My Diagnosis Story [Mental Health Monday]

Welcome to another Mental Health Monday. Today, I’m going to talking about when I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Mental Health Monday: My GAD Diagnosis Story | Mental Health | Mental Health Matters | Anxiety | Generalized Anxiety Disorder | Creative Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

Heading To High School

I was never a social butterfly, especially in school. High school was hard. I just wanted to get through each day and make it to the end of the year which would eventually lead to graduation. I felt like I was in a rut – wake up, go to school, do homework, go to bed. I also had a job and babysat in the afternoons as well so there wasn’t a whole lot of room for downtime. But, I much preferred to go to work and babysit than go to school.

I don’t remember middle school being like this. I didn’t really like middle school either, but I had a good group of friends. That group was lost by the time I headed into high school. One friend moved towns so she went to a different high school. Another friend had decided to go to a trade school. One friend stopped talking to me because he deemed himself a “cool high school” kid as he tried to fit in. Another friend did the same – except she didn’t have many other friends. So, as she tried to find her place, she remained “friends” with me. But she wasn’t happy about it.

(There was another friend in the group and she and I are still friends to this day. So something good came out of this.)

Anyway, when I was a freshman my sister was a senior. I often hung out with her and her friends because they were better than hanging out with than people in my class. This particular friend did the same because she thought hanging with seniors made her cool. However, she was going through some difficult times so when my sister and her friends graduated, she was completely lost. So was I, to be honest.

But instead of sticking together, she wanted nothing to do with me… but she still hung around me anyway.

Junior Year

Halfway through my high school career, it was the first day back from winter break (if I remember correctly… it was January, I remember that much). My alarm woke me up and something flipped a switch. I turned off the alarm, rolled over, and went back to sleep. My mom came up to wake me a while later. I told her I wasn’t going to school. She assumed I needed a mental health day and let me skip.

But each morning was the same. I woke up just to go back to sleep. Eventually, I didn’t even set my alarm anymore. I would only get out of bed until it was “safe.” Meaning, I’d be so late for school and everyone else was at school or work so I’d have no way of getting to school anyway.

My poor mother was at a loss. Even I was at a loss. I knew it was wrong, but I couldn’t bring myself to go to school. Even when my mom said, “Your job is to go to school,” “You need to go to school,” or, “Why don’t you want to go to school?” I responded logically in my head. “I know my job is to go to school,” “I know I need my high school diploma,” and, “I have no idea why I don’t want to go.” But out loud I simply replied, “I don’t want to.”

Doctor Appointments

My mom took me to go see my primary care doctor. She too was at a loss and was kind of harsh about the situation. She asked what I did all day. I told her I’d clean the house, I’d get my writing done, sometimes I would just chill and get the chance to sit and watch TV. I was still going to my job and still babysitting. I just didn’t want to go to school. That was totally not okay in my doctor’s book. She told my mother that if I wasn’t going to go to school, then I wasn’t allowed to do anything else.

Needless to say, we got a second opinion. When we went back to the doctor’s, we saw someone different. She was more sympathetic and in tune to what we all had to say. That fact that I had no idea why I didn’t want to go to school was totally okay with her.

They wondered if I had depression, but because going to school was the only thing I refused to do, it was confusing to them. If I had depression, I most likely wouldn’t want to write or go to work. So, the doctor referred us to a therapist.

Going To Therapy

Our neighbor was in therapy for anxiety and she recommended her therapist to us. I saw her for a few years and it was the best thing that I ever did. But still, it took a while to figure things out.

A lot of things came to light. I explained to her about my “friend” – who thought I was lying to her about why I wasn’t coming to school, thus spread rumors about me that I had died, and so on. I explained to her how most of my teachers weren’t on my side. My high school classes were split into two levels – academic and honors (honors being a higher level than academic). I was in all academic my freshman year and even though I had As and Bs, I had to argue to get into honors classes. My teachers all thought honors would be too hard for me.

So, when all this happened, they dropped me down to academic classes because they assumed I was too overwhelmed with the work, despite my grades. I had trouble with oral presentations, but I still got good grades in all my classes (except math. Math is awful, but I was never in honors for math and I knew that was the right choice). My point is, if my teachers didn’t believe in me, then why was going to going to spend six hours a day with them?

One of my teachers even spoke about my grades to this “friend” of mine. My friend called me saying, “You had better get your work in because she doesn’t know what grade to give you for your report card.” This was the friend who told my classmates I had died. This was my friend who I was there for when she went through her own mental health issues in eighth grade and was now thinking I was lying to her. This was the friend who saw my issues as a gossip-fest. This was the friend who never once called me this entire time to see how I was feeling – expect to “scold” me about my schoolwork.

