Every once in awhile, even a tech blogger needs to open up about his or her personal life. After submitting my recent article Retro Apple: iPod – A Comprehensive Look From Then Until Now to my editor Mark Chaffee, I mentioned that writing that post brought back some not-so-pleasant memories along with the good ones. Mark asked that I share my experience in hopes that perhaps I can help someone else with GAD or another mental health disorder.
GAD stands for **Generalized Anxiety Disorder**. To quote Wikipedia:
Everyone gets anxious from time to time, and 2020 has certainly had its share of anxiety-inducing events. In my case, anxiety defined my life from childhood into adulthood. I masked my fears with a positive outlook and cheerfulness, but I always had a very dark cloud hanging over my head.
What does this have to do with an iPod? In the early 2000s, I was employed as a Project Manager for IBM on one of their Global Services accounts. Project management can be quite stressful in the best of times, but the projects I was assigned to exacerbated my GAD symptoms to the point that I had a constant feeling of dread, and I was severely depressed and almost unable to do my job. To top things off, I had to travel frequently to an office in Minneapolis and had a very irrational fear of flying that was starting to cause full-blown panic attacks.
Through my employer, I was able to get into therapy and was taught some relaxation techniques to help me cope. One of those techniques involved listening to music while controlling my breathing; I created an iPod playlist that I would start once the door was closed on the airplane and lasted throughout the flight. That playlist and the relaxation ritual helped me to survive the repeated flights without panic attacks.
By late 2004, it became apparent that I needed to remove the major stressor — my job — from my life, and that therapy wasn’t helping. Two changes have helped make the past 16 years the happiest and most productive of my life; taking a small daily dose of a prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) called Citalopram, and having more control over my life by working for myself.
I want to end this article with a public service announcement: if you have had a number of the symptoms listed on the Wikipedia page linked above for more than six months, see your doctor. If you have had a parent or sibling diagnosed with GAD, you’re more likely to be afflicted as well. Millions of Americans live with temporary or permanent mental health issues like GAD, and you can get help.
For me, being diagnosed and treated for GAD was a positive life change. I still love listening to music (on my iPhone), and every time I look at my old 4th-generation iPod, I’m reminded of how it helped me survive a very rough time in my life.