It is estimated that approximately 40 million American adults between the ages of 18 and 54 are affected by an anxiety disorder. While topics such as mental health and anxiety are beginning to be talked about more openly in our society, a high degree of stigma still exists.
The combination of fighting this stigma and the difficulties in putting their feelings and experiences into words makes it incredibly difficult for those who suffer from anxiety to share with their family and friends.
Here are 14 realities that only people living with anxiety will understand:
#1 – Always Guilty
While most people struggle to accept responsibility for their actions, those who suffer from anxiety have the exact opposite problem. Instead, they blame everything that has gone wrong, is going wrong and could possibly go wrong on themselves, living in a state of constant guilt.
#2 – Mental Exhaustion
Those who suffer from anxiety spend every second of every day questioning each move and decision that they make. This is incredibly exhausting, enough so that even a good night’s sleep isn’t going to provide them with the rest that they require.
#3 – They Over Analyze Every Conversation
If you are engaged in a conversation with someone who is suffering from anxiety, rest assured that they are taking the time to over-analyze and carefully assess every word you say. They will carefully attempt to understand every word choice and the meaning behind each chosen phrase out of concern that they may be missing important information.
#4 – Social Media Can Be Overwhelming
It’s not that there is too much happening necessarily, however, social media presents those who suffer from anxiety with some of their biggest fears. For example, posting on Facebook can bring stress as they worry that they will not receive any comments or likes, revealing that people really don’t like them or have no interest in them.
#5 – Comparing and Evaluating
Perpetually concerned with how they stack up to the people around them, those who live with anxiety are always comparing themselves to others, mostly their friends and family. By setting the bar for success based on the achievement of others rather than improving upon their own accomplishments, they are setting themselves up for constant stress and disappointment.
#6 – Passing on Chances to Be Social
If you have a friend that is suffering from anxiety you may notice that they regularly come up with excuses not to meet or hang out. While it may seem as though they don’t want to spend time with you, the truth is that they do, however, they experience extreme anxiety from social situations.
#7 – Lack of Sleep
Often people who suffer from anxiety suffer from exhaustion due to the fact that they struggle to maintain a normal sleep pattern. Their worries and concerns cause them to stay up late at night, unable to shut down and fall asleep.
#8 – Fear of Medical Situations
While going to the doctor can be an inconvenience for you and I, for those who suffer from anxiety even the smallest ailment can send their mind spinning. They jump to the worst possible situations, for example, if they are suffering from a headache they are likely concerned about the brain tumor that they are positive they possess.
#9 – Scared of the Future
There is nothing that causes greater stress and concern for someone that suffers from anxiety than the unknown. There is nothing that is more unknown than the future, a constant source of worry and fear, which can be incredibly draining.
#10 – They Equate Other People’s Concerns to Professional Diagnoses
People who suffer from high anxiety place an incredibly high level of importance on anything that is said by the people around them. An expression of concern or shared opinion is held to the same level of importance as professional advice.
#11 – Obsessing Over the Smallest Details
Rather than seeing and accepting the big picture, people who suffer from anxiety focus on the smallest details of every situation. For example, if they are speaking with someone they will not only notice their words or even their intonation – they will notice the smallest gestures, looks, or changes in your posture.
#12 – Excessive Paranoia
Those who suffer from anxiety spend a great deal of their time considering every possible outcome to every situation in their lives. The longer they focus on these thoughts, the further they travel down the ‘rabbit hole’ of paranoia.
#13 – All Mistakes Are Magnified
When the average person makes a mistake, they may feel bad for a short period of time, or take steps to rectify it and set things right before moving on. For people with anxiety, mistakes are magnified causing even the smallest error to be seen as life or death.
#14 – Self-Consciousness
Whether they are having a one on one conversation with a close friend or speaking in front of a large crowd of strangers, people who live with anxiety are incredibly self-conscious. This may manifest in a number of ways including blushing, mumbling, stuttering, trembling or stumbling over their words.
Image via Vice