Now, mind you, at this point, I was going after school for an hour to be tutored and get my work done. This particular teacher, my English teacher ironically, was the only teacher who had not given me work. How can I pass in non-existent work? And then she was talking to my classmates about my grades.

It was shortly after this that we all mutually – my mom, therapist, and I – agreed that I would not be going back to high school. A lot of things came to light and everyone realized that my high school simply wasn’t the best place for me. My therapist also thought that I was just the type of person to know what I wanted and high school couldn’t give that to me.

Some Good Things Did Come From This

I was ready to drop out. I didn’t think I had any other choice. My therapist actually found a Dual Enrollment program at my local community college. I would be able to go to that college and take classes for a year to fill up the rest of my high school requirements. Yet, the credits will also go towards a college degree. So, my first year of college killed two birds with one stone. I still graduated high school and got my diploma and I was already halfway done with my Associate’s degree.

I was able to stop being friends with that particular person. Which is kind of sad in a way because we were friends since third grade. But, looking back, she was even like that in elementary school. It was just something I never noticed.

I’ve learned a lot too. Everything I do now – the blogging, the writing, business, and marketing – it’s all stuff I taught myself through research and hands-on experience with trial and error. Maybe I should have gone to college for business or something of the like, but I’ve come so far myself. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished despite all I went through to get to this point.

It’s Still There

I still struggle with my anxiety on a day to day basis. Some days are definitely harder than others. It still affects my relationships. I have a hard time running errands sometimes. It actually took me a really long time to understand the anxiety myself. This post came out a lot different than I intended it to, but it still felt good to write.

Let me know your thoughts on this post in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder? [Mental Health Monday]

Here we are, already into February for 2019. This year is going to fly by just like the past few previous years. If you’ve been staying up to date with me, you’ll know that I have added a new feature onto the blog for this year – Mental Health Monday. This is the second post in the series, the first talking about why I’m opening up about it.

In that post I talked about how I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). So many people believe “anxiety” is a loose term, but it’s actually an umbrella for multiple types of anxiety. For a long time, I thought anxiety was just one category as well. I mean, we all have a little anxiety inside of us – whether we’re about to take a big test in school or we need to stand up on stage and do a public speaking event.

In the end though, some of us get it worse than others.

Mental Health Monday: What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder? | Mental Health | Anxiety | Anxiety Disorders | GAD | Blogging | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

Types of Anxiety Disorders

As I stated before, anxiety occurs in all of us in some form of another. Most of the time it’s passed over as just being nervous for a certain test but we all get the sensation once in a while. In that sense, anxiety can be used loosely, but there are anxiety disorders such as:

  • Social Anxiety – when a person has intense fear of social situations. This can be eating in public, being among a crowd of people, or making small talk with as little as one or two people. Social anxiety makes you feel like people are criticizing whatever you’re doing or saying. You might say something wrong or stupid and end up embarrassed going home at the end of the night lying wide awake thinking, “Why did I have to say that…?”
  • Panic Disorder – when a person has panic attacks that are intense and uncontrollable combined with physical symptoms.
  • Specific Phobias – we all have something we’re afraid of though, for some, it can be pretty intense and bring on anxiety attacks and throw your whole day off.
  • OCD & PTSD – while these aren’t considered anxiety disorders, anxiety may be present in both of these.

And finally, there’s…

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

This anxiety disorder is when someone feels excessive worry and is anxious about many different things. We overthink and plan out every simple thing and plan ahead even more in case something goes right or something goes wrong. Most often than not, we assume something will go wrong and worry, worry, worry about it 24/7. We believe it will go wrong so much that we tend to end up making things go wrong. Because, in our heads, it already went wrong before it even started.

This has effected many aspects of my life throughout the years – school, work, relationships – you know, everything that’s important in life. However, before I was diagnosed, I thought I was just weird and simply overthinking things. I couldn’t understand how to get my mind to stop. Then, when I was diagnosed… I still didn’t get it.

It Took Me a Long Time to Understand GAD

It wasn’t until fairly recently that I’ve come to terms with GAD and truly figured out what it meant for me to have it. I’ve had GAD since I was 16 – about nine years now – and it wasn’t until last year, 2018, that I realized what goes on in my head.

I mean, truth be told, I may never fully understand it, but I know more now than I used to. Even after I was diagnosed with GAD, I thought it was just the “official” term for “anxiety.” You know, professionals sounding fancy. Apparently, I have more than that.

