any attempt change that, I fail. I set insane goals for myself with no timeline for completion and I fail every time. Why? Because my greatest talent is procrastination.

Then, the weekend of CAMH One Brave Night rolled around – which I participated in without a second thought, even though I have a circadian rhythm sleep disorder and I really shouldn’t be messing with my sleep pattern on such a significant way. I had been wondering when Ride Don’t Hide was taking place so I went to the website. I sat there staring at it for a while, coming up with excuse after excuse.

I considered signing up as a virtual rider because then I wouldn’t have to do anything. After about 30 minutes of excuse making it hit me. I want to get in better shape. Be healthier. I don’t care so much about losing weight, I simply want to be able to do things I used to do without being out of breath or in pain. Although, out doesn’t help that I have asthma and enough old injuries to pretty much guarantee something will always hurt, no matter what I do. I’ve struggled with my weight since my preteens, but I have never been in as terrible shape as I have been since my early-mid 20s. (I’m now on my late 20s.)

Telling myself I can get in shape at my own pace, clearly, wasn’t working. I’ve been trying for years and it’s only gotten worse.

I kept thinking, oh I’ll sign up once I start exercising more so I know I can do it. That wasn’t working either.

Then it hit me I knew I had to register now or I would never do it!

Now, I have a very achievable goal with a timeline for completion. Having that deadline has given me a ton more motivation to work at it. It’s only been a couple days but I’m already doing better than all the other times I tried to get myself in better shape. My sleep/wake phase issues are making my preferred exercise time difficult, but the thought of not being able to do the ride is keeping me going when it would be more than easy to “skip it,” but I know that skipping it will lead to giving up. I may have days where I don’t want to, and I’m not in denial about that anymore. Knowing I have this goal in mind, I think, will force me to keep going.

This is one of those things where my anxiety actually works in my favour. More than wanting to be in better shape, I don’t want to look an idiot. Normally, I would expect people to tell me not to think that way and tell me all kinds of positive things about myself that I won’t believe, but that’s part of what is going to keep me going and get me to June 26th!

The only thing I’m concerned about is what I’m going to do to keep myself motivated after Ride Don’t Hide. I’m hoping that I will have had enough success, by that point, that the success itself will keep me going, but I’m trying not let myself get my hopes up. I’m going to need to find another date oriented goal to keep me going, but for now, I just need to keep my focus and get as much support as I can to help keep me on track!

Please, help me reach my goal by sponsoring me for Ride Don’t Hide! Your dollars will go towards helping the CMHA provide much needed support to those battling mental illness and will help keep me motivated to advice my goal of being healthy, both physically and mentally.

This week is mental health week, and as devastating as things are in the news in Canada right now, it almost seems appropriate for this topic to come up.


Many people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder find that watching the news triggers their anxiety. Generally, I don’t find news to bother me too much. I mean, I can hear a story about some product I use or have used or food I’ve purchased that has a recall or some controversy of some kind and that can get me thinking obsessively about whether or not I’m going to be affected by it in any way.

For the most part, I’m pretty good at pushing those thoughts away with logic.

However, when it does bother me, it’s usually because I have some kind of connection to some part of the story.

News

Right now, Fort McMurray is all over the news because of raging wildfires causing the entire city to be evacuated.

As some of you may know, I lived in Alberta for several years. I lived in northern Alberta for four and a half years during high school. Fort Mac is about a 7.5 hours drive northeast of where I lived. It’s only that long because you have to go south a ways to get there. There’s not much going on up in that part of the province. Everything is far away.

I only ever went to Fort Mac one time, on a band trip in grade 11. We left early to go to Edmonton because there was nothing to do after we finished playing at the festival. So, I don’t have much to say about it as a city, but being a well known city in a province I called home for 14 years, I have a bit of an emotional connection to it. To any city in the province, really. I also know a few people, clients from my former employer, from the public school division in Fort McMurray.

Fear & Anxiety

If it had been anything else, it probably wouldn’t have bothered me as much but because it’s a fire, it upsets me a fair bit.

I have a very intense fear of fire. I don’t want to say it’s an irrational fear – because, you know, it’s fire, it can be very dangerous and unpredictable, so it isn’t completely irrational – but the severity of it is right up there and may almost qualify it as irrational.

There probably isn’t any actual logical reason why I’m afraid of fire. I have a very similar fear of lightning, tornadoes, hurricanes, and sharp objects that can cut off limbs. I have a hard time even being near the gas fireplace in my parents’ house. Even when it’s not turned on. Seeing anything about house fires, forest fires, wildfires, etc. on the news or online scares me.

Intrusive Thoughts

In addition to the “simple” fear of fire, seeing images of things like what is happening in Fort McMurray right now, triggers very vivid, intrusive thoughts.

I used to brush it off as simply having a vivid imagination. That was before I understood what intrusive thoughts were. I don’t even need to be looking at an image of a fire to see, in my head, it raging through a bunch of dry trees and engulfing an entire neighbourhood.

Images on TV shows and movies of people being trapped in fire burning houses and being burned alive have probably contributed significantly to the images I see in my head when I don’t want to.

But that’s the key with intrusive thoughts, they’re unwanted. They are intrusive because they seemingly come out of nowhere. I have kind of figured out what can trigger many of my reoccurring intrusive thoughts, but in most cases it’s everyday things. I can’t avoid these triggers. It’s impossible.

I’ve been living with these intrusive thoughts for so long, that I’ve sort of gotten used to them, but that doesn’t make them any less intense or less unsettling. It’s just something I have to deal with on a daily basis.