High-functioning anxiety is its own secret. Most people have no idea you are facing this battle every single day.
Anxiety can affect different people in different ways at different times. For some people, anxiety can be so crippling that they can barely leave their house. But others have found ways to cope with it. Some have developed habits that allow them to be contributing members of society, even though on the inside they are wrapped in stress and self-doubt. These are common habits of a person living with high-functioning anxiety.
Anxiety. If you have high-functioning anxiety, a lot of the times people won’t notice. They may chalk your weird habits up to Zooey Deschanel-type quirkiness and leave it at that. That’s mostly because your face is telling them a different story.
Anxiety. Even when your heart is beating a million miles an hour, your face looks calm. Someone added one more task to your already seemingly insurmountable list of duties, and you smile and say, “Ok.” You keep the feelings on the inside, and you may want to crawl under a table and hyperventilate, but instead you just feel it and try not let it consume you.
Anxiety. It’s always there. It’s not called high-functioning because it disappears during the day and you get to be a carefree human for 12 hours until it returns at midnight. It’s not a curse from a fairytale.
Anxiety. It’s always manifesting itself in different ways, and your feeling of uneasiness is constant. It’s panic. It’s stress. It’s worry. It’s shaking. It’s nausea. It’s headaches. It’s consuming, but you still find ways to work through it. Every day is a battle between you and your head.
Irish exit. You may be the first one to leave a gathering. You want to have fun and be around friends because sometimes it does distract and relax you. Until it doesn’t.
Irish exit. Then, the event can become stressful, and you are prone to leave without reason, and even sometimes without warning a la an Irish exit. Your friends have probably just come to accept it as your thing.
Busy. Even though it would be in your best interest to slow down, you do the opposite. You take on more work because you think staying busy distracts you and you don’t want to let people down. Even if it’s not work-related, you will find some distraction to keep your mind preoccupied. You cannot be alone with your thoughts too long.
Pleaser. You want to make everyone happy. So you work extra hard to make everyone around you happier and to make your friends and family proud of you. However, no matter how many accomplishments you have, you can never truly please yourself.
No mistakes. You are hard on yourself, even harder than most people. You beat yourself up over all your mistakes, even the tiniest ones. You don’t know how to comfort yourself or remind yourself that mistakes are human and things will be ok. Instead, your brain reprimands you on a consistent and daily basis.
Perfectionist. You are constantly aiming for success and an unattainable perfection. Again, this is part of your desire to please those around you, but it’s a vicious cycle when you strive for perfection but also won’t let yourself accept your accomplishments.
Bad habits. You have probably developed bad habits that help you cope. You may bite your nails or pick at your skin. You may pull on your hair or pluck at your eyebrows. You may stretch or try deep breaths. You may even Google things to help with anxiety, willing to try absolutely anything to make the worry stop or at least subside.
Little things. You are more prone to procrastination because even the smallest of tasks feels monumental at times. This can be especially true when it comes to interactions: sending emails, making phone calls, or responding to text messages. Anxiety can hit with the smallest of things; you can become scared to death of something as simple as running an errand, and no one understands.
Isolating. You sometimes feel isolated from others due to your fears. Your friends don’t understand why normal things are hard for you, or why you leave parties early, or why you can’t take a compliment. Because of this, your feelings are largely kept inside and fester. This can lead to an inner loneliness.
Worst critic. You are your own worst critic. You give yourself the hard critiques, even when you hear praise. You are constantly unhappy with yourself: your choices, your work, and your overall direction in life.
Thoughts. These thoughts of self-inadequacy and stress are all in your head. On the outside, to a perfect stranger, your colleagues, and maybe even your friends and family, your life may seem together. However, no matter how great your life looks to others, you are constantly afraid of what you could lose, and you are never able to truly enjoy what you have.