I’ve always been a worrier and never showed it too much when I was younger because, even though I was truly freaking out, deep down I knew there was nothing to be worried about. Then something flipped a switch inside my brain in high school and all of the sudden I had GAD. I’ll get into that story in the next Mental Health Monday post, but it’s interesting to me how I’ve gone my whole life like this and didn’t have a clue that there was something more going on in my mind.

What Do You Mean “Worry?”

I worry over stupid stuff. I mean, I guess it’s not necessarily “stupid,” but in hindsight it doesn’t seem like it matters.

Anything I do or say, I worry is “wrong.”

For example, if I text someone and they don’t reply for a while, I don’t immediately think they’re at work and can’t reply. I don’t think they’re hanging out with friends and just haven’t checked their phone. I don’t think they’re phone is on silent and they just didn’t notice the text ping through. I don’t even think they’re busy in any way, shape, or form.

My immediate thought is that I said something wrong, stupid, selfish, embarrassing, what have you. My immediate thought is that they’re not replying because they saw my text, gave it a weird face, and put their phone down because they don’t know how to answer me.

Or worse, they’re ignoring me because they suddenly hate me despite us hanging out the night before.

This is sometimes why it takes me a while to reply back. I’m afraid to say something stupid and I need to craft the perfect response – or sometimes I’m just having a really bad day and can’t talk to people. By me doing that, I’m doing the exact same thing I’m afraid you’ll do to me… see the vicious cycle?

It Makes Me Feel Self-Centered

Now, I know people get busy. I know the world doesn’t revolve around me. I know people have other friends and family than just me. So, when I get upset or worried that someone doesn’t reply, I immediately feel guilty for thinking like that in the first place. Or I’ll text them again and again after a little while. I’ll panic wondering if my text messages are even going through. When they do reply, I’ll apologize and feel upset for bothering them.

Which is another thing. If I text someone first, I feel like I’m bothering that person even though I know they don’t have to respond. If they don’t respond, then I assume they hate me. So, I rarely text people first. But if someone doesn’t text me first, I assume they hate me and don’t want to talk to me.

See the whole self-centered thing? I’m getting a headache just writing this.

Texting Isn’t The Only Example

Texting is just one way my mind goes in circles. I think that’s a good enough example for now though.

My original point of this post was to explain what exactly GAD is and how it effects my way of thinking. A lot of my real life friends know I have “anxiety” but don’t understand that I have GAD and when I tell them, they get confused and don’t know what it is. I’ve been diagnosed with this for nine years and, like I said, I just fully understood it myself just last year. So, it’s hard when no one else seems to have a clue what’s going on inside your head.

Not that I expect them all to understand. They can’t put themselves in my shoes and I wouldn’t want them to. But now, at this point in my life, I think it’s time I start sharing and explaining things more. Maybe it will help in the long run.

Let me know your thoughts on this post in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Why I’m Opening Up [Mental Health Monday]

Mental health is important. It’s everywhere and effects a lot of people. Some people you know about and others don’t open up about it for whatever reason or they hide it. We’ve been talking about mental health more in recent months and it’s something that should always be talked about. There’s no shame in mental health – just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take care of yourselves in that sense.

Yet, mental health is a tricky subject. There are still people out there who don’t “agree” with mental health or don’t think it “exists.” This is bizarre to me, but maybe that’s because I have mental health issues myself that it’s hard for me to put myself in someone’s else’s shoes and believe it’s “all in my head.”

Mental Health Monday is a new feature I’m adding to the blog in 2019 that will be posted once a month. I’ve started talking about my mental health more in 2018 – though I’ll admit it was just a handful of times on Twitter (I think). I wanted to talk about it more in 2019 and beyond. I also wanted to add more “personal” posts on this blog and mental health is a huge topic and it’s a huge part of who I am.

Mental Health Monday: Why I'm Opening Up | Anxiety | Generalized Anxiety Disorder | Creative Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

Why I’m Opening Up

Like I said, I’ve never really talked about my mental health before. Despite wanting to do more personal posts and letting you guys get to know me more, I wanted to talk about my mental health on the blog – for the whole Internet and world to see – for one reason only.

I’m ready.

I have been diagnosed since I was 16 – so it’s been about nine years. If I remember correctly, I was diagnosed in January or February. Needless to say, it’s been a long time. Aside from a few close people who knew, I never talked about it. Even though I had been officially diagnosed by a professional, part of me still wasn’t sure what was “wrong” with me.

When I quit my job almost two years ago now, I’ve done quite a bit of soul searching and – this will sound weird but – I’ve done a lot of research on myself and my mental health. This has led me to become ready to be more open about my mental health and about who I am as a person.

