Welcome to The Worry Games.
My name is Lisa Branson, and I am a 47 year-old mom of 5 living in the midwest.
My anxiety disorder first erupted when I was about 25, after my children’s father had a heart attack at the age of 35. Two days after his heart attack, I was driving home from the hospital and I had my first panic attack.
It was my FIRST panic attack, and by far the WORST panic attack of my life. I was overcome with fear and terror, and had the sensation that something horrible was going on, but I had no clue what it was. I went straight to the doctor where I was treated as if I was on drugs, and told that I just needed to go home and “calm down”. I thought “No way. No WAY is this stress-related. Whatever this is, it’s really bad.”
And the moment that panic attack began, so began the worst period of my life. General Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder pretty much took over my life. It was a time filled with anxiety, terror, uncertainty, confusion, and exhaustion. This continued off and on for the next 2-3 years with new symptoms popping up every time I would get the previous symptoms under control until eventually I got to the root of the issue, thanks to my recovery steps, and the symptoms gradually disappeared for the most part.
After I got my GAD and Panic Disorder under control, I then developed a severe case of OCD which still affects my day-to-day life, although to a much smaller degree. My symptoms center around “checking” things and the safety of my kids. Looking back over my life, I think I have always had OCD issues, but after I lost twin boys when I was three months pregnant in 2009, my symptoms really kicked into high gear.
I have had pretty much every anxiety symptom there is:
Health fears, intrusive thoughts, panic attacks, insomnia, social anxiety, palpitations, fear of driving, fear of leaving my house, fear of the death of my loved ones, depersonalization, fear of going crazy, obsessive checking, etc., etc.
I have had anxiety about having anxiety. I have had anxiety about the times when I did NOT feel anxiety. I have had fears of choking. I have had fears of forgetting how to breathe. I have had days where I was so filled with worry that I was literally sick to my stomach. I have had pregnancy related anxiety. I have had post partum anxiety so bad that I have been unable to sleep for days at a time out of fear my baby would die of SIDS.
I have been there, done that with all of it….. and there was a time when I would have been horrified at the thought of telling the world about my problems. It was a “secret” for years….but those days are long over. I know who I am and I and no longer care about people’s perception of me. I am a proud, card-carrying, lifetime member of the “Anxiety Club”, and I feel super lucky for that and I would gladly slap my face on a million posters if I thought my story and experience would help people recover.
Anxiety will always be a part of my life, but it no longer controls me because I know it like the back of my hand. I have figured it out. I know what it is, why it’s there and what my current anxiety level means about the state of my life at that time.
Anxiety is my guide……I NEED it in my life and if I had the choice to have it taken away forever, I wouldn’t do it.
I have learned that it is a good thing…a product of my own personality….and that instead of fighting it, I need to LISTEN TO IT and figure out what it is really trying to tell me.
I have learned to control it, I have learned how to live with it, and there is absolutely not one single thing that anybody could tell me about their anxiety symptoms that I would find shocking or surprising.
Helping people with their anxiety disorder is my passion. I think I “get” anxiety in a way that a lot of people don’t and I feel so lucky for that and I want to use that understanding to help improve people’s lives.
It is my mission in life to bust the “anxiety myth” and show the world that anxiety is not an illness.
I don’t even really like the word “disorder” although I use that word for lack of a better one. But it is a thinking disorder at best….not a mental illness. Chronic anxiety, in most cases, is just untreated stress that is exacerbated by a person’s own personality traits and tendency to easily form habits.
It is, in most cases, very manageable and very easily understood if it is explained in the right way. And I hope that is what I can do for you….explain anxiety in a way that helps you finally understand why it is there in the first place.
Once you understand that….its all downhill from there.
My life has not been easy. But “easy” doesn’t build character and “easy” doesn’t build strength and if people can know only one thing about me, I want them to know that I have used every horrible thing that has happened to me in my life to make myself a stronger, better person. It is a wonderful feeling to look back over my life and not be able to think of one negative event that has not taught me something valuable.
Anxiety didn’t ruin my life….it only made it better. And I want to show you how to make it work for you, as well. I want you to be a PROUD person with anxiety and embrace your uniqueness and “quirks” just as I do. It takes some pretty special personality traits to create an anxiety disorder and you were lucky enough to be born with a lot of them and that is something to celebrate!
There are no great secrets to anxiety recovery. Its all about just stepping back and looking at it from a different angle. I am a woman who wanted recovery more than anything else in this entire world, and I knew that the only way to make that happen was to turn what was the worst thing that ever happened to me, into something positive. And that is what I did, and there isn’t one of you out there who can’t make the same choice.
If you would like personalized email support for the anxiety issues you are currently struggling with, visit my “Contact Me” page in the main menu for information.
Photo Credit: Amy Davis, Everyday Inspiration Photography