High functioning anxiety is not actually a recognised diagnosis, however many people suffering with anxiety will connect with the term. It refers to people who have anxiety, but outwardly seem to have everything together, in other words they function ‘normally’. If you have high functioning anxiety, you’ll find that your anxiety pushes you forward rather than pulling you back, and, in certain situations can be helpful. However that doesn’t mean it isn’t extremely debilitating.
Having high functioning anxiety myself has lead me to experience lot of awkward circumstances, where people just haven’t understood where I’m coming from. It seems to me it isn’t something that people aren’t aware of, so Psych2Go shares with you 5 facts you need to know about high functioning anxiety:
1) It’s not easy to see.
Someone who suffers with high functioning anxiety will appear to be a very successful individual. Your work is always delivered on time, you arrive places early with a great parking spot, you’re immaculately dressed and always seem to be on the go. However what people can’t see is the crippling anxiousness and fear inside you that helps to create this aura of success. Your anxiety makes you efficient. The same way someone might feel anxiety over speaking up in a meeting, you’ll feel anxious over handing work in late. Nobody would think that anything is wrong because you’re performing to your best.
2) It can causes intense stress.
Often with high functioning anxiety, you will feel stressed when there’s no reason to be. For example your boss might ask for a task to be complete by next week, and on the outside you’ll be calm and collect but already your brain is in overdrive and into a spiral of negative thoughts about time management. Then when you’ve finished and handed in your work you’ll be worrying if it’s good enough and if you were the right fit for the job. And then because you did an excellent job your boss will assign you more tasks and the cycle will begin again. Feeling stress in every aspect of your life is incredibly debilitating, especially if it’s over something that sound bring happiness.
3) The inability to say no.
As previously mentioned, high functioning anxiety can cause you to feel intense worry over being asked to do something. Which could be solved by taking on less, however saying ‘no’ just isn’t something you can handle. People with high functioning anxiety tend to have impossibly high, self-imposed standards, which leads you to taking on more than you can possibly handle. You never say no to work projects, social plans or helping out a friend, despite being stretched to breaking point. The dread of letting people down is too much for you and you’d rather be stressed than say no.
4) Difficulty asking for help.
If you are suffering with high functioning anxiety you might find it hard to ask for help. One of the main reasons could be because you don’t think there’s anything wrong. As mentioned earlier, HFA doesn’t stop people from achieving success, it can actually be a big contributing factor to them climbing the ladder. Thus you perceive everything is fine, you’re doing well at work, your life is organised and controlled and nothing is glaringly ‘abnormal’. However the internal struggle and stress you feel day to day is something you might need help with, and there isn’t anything wrong with just having a chat with a friend or loved one about the way you’re feeling. It might feel good to get some stress of your chest.
5) It’s very controlling.
HFA can control many aspects of your life without you knowing it. It can cause you to create a strict routine for yourself which you never deviate from. This could really impact your social life and how much fun you’re having. The controlling habits and strict routines may make you feel like you’re more in charge of your life, but missing a single workout or using the wrong colour highlighter can send you spiralling. Gently breaking these routines might break the hold your anxiety has over you and could alleviate some of your stress.
High functioning anxiety can be really difficult to live with and if you think you could be suffering it’s best to talk to someone and get help.