Living with anxiety is not an easy task. As someone who has struggled with anxiety myself, I know first hand how hard this mental illness can be when it comes to friendships, relationships with family members, and even romantic relationships.
There are so many different kinds of anxiety that it's hard to speak about it so generally. There's social anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorders, and many more that affect a lot of people that are close to you in your life, probably more than you might think.
People suffering from anxiety disorders all have one thing in common, the inability to put what we're feeling into words. This can be hard for the people closest to us, who love us and want nothing more than to understand how we're feeling, but we just can't explain it to them.
It comes from a fear of being misunderstood and judged that makes our feelings so difficult to vocalize. But in the next few pages you can begin to understand how we're feeling on the inside, how we're feeling on the outside, what happens when we make plans with you, how we feel during panic attacks, and what we're going through in public places.
If you live with anxiety or someone close to you does, I hope this article can give you some reassurance that you're not alone and give you a deeper understanding into the mind of someone living with an anxiety disorder.
For How We Feel On The Inside, Click "NEXT"
Even when things are going well, we're still waiting for something to go horribly wrong.
When we're being really quiet we're not bored, tired or sad, there's just so much going on in our minds that we can't keep up with everything that's going on around us at the same time.
Sometimes when we're feeling really anxious we don't even know why it's happening. Don't take it personally when we can't explain how we're feeling to you, we don't even understand ourselves.
Having generalized anxiety feels like you're drowning all the time. Doing everyday mundane things in life just makes this feeling worse. If we have a hard time making plans or following through just understand that we're just feeling overwhelmed.
Our anxiety doesn't always have a 'look'. We don't have to be crying and trembling to feel anxious.
We are constantly analyzing things. Turning off our brains is literally impossible and this can be really exhausting.
It may seem irrational to you but just know that what we're feeling is real to us.
Anxiety can sometimes come out of nowhere. We can be fine one minute and then all of a sudden it hits us like a ton of bricks.
For How We Feel On The Outside, Click "NEXT"
High levels of anxiety can cause tons of stomach problems. This can include cramps, abdominal pain and even nausea. There's no real way to fix these issues when they hit us.
At night anxiety can get really bad. It can cause serious heart palpitations which can keep us awake all night long.
Anxiety and panic attacks can cause a lot of muscle stiffness. This stiffness can appear in your lower back, neck or shoulders.
Anxiety attacks can cause a lump in your throat where you feel like you can't swallow or breathe properly.
Sometimes anxiety can cause us to grit our teeth subconsciously. We don't even realize we're doing it until our jaw starts to ache.
Anxiety can cause your body temperature to raise significantly. This can cause over heating and feeling sweaty.
Anxiety can cause terrifying and very vivid nightmares that wake you up from sleeping.
Massive migraines and headaches can come on suddenly. They can sometimes last for hours or even days and it makes it hard to focus on anything else.
For Making Plans With You, Click "NEXT"
When we cancel plans with you it's not because we don't want to see you, it's because we're feeling overwhelmed and just can't leave the house.
When we isolate ourselves, we don't need you to fix us. We just need to know that you're there and that you care about us. That's why reaching out to us is so important.
Anxiety might stop us from doing certain things that we desperately want to do like going out for dinner with you, hanging out in crowded bars or even just talking on the phone. But please don't shut us out because of this. It makes our day to be asked to join your plans even if we know we can't.
If we're not comfortable doing something, it doesn't help if you try to convince us. Understand that we have our limits because of anxiety and you pushing us just makes us feel guilty of this.
When we say we can't meet up or have to cancel plans, know that no one is more disappointed than us.
Our comfort place is our home. When we're feeling really anxious we only really feel comfortable at home so don't take it personally when we don't want to go out.
Some people with anxiety have no problem going out and spending time with our friends. But we want our friends to know that it's sometimes hard for us to loosen up fully. Know that we're having a good time and that we want to be there even though we don't show it the same way you do.
When we go out don't take offence if we're being quiet or not as talkative as usual. Our mind is hyper aware of everything we say and we're afraid of saying the wrong thing.
For Having Panic Attacks, Click "NEXT"
It's not usually one thing that causes a panic attack. It's a bunch of things and thoughts that end up snowballing and we can't stop it.
We don't always need you to help us talk through it. Sometimes just someone sitting beside us, holding our hands will do wonders.
Telling us to calm down or that we're overreacting isn't going to help. We know the way we're thinking is irrational right now, we just need you to understand that we're doing our best to get through it.
Panic attacks are extremely tiring and drains all of our energy. It takes everything we have to get through it so after we do we have nothing left.
The best thing to do when your friend/family member/S.O is having a panic attack is to tell them that you're there for them. Telling them to breathe, relax and to just stop thinking about it isn't going to help.
A common and scary symptom of panic attacks is the feeling that nothing around you is familiar, even if you're sitting in your own bedroom. It feels like you don't belong there and it can be really terrifying.
When we're alone having a panic attack our first thought is to text everyone close to us, but we never do it. We think we'll only bother you, you deserve so much better than us and that you have better things to do than to help us all the time.
During a panic attack our bodies react in weird ways. We can feel like we're going to pass out, throw up or that we can't control our own limbs. It can be really scary in these moments.
For Being Out In Public, Click "NEXT"
When out at a restaurant we're probably rehearsing our order a bunch of time to make sure we have it just right for when the waiter comes over.
There's a constant fear that strangers are looking at us and judging us. Whether it's the way we're walking, talking or just how we look in general.
When we're out we're constantly thinking about what we're saying. We're afraid to share our opinions because it's better to stay quiet and be agreeable than to have someone disagree with us.
We're going to replay the entire conversation we had in our heads later that night and analyze every single thing we said. We'll realize that we said all the wrong things and beat ourselves up over it.
A lot of people with anxiety have mastered the art of wearing a mask out in public. They know how to act like they're having a good time when just under the surface is the panic and anxiety of being around others.
Even if someone seems really outgoing and talkative, they're most likely trying to cover up how uncomfortable they feel in a social situation.
When in public we have to hide how anxious we're feeling so it usually comes out in small things like fidgeting with our clothes, picking our fingers, running our hands through our hair and not making eye contact.
We're hyper aware of everything you're saying, the tone of your voice and your body language when you talk to us. We want to make sure we're not putting you off by what we're saying and that you're not hating the conversation.