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How an iPod saved my life



Every once in a while, even a technical blogger needs to open up to his or her personal life. After submitting my recent article Retro Apple: iPod – A Comprehensive Look From Then to Now to 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 the hope that I might be able to help someone else GAD or another mental illness.

GAD stands for ** Generalized Anxiety Disorder **. To cite Wikipedia:

“GAD is an anxiety disorder characterized by excessive, uncontrollable and often irrational worry about events or activities. This excessive worry often disrupts daily functioning, and those who suffer are overly concerned about everyday matters such as health problems, money, death, family problems, friendship problems, interpersonal relationship problems or work difficulties. Symptoms may include excessive worrying, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, irritability, sweating and trembling. ”

Everyone gets anxious from time to time, and 2020 has certainly had its share of anxiety-provoking events. In my case, anxiety defined my life from childhood to 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 hired as a project manager for IBM in one of their Global Services accounts. Project management can be quite stressful in the best of times, but the projects I was assigned worsened my GAD symptoms to the point that I had a constant feeling of fear, and I was severely depressed and almost unable to do my job. To make matters worse, I often had to travel to an office in Minneapolis and had a very irrational fear of flying that began 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 these techniques involved listening to music while controlling my breathing; I created an iPod playlist that I would start when the door on the plane was closed and lasted the entire plane. That playlist and relaxation ritual helped me survive the repeated flights without panic attacks.

By the end of 2004, it became clear that I needed to remove the most important stressor ̵

1; my job – from my life, and that therapy did not help. Two changes have helped make the last 16 years the happiest and most productive of my life; take a small daily dose of a prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) called Citalopram, and have more control over my life by working for myself.

I would like to end this article with a public announcement: If you have had a number of 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 are more likely to be affected as well. Millions of Americans live with temporary or permanent mental health problems 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 the iPhone), and every time I look at my old 4th generation iPod, I am reminded of how it helped me survive a very tough time in my life.


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