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How Generalized Anxiety Disorder Is Almost Like Being 'Psychic'

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You can call me a Cynical Cindy, a Negative Nancy, a Debbie Downer, a Pessimistic Patty or a Gloomy Gloria, but I usually refer to it as my generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). It means I often have a horrible gut feeling that something bad is going to happen, but I don’t know what, or when, or why. Ironically, it always seems to get worse when things are going well, probably because when something does go wrong, I can actually relax and be smug in my confirmation bias, telling myself “I told you so!”

It’s almost like I’m psychic, except my “premonitions” are incredibly vague and could be based on fact, or seemingly nothing at all. Will I lose my job tomorrow? My relationship? My loved ones? My mind? My life? Who knows! It’s one giant, terrifying mystery that literally keeps me up at night. I worry about what’s going to happen 10 years from now as much as I worry about what’s going to happen tomorrow, and not only do I have severe anxiety about the future, I also obsess about the past. Anything remotely embarrassing that has happened to me in the last 30 years will be on replay in my head at the most inconvenient times. I jump between living in the past and the future and completely ignore what’s going on in the present (unless it’s bad, of course; then I’m thinking about ways it could get worse).

If that’s not bad enough, I also have wickedly awful intrusive thoughts that accompany my worries. For someone who isn’t actively suicidal, I think about my death a lot for absolutely no reason. I have always been this way. When I was a child, I remember running to my mother when I was supposed to be asleep, freaking out about how I was going to die. Not the way I was going to die, mind you; just the sheer fact that it was going to happen. How can you live a carefree childhood when you’re seriously concerned about something that’s (probably) decades away?

Spoiler alert: I didn’t.

My mind will generously show me vivid scenarios where my boyfriend is cheating on me, or where my friends are talking about me behind my back, or where I get fired, or where my loved ones are murdered, or where I accidentally drive my car off a bridge. I can usually shake these horrible thoughts if I’m occupied, but if I’m left alone with nothing but my brain to listen to, the sick feeling in my stomach gets unbearable and it’s a lot harder to brush off bad thoughts when they’re manifesting physically, too.

On the outside, I seem fairly easygoing. I don’t look like the anxious ball of frazzled nerves that I am internally. Surprisingly enough, I’m also not particularly negative, because I rationally know I have a legitimate illness that is the cause of my anxiety, and the things my mind conjures up as a result of it are not based in reality. Everyone gets anxious or nervous sometimes, but it’s hard to explain just how much my anxiety disorder dominates my life. All I can do is try my best to utilize the skills I’ve learned in therapy and remind myself that even though bad things may happen, I am mentally strong enough to get through anything.

Photo by Danny on Reshot

Originally published: March 9, 2019
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