“…7th April at 2 p.m.”
“Erm… but her doctor said she’ll be reviewed in 3 months…” My mum looked a little surprised.
“Sorry, mam, that’s the earliest slot we have,” answered the receptionist in practised politeness.
“It’s a public hospital after all,” I explained after we had made the payment.
“Tell you what,” she offered, “We’ll push back the doctor’s appointment then.” She didn’t look too happy.
Mums. Sometimes they think their children are the only people in the world.
So on Wednesday, I got myself to the local public hospital in hopes of obtaining a magic pill that could solve my problems in a day. What I got was another referral instead, this time to a psychologist. At least the young psychiatrist gave me an official diagnosis written in black & white: “Anxiety d/o, Depression d/o“. “d/o” stands for disorder by the way (thanks, Google!).
I didn’t know how I felt about that. I’d always thought I was depressed, but it turns out my depressive episodes have not manifested into chronic major depression. Yet. Instead, they’re caused by underlying anxiety. Generalised anxiety, in specific. This is when patients are not able to get rid of excessive worrying to the extent that it affects their physiological well-being and cognitive function. Très bien.
Now this is where I feel ashamed. I’d always either been irritated by chronic worriers or felt pity towards them. My sister is one who makes mountains out of molehills and it annoys me to no end. I have friends who vocalise their small worries on a daily basis, making me feel bad for them. Doesn’t help that I’m “consulting therapist” to most of them. I’d always wanted them to do something for themselves instead of sitting down worrying. Little did I know that I was no different from them. The only thing setting us apart is my inability to express myself, possibly as a result of anxiety. Everything swims in my head and I appear fine. According to one friend, I surprise people everyday. I have the ability to make people laugh even when I’m in deep emotional turmoil.
Disaster thinking. One of the hallmarks of generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). I do this almost every hour of the day. Going to fail exam. Can’t graduate. Can’t go to university. Can’t get a decent job. No money. Live with parents for the rest of my life. Become a hobo. Become recluse (not that I’m not one now).
Unyielding thoughts. Thoughts that have little or no basis for worry. The day I went to the hospital, I couldn’t stop thinking about going to the hospital and seeing the psychiatrist. So much so that I went to the toilet 3 times in 4 hours and nearly died from the intestinal cramps.
Restlessness, tension (just got noticed by my design teacher), irritability, absentmindedness, inability to relax, trouble functioning (can you picture Sherlock rambling on and on?). Physical symptoms I was totally oblivious to. I can see this in myself since I was 15. That’s when my closest friends told me I had changed. This also means I had spent more than half my adolescence with a mental disorder which just got more and more serious as the years went by.
I’d only noticed because I began having trouble functioning. I’m becoming more and more of a recluse these days. I don’t get out of the house much anymore. People scare me. They didn’t scare me when I was in secondary school. Back then, I saw gangsters everyday. Now, I get scared even among my classmates, who are, by the way, very decent people.
The most shameful thing I’ll spill out here is this: I began getting scared of boys. I can put out a good happy face in front of my female friends, but once a guy looks at me or tries to make conversation with me, I either shoot him a horrible look (*scowls*) or reply distantly (kthxbai). It doesn’t apply to my close guy friends. I think my underlying fear is that of someone taking an interest in me (okay, some are downright creepy, granted). NO FREAKING WAY. NO NO NO. MUM SAID NO BOYFRIENDS (well at least she used to when I was 13). I am going to live in a studio apartment with my cat. Only my fat, furry cat. I’ll name him Snapper so no one will come close. We’ll live happily ever after.
My body jumps into fight-or-flight mode whenever a member of the male species I have not established enough trust with looks at me. Icicles pop out all around me and that thin thread of potential friendship? It snaps. It snaps and the opportunity is gone forever.
I guess all these factors and consequences all overlap each other. Everything causes everything and everything results in everything. It’s just part of an anxious person’s thoughts and behaviour. They normally go away, but if they don’t, it can be crippling and there’s always a chance that you might develop other mental illnesses that complement it. Such as depression. Speaking from experience, depression is not exactly a pleasant feeling. Sure, wallowing self-pity feels good, but then you start wanting to not-exist anymore. That, if you did not know, is an issue.
If you happen to be reading this and suspect that you or someone you know is somehow affected by anxiety and/or depression, please see a doctor. The earlier you get a diagnosis, the better. Because I didn’t know I had anxiety until the professionals pointed it out to me. At least I know what to Google now (very useful). You will get better without any treatment, but the problem almost always returns with a vengeance and I always believe that everyone deserves to live (apart from when I’m depressed; everyone can die then). I also love fluffy dogs.