I don't get why the anxiety part is treated as some sort of disorder rather than an attitude problem.
Anxiety is neither a disorder nor an attitude problem. It is a mood, and as such is experienced by most people at some point in their lives.
However, unusually high levels of anxiety can be a symptom of one of many different diseases. You are thinking of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which is just one of an entire group of psychiatric disorders that have unusually high levels of anxiety as a symptom.
Anxiety is easily controllable or at the very least, manageable. I'm not trying to boast or belittle other autistic people that can't cope with it, I'm just sincerely curious.
First off, as someone diagnosed with autism, you should be aware that autism is a spectrum disorder. The experiences that you have with autism are specific only to those who fall in the same spot on the spectrum as you.
Secondly, you're engaging in what I like to call "comparative medicine." Basically, since your knowledge of a specific disease or symptom is limited to your own experiences or those of your family/friends, you think that your experience applies to everyone in the world. More often than not, this is dead wrong.
I get this all the time: "Last year I had a sore throat and was given an antibiotic and got better. Now you're telling me it's this virus thing and you won't give me anything for it? Why can't I just have the same antibiotic?" (The patient erroneously believes that this year's sore throat is the exact same as last years, while the doctor knows that sore throats can have many different causes and that antibiotics only help with sore throats caused by bacteria.)
Here is how I read your sentence: "My
anxiety is easily controllable or at the very least, manageable." Good, then your
anxiety probably does not require medical treatment. However, Jane's
anxiety might not be as easily controlled, and thus she
may benefit from medical treatment.
When I get anxious, I get heart palpitations, my asthma acts up, throat starts to clamp up, I literally start to suffocate and its just a general nuisance.
First off, that's not anxiety. That's a panic attack (a.k.a. anxiety attack.)
Secondly, I'm not sure where this double standard for psychiatry comes from:
- "Oh, your atopic dermatitis is itching badly? Here's a cream to help with that."
- "Oh dear, your carpal tunnel syndrome is making it difficult to type at work? You might be a candidate for surgery."
- "Oh no! Your migraine headache is making it difficult for you to concentrate in class? Here, try this anti-migraine pill."
- "Oh no! You had a panic attack in the middle of a business meeting? Well then you'd better suck it up and adjust your attitude!"
Psychiatric disorders are not something to be ashamed of. Treatment is not a sign of failure. Treatment is not a sign of weakness. Treatment is not a last resort. Treatment is treatment.
This reminds me of a Jehovah's Witness who was telling me about a woman who boldly refused a blood transfusion, despite having dangerously low blood counts and unstable vital signs (that's bad.) She spent several days in the ICU with her family praying over her until she made a full recovery without a transfusion! Victory for the JWs!
My first thought was that I'd have just gotten the transfusion early on and skipped the whole part about almost dying, spending several days in the ICU (which costs loads of money and takes away a bed), and risking severe complications later on. What that JW saw as a triumph, I saw as a failure. Because, see, when the treatment is evil, then refusing the treatment and pulling through in spite of it is a victory. But when the treatment is just a treatment, there's no glory in avoiding it for the sake of avoiding it.
We, as a species, need to get out of this mindset that treating mental illness is a bad thing.
What kind of thought process do these guys go through? Do they like their current situation but want to change for convenience? Do they hate their situation and want to change but can't?
It's my experience that most people who seek treatment for a disease do not like that disease; otherwise, why would they want to treat it? "Hey doc, I really like this anxiety. Can you take it away?"
What you have to remember is that with many psychiatric disorders based on moods (such as mood disorders or anxiety disorders), the problem isn't the mood itself. For instance, most people experience the mood depression, but not everyone has Major Depressive Disorder. That's because normally the body regulates moods: you feel depressed for a day or two, then your body adjusts and you feel ok again. The disorder comes in when the body can no longer compensate: you have a depressed mood that does not go away, nothing makes it better, and it seems to be getting worse. Or you have this anxiety that keeps getting triggered, you don't know why, and you rarely (if ever) return to feeling "ok."
I think the problem many people have with psychiatric disorders (particularly mood disorders) is that they don't have the disorder.
When they get depressed, they are
able to cope with it, because they don't have Major Depressive Disorder.
They can't understand why a person who is sick
cannot respond the same way as people who are not sick.
So here's a project:
- The next time you have a single loose bowel movement in a day, write a detailed journal entry about your experience and how you coped with it.
- Then, the next time you get a stomach flu, write a detailed journal energy about your bowel movements (ignore the vomiting if you can) and how you're coping with it.
- Compare the two entries.
I think you'll find that there's a huge difference between the normal variation of human experience and disease.