Editor's Letter: Riding the roller coaster of anxiety

2013-08-21T09:23:00Z Editor's Letter: Riding the roller coaster of anxietyKathleen Dorsey nwitimes.com
August 21, 2013 9:23 am  • 

I’ve had anxiety for as long as I can remember. It’s been like living on a roller coaster – one minute everything is fine, and the next minute the bottom drops out and you’re in a total free fall of panic and self-doubt.

It was particularly bad as an adolescent and young adult. In fact, my friends and I used to play a game – give Katie a scenario, any scenario, and she will find a way to turn it into the literal end of the world.

But it wasn’t a game, it was life in my head, all the time.

In some ways, it got better as I got older. I learned to be more rational in order to stop overreacting.

But in some ways, it got worse. As an adult, I have a job, bills, and rent. I have a marriage and relationships that I cannot afford to implode by being careless with my emotions.

And because of this, it is very easy for me to spiral into a quivering mass of nerves.

Not so long ago, if I received an email at work reminding me of something I had forgotten to do, you might find me five minutes later tearing up in the bathroom or fighting the urge to hide under my desk.

It was at this point that I realized I needed help. I’d put it off for 22 years – it was past time I went to see a doctor.

When I got there, she told me I was on the edge of a potential crisis, and had been for some time. She prescribed me some medication and offered me someone to talk to.

I saw an immediate difference. Suddenly, after a lifetime of feeling like a crazy person, I was sane. Not quite serene, but not in constant panic. It was a revelation. I’d never felt this normal, or this healthy.

As I’ve discovered, although medication gives you that crucial first step, mental health requires maintenance. Whether you choose to do some mental exercises, meditation, yoga or something similar, you can boost your mental health through your own actions, not only through professional treatment.

In one of our spotlights this issue, chronic anxiety is discussed in detail, with expert opinions on what you can do to help your brain recover.

When it comes to physical issues, we have the latest on advances for cancer prevention and treatment, particularly cancers that effect women in particular.

We also have some new information on hormone therapy, and how it can improve several different common conditions.

Finally, heart disease and anemia are very scary issues to face, but luckily, doctors suggest several ways you can reduce your risk by improving your lifestyle.

So always remember, that although your health and life in general may seem beyond your control, being healthy and staying healthy is a team effort – you, your brain, your body and your health care.

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