This is who I am.

I don’t know what made me decide to do the research. I don’t know why I had waited so long. I don’t know why I had decided to do it after I quit my job. Maybe it was because I didn’t know what I was doing with my life. I didn’t know how to get from point A to point B. I made a huge decision. I took a big risk. Maybe it was because of that I decided to do some soul searching. Not to mention, a lot of things have happened in my life that was effected by my anxiety. I took the time to finally sit down and figure out what goes on in my mind.

I did the research, which consisted of reading articles from The Mighty as well as going on Pinterest. It was the biggest eye-opener I’ve ever had. Every article I read was me. Everything that was listed in those blog posts were things I think about every day. They were things I do, things I say. Little quirks I have are “normal” for someone like me. It was weird for me to realize that because even though I’ve been diagnosed and I know it’s a common thing, I always thought I was the only one.

It made me realize, this is who I am. This is normal for me. I’m normal, even if others don’t always see that.

I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

I’ll save the diagnosis story for another time, but I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. A lot of people think there’s just “anxiety” and that’s it, but there are various kinds of anxiety. Some get it worse than others, some are diagnosed with different types. I don’t have just anxiety, I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I’ll explain more about what GAD is in the next post.

Until then, I hope you enjoy this series. I’m looking forward to talking about it. I’m ready to open up.

I hope you enjoy this new series on the blog. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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My Trip To Canada [Life]

If any of you follow me on Twitter, I’m sure you saw a couple of tweets from me at the beginning of the month about me being away. My blog was still running as scheduled, but I wasn’t reading or commenting on anyone else’s blogs. I wasn’t answering comments on this blog and I was barely on social media.

I was in Canada for EGLX – Enthusiast Gaming Live Expo – for my other blog, Double Jump, and also for myself.

My sister Kris and I have been wanting to go to a gaming convention or expo for a really long time now. Pretty much all of the YouTube gamers we watch was going to be there. They ran a couple of panels and put on a show. This was an opportunity we knew we couldn’t pass up.

I don’t do anything spontaneous. I’m an organized person, I have slight OCD, and I need to have a plan for the day, the week, the future, everything. I know plans change and things come up and I’m a pretty flexible person, but I’ll admit there have been a few situations where I’ve been agitated or upset because something didn’t go as I planned.

Being spontaneous is a good thing, shaking things up is a good thing. But sometimes my brain doesn’t think so.

I haven’t been on an airplane since I was 3. I don’t remember it and just tell people I’ve never flown before. So many things have changed since then anyway. I also have never been out of the country. I’ve never taken a trip without my parents. Yes, I’m 24, but I still need my mom and dad.

So you can imagine my reaction when Kris burst into our office one day and said, “By the way, we’re going to Canada!”

I should also mention I’ve never really planned a vacation either. I mean, I have, but with my parent’s help or my aunt and uncle’s help from the times we’ve gone to Disney with them.

Kris and I had to figure out how to book a flight, get our passports, figure out money and currency exchange, find our way around the airport, decide how to get from the airport to the hotel, the hotel to the convention center, and back again. It’s a lot. I knew it was going to be a lot but it’s one of those things you don’t realize how much work it is until you actually do it yourself.

But I did it. Kris and I did it.

Canada EGLX | Video Games | Gaming | Travel | RachelPoli.com

Why am I explaining all of this even though this trip was mainly for my video game blog? Well, I wanted to explain that we’re capable of doing much more than we think. This trip was a huge eye-opener for me.

I have generalized anxiety disorder. I won’t go into too much detail about it. Maybe someday I will, but for now, I’ll leave you with this: some days I do well, other days it kills me.

Being on an airplane, for example, flares up my anxiety. I know a lot of people get like this with flying, so it’s pretty common.

I’m going to Disney in April where I will have to go on an airplane. The last few times I’ve gone, we’ve driven down there. I’ve been panicking and sometimes dreading going to Disney, the happiest place on earth because I need to go on an airplane.

What if the plane crashes? What if we, for some reason, can’t get home? What if I get claustrophobic? What if I have an anxiety attack in the middle of the flight? What if I have to go to the bathroom or start to feel sick? What if someone else on the plane gets sick?

There’s always that “what if” for everything in life, but now I know what to expect. Now I’m actually excited to go.

I had a great time on the plane. The flight was only an hour and a half and it went by so fast. Yes, I did have an anxiety pill, but I honestly don’t know if I really needed it. I got cookies and apple juice on the flight which was really good. I watched the map and followed where the plane was and where it was going on the way there. On the way back I watched Mrs. Doubtfire and had pretzels and apple juice.

