The Truth of Anxiety


The best antidote to anxiety is confidence. Having suffered from severe GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder) for most of my life, I have finally begun to understand it. Anxiety comes from fear. In my case it’s a fear of rejection, of being judged, of disapproval, of making a mistake, and of being misunderstood. Even after all these years I harbor theses fears, and it’s a matter of a lack of basic self-esteem and self-confidence. What I need to do is care less about what others think of me and be less expectant of others and myself. And, to do that, I have to dispel all thoughts that question my worth. I need to feel powerful and in control of my environment. I need to be strong and confident. And I need to act that way to reinforce those perceptions of myself by both others and me.

It’s really a matter of being positive – about me and my life. As soon as thoughts of self-doubt or self-denigration enter my head I need to dismiss them. And I need to constantly re-assure myself that I am both fortunate and willing.

Mental illness genes are genetic and passed from generation to generation. But those genes simply make us vulnerable to these illnesses. It takes social and/or environmental factors to trigger the symptoms. My exaggerated fear of rejection comes from my childhood. When I was five years old I was diagnosed with “nerves” and put on to Mylanta. It went undiagnosed for almost 55 years, at which time it was deemed to be severe GAD. It was only then that more appropriate medication was introduced. In the meantime I had numerous episodes of panic, social dysfunction, and failed relationships.

Most people feel anxious and worried from time to time when faced with certain situations such as taking an exam, speaking in public or going for a job interview. At times, a certain level of anxiety can help people feel alert and focused. People with GAD, however, feel anxious and worried most of the time, not just in times of exceptional stress, and these worries interfere with their normal lives. Their worries may relate to any aspect of everyday life, including work, health, family and/or financial issues, even if there's no real reason to worry about them. Even minor matters, such as household chores, can become the focus of anxiety and lead to uncontrollable worries and a feeling that something terrible will happen. Despite some symptoms typically presenting in childhood, the disorder appears to develop more fully in adolescence.
Some research suggests that people with certain personality traits are more likely to have anxiety. For example, children who are perfectionists, easily flustered, lack self-esteem or want to control everything, sometimes develop anxiety during childhood or as adults. I grew up burdened with perfectionism and a severe lack of self-esteem.

While the drugs and counselling have helped, it is still very much a problem in my life. It is something I battle each day. Thus the need for vigilance and constant struggle to reach a degree of self-confidence that will allow me to be the person I seek. Interestingly, my sister has been forced into early retirement due to depression. And both her children have mental health problems. My mother is afraid to take any responsibility.

Severe anxiety often leads to heart problems, as it has in my case. My cardiomyopathy has been checked and my heart has fought back to be strong due to me being able to retire, along with the very special counselling of Pam Gammie and some new forms of medication. I have also been greatly assisted by my determination not to give in to it, something that I was ready to do earlier this year.

Heavy or long-term use of substances such as alcohol to temporarily “treat” the anxiety is very common. Unfortunately, it makes the condition even worse of a number of years.

Eat more: Lean chicken, turkey, beef, brown rice, fish, milk, eggs, cheese, nuts, bananas, peas, pumpkin, potato, corn and spinach.

Geoff Mooney