Many people think that separation anxiety only occurs in children. Although, it seems to be more common for children, it can occur at any age. Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder (ASAD) has only been recognized as a mental health disorder since the early 1990’s. There’s not much research or awareness on it; but it exists.
When my best friend moved away, I knew I would be sad but I never thought my anxiety would get bad because I was separated from her. I never thought that the hardship of her being away would be because of anything but simply missing her. When I started to feel physical sickness or ache, that’s when I realized I didn’t just miss her – I was having anxiety due to being separated from her.
I did some googling on ASAD but there was next to no expert research on it. Other people have written blog posts about dealing with this and it made me feel less alone and less crazy, so I wanted to share my experience as well.
Symptoms that I struggle with:
- recurrent excessive distress when unable to contact my friend.
- Excessive distress when haven’t video chatted with her for awhile.
- persistent and excessive worry about losing her, or about possible harm happening to her.
- persistent and excessive worry that something will cause us to unintentionally not talk/fear of being forgotten, or drifting away.
- excessive worry that I won’t see her again.
- nightmares involving the separation, or something bad happening towards her.
- panic when I remember how far away she is at certain times, or when I remember how long it’s been since I’ve seen her.
- physical symptoms (such as headaches, stomachaches, nausea) due to the above.
This causes me to act in certain ways – I text her repeatedly until she replies because I can’t settle until I hear back from her. I have paranoia. I overreact quickly. I’m needy. I always need reassurance. I feel the need to contact her in certain situations, especially when generalized anxiety can lead to ASAD, even though the friends who are with me are perfectly capable of helping. I’ve been told I was obsessed by a counsellor, in a rude way, which must be saying something about my actions.
But still, the word “obsessed” really hurt because that’s not what this is. I felt really judged. I’m sure many people see it as being obsessive too. But it’s just anxiety – a specific type of anxiety. I can’t control it or “just stop having it”. It is a real struggle. It is just like my depression or generalized anxiety. There are moments where I feel really anxious, and there are things that make me feel better or worse. Just like any other mental health disorder.
Luckily, my friend is very supportive about this. She never judges me. She reassures me. We talk everyday. She understands that I get anxious sometimes. My little precautions don’t bother her. We video chat whenever we can. We make plans so I have something to look forward too. She just gets it. She gets that it’s not a choice. She gets that I’m not acting the way I do sometimes on purpose.
I went to visit her about a month ago. Since then, my anxiety has gotten so much better. Before the visit, I remember having anxiety due to the separation every single day, and having huge anxiety attacks/sickness a few times a week. Now, it has really died down. My anxiety is mostly situational and I rarely have anxiety attacks/sickness any more. Although I have days where this anxiety gets bad, I feel that I am getting better at dealing with it. I still miss her like crazy and wish she was here but I’m happy its died down.
As I said at the beginning, I wanted to write this for awareness. This exists. And I’m not crazy.
Stay strong lovelies <3