On the way to Canada, I sat in the aisle because I was nervous the window would make me sick. I didn’t want to stare into the abyss to remind me of how high we were. On the way back, I sat by the window and loved watching the plane ascend and descend. I loved seeing the buildings from above. We were also sitting right next to the plane’s wing both ways so that was certainly cool to see as well. I’ve never seen a plane up close before.

I was also nervous about the expo itself. Kris and I were going to be in an unfamiliar place, a large room filled with, what seemed to be, a thousand people. It was crowded. It was loud. There was a lot going on. I don’t do well in those situations.

But I did it. I was fine and I had a good time. Sure, there were some moments I felt claustrophobic, but there were so many things to do and games to play, I was able to keep my mind off it and just focus on the good.

And I did this for three days in a row.

EGLX in Canada | Gaming | Travel | RachelPoli.com

I’ve realized something important about myself while going on that trip. I knew my anxiety was all in my mind, but this proved that it really is just in my mind.

I’ve always wanted to travel but never have because I was afraid to leave my house. I was afraid I’d die on the plane.

It was amazing to see all the art and talent of various people who share a love of video games. It was fantastic to see the YouTubers who have inspired me to do what I do today. (Our hotel room was right next door and across the hall from a couple of them!)

It may seem kind of silly, but even though I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was in elementary school, these YouTubers have changed my life.

A few of them have anxiety and/or depression and talk openly about it which has helped me a lot. Their videos are funny and entertaining that I’ve watched them in the middle of the night a few times when I had too much anxiety and couldn’t sleep. They’re very open, kind, and welcoming to anyone and everyone no matter their race, sexuality, mental health, or anything.

They’re just a group of friends who do what they love for a living and that’s exactly what I’m trying to do – what I am doing.

I can relate to them on so many levels: working from home, doing what I love for a living, my mental health issues, my overall goals for why I do what I do, and more.

I want to inspire people the way they have inspired me. I want to make people laugh. I want to make people feel loved and welcome in this community I’ve been building with my blog (and beyond). I want people to feel safe and comfortable when they read my work or watch my videos (when I get the channel up and running).

I want people to look at me say, “If she can do that, I can do that” just like I’ve done with these YouTubers.

I want to explore the world and before going to Canada I didn’t realize that was a thing I could do. I did it because I wanted to see those YouTubers in person. (And also because Kris was able to pay for me… Thank you, Kris!)

I want to teach myself new things and I have been. I’ve been teaching myself filmmaking and video editing so I can start a YouTube channel for this blog (and also for Double Jump down the road). I’ve been drawing more. I’m not very good, but maybe I’ll get there in time. I want to publish books. I want to create a literary magazine or something similar. I want to create a video game.

That’s not even the half of it. There’s so much I want to do. I want to do it all. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. But the possibilities are endless and my creativity can go as far as my imagination, which, I’ve come to realize, is pretty endless itself.

Canada seemed to be the first step for me. It opened a new world for me and I came to realize I can do more than what I think I can do.

Maybe someday Double Jump will have its own panel at a convention. No, I don’t want to be rich or famous, but I’d like to make an impact on people’s lives. (As well as make a living off it because… bills.)

Maybe someday my creative works – no matter what form, video, blog, writing, etc. – will inspire and help others.

Of course, I can’t give all the credit to those YouTubers and to the fact I went to Canada. I went to Canada and I do what I do because of the choices I’ve made and the way I’ve decided to spend my time.

I do what I do because there are so many people who visit my blog on a daily basis and actually care about what I have to say.

Canada's EGLX | Gaming | Travel | RachelPoli.com

This is a long post, probably the longest I’ve ever written on this blog. If you’ve read this far and you’re still reading, I applaud you. Thank you for reading this through.

I didn’t mean for this to be so long and corny, but it’s the truth and I felt it needed to be said. I had this realization through my trip and breaking out of my comfort zone, but there was also something else that happened to make me realize this.

The other thing that made me realize all this isn’t a happy story like Canada. It’s gotten me down for quite a while now. Though that’s a story for another day.

I’ll say this though: I’m happy where I am in life. I’m happy with the things I’m doing and the things I’m trying to do. My anxiety holds me back sometimes, but I figure it out. I have a good head on my shoulders (I think so, anyway). I have a good support system with friends and family who love and encourage me to do what I do. I’m a pretty lucky person.

But I guess I’ve rambled enough. Thank you for reading. Thanks for listening. Thanks for being here and taking this journey with me.

Have you ever taken a risk in life? Done something you didn’t think you could? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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