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Impacting approximately 40 million adults in the United States, anxiety is believed to be the most common mental illness faced by Americans today. While there is no solution to instantly free us from the bonds of anxiety, we can help those around us to better understand what is happening.

It’s an ongoing battle, impacting our lives every day. While there are great days, where we can stand tall with a smile on our face, we will also experience our lows, unable to leave the safety of our own bed. While we may try to explain how we are feeling or what we are currently experiencing to those we love, it can be difficult to put it all into words. After all, anxiety is a complex disorder.

Here are 25 things that people with anxiety wish that others would understand:

#1 – Being Quiet Doesn’t Mean I’m Sad

If you notice that I’m quieter than usual, please don’t assume that I’m sad or upset about something. Thanks to my anxiety, my mind is always going 90 miles an hour and I may simply be trying to take in everything that’s happening in that moment. While it could have a deeper meaning, it doesn’t always.

#2 – If I Say I’m Uncomfortable with Something, Drop It

There is no one that knows my anxiety and its triggers better than me. If I tell you that I am uncomfortable doing something, please don’t continue to push me. I have taken steps to protect myself by telling you this, so respect me and my requests. I’ve likely said this for a reason.

#3 – It Can Strike At Any Moment

Sure, it’s easy to explain why we may be feeling anxious during life’s most stressful moments, but what about the rest of the time? There are going to be days that all appears to be going great, and yet I’m still going to struggle with anxiety. I don’t know when it’s going to hit, but I do know that I need your support when it does.

#4 – Please, Don’t Give Up On Me

If there is one thing that I fear more than anything else, it’s that the people I love and trust will give up on me and abandon me. I know that dealing with me can be frustrating, but I need your support and understanding now more than ever.

#5 – I May Not Be Able to Explain It

There are going to be times that I don’t even fully understand what I’m feeling, I just know that I do. As much as I would love to be able to explain to you what’s going on, that isn’t always a possibility. In those moments, please just trust that I am telling you everything that I can.

#6 – Social Situations Can Be Difficult

When I am dealing with my anxiety, the last thing I want to do is to surround myself with other people. Especially people who don’t understand what I’m dealing with, or who may judge me for my actions at this time. This often leads to canceled plans, as I realize that I am better off staying home.

#7 – It’s Not Rational

You may want to explain away my struggles by pointing out how irrational my thinking is, but I need you to know that in that moment it is SO real to me. Rather than judging me for it, try to put yourself in my shoes. It may just open your eyes a little…

#8 – My Anxiety Doesn’t Define Me

If I have been honest with you and shared the fact that I struggle with anxiety, please don’t allow it to change the way that you see me. I am not my anxiety, it is merely a something that I live with. It is no different than someone dealing with a physical disease.

#9 – I Am Truly Sorry

I know that my anxiety can be difficult for you to deal with at times. I am regularly canceling plans, I sometimes say hurtful things, I may lash out or overreact and my actions may be irrational. I don’t always remember to say it, but I am sorry for everything that I put you through and am genuinely grateful for your support.

#10 – ‘Just Get Over It’ Doesn’t Help

I’m sure that you mean well, however telling someone dealing with anxiety to ‘just get over it’ makes it seem like you believe their struggles are trivial. Honestly, if it was that easy, don’t you think I would have done so a long time ago?

#11 – It’s Not Personal

If I have lashed out at you for some reason, or canceled plans multiple times, please don’t take it personally. It is truly not about you, it’s about the struggle that is currently going on within my own mind. I am genuinely sorry for taking it out on you in any way.

#12 – Isolating Myself Doesn’t Mean I Don’t Want Your Help

This is arguably one of the hardest aspects of my anxiety to explain. There are going to be days that I go out of my way to isolate myself, cutting myself off from the world. In those moments, its not that I don’t want your help and support, quite the opposite – I need to know you’re there for me. Please keep inviting me out so that I know that you still care. I will come back around again.

#13 – Sometimes I Lie to You

There are times that I am going to outright lie to you. I will tell you that everything is okay, and nothing is wrong, even when you can see that this couldn’t be true. It’s not that I don’t trust you with the truth, but I don’t want to burden you with my concerns.

#14 – I’m Not Blowing You Off

I know we made plans weeks ago, so the last thing you want is a phone call the day of to say I’m changing my mind. Please understand that I’m not intentionally blowing you off. If I’m currently in the middle of an anxiety attack, even the idea of leaving the house can be far too overwhelming. I want to spend time with you