Reading this will help you to realize that you are not alone.
I know I am not alone — 18% of adults suffer from some form of anxiety. You may appear calm on the surface, but underneath it all, you are wondering how you can be better. You get really good at picking yourself apart, and you use those thoughts to propel you forward. You appear productive and motivated, but you are also exhausted. It feels good, and it feels bad.
When you have high-functioning anxiety, your nervous energy either paralyzes you, or springs you into action, and when it does, damn, you know how to get stuff done. People think you have it together, but the reality is it hurts too much to be still, so you keep moving. Relaxation is not something you are familiar with.
It is difficult for others to comprehend, and even more confusing to try and explain to the people around you. If someone hasn’t been through it, they usually can’t understand.
1. “What did I do wrong?”
There is always an underlying feeling that someone is upset with you, or displeased with something you did. The constant analysis of your every move in order to keep others happy isn’t just exhausting- it’s soul-sucking.
2. When someone sends “K” in a text message, or reads the message but doesn’t reply.
The mind goes into overdrive when this happens. “Is everything okay?” “Was it something I said?” “Are you mad at me?” Our thoughts turn into questions that have us worrying over every possible scenario.
3. Saying something that could offend someone.
“Did I say that the wrong way? Did trying so hard not to offend that person actually make it more offensive?”
4. Getting stuck on public transportation.
“When a subway train is stuck, or stalled, and I don’t have information about why, I get a bit freaked out and contemplate taking a taxi even if I know it’ll cost way too much and take the same time. This is because at least I’m able to see what is holding me up and feel like I have some control of my surroundings.”
5. Arriving somewhere late (or on time, for that matter).
“What time do I have to leave work to get to where I’m going? What is traffic going to look like? Will parking be hard?”
6. Fearing something could go wrong.
“I am in constant fear of what’s going to happen if and when something happens to my husband! I fear I will end up homeless. I have no friends or family to turn to.”
7. Forgetting to do something important.
“On good days I can leave the house without having to check the lock three times or making sure the fridge is closed several times. On good days I can control my thoughts and nothing comes through my mind. On bad days I can’t stop the what ifs.”
8. Not being able to control what’s happening now or in the future.
“Every minute of every day worrying about something that is currently happening, something that happened recently, or something that might happen in the next few moments, later today or in the future.”
9. Making a mistake at work that will result in someone judging you.
“I had a typo in the last email and I hit reply all — now everyone thinks I’m incompetent or don’t know the difference between ‘their’ and ‘there.'”
10. Looking stupid in a social setting.
“Are they laughing at me? I hope I don’t mess this up. I hope I don’t say the wrong thing. Was that supposed to be funny? Was I NOT supposed to laugh? Can I leave yet?”
So, what can you do when you have these thoughts creep up on you? Well, everyone is different, so what works for one person might not work for you. However, one thing that certainly helps is knowing this:
Everyone is dealing with their own issues, and is worrying too much about themselves to be worrying about you. So as simple as it sounds, relax and don’t stress about what other people are thinking, or how they might react, or the countless ‘what-ifs,’ because everyone else is busy with their own lives.
Now, go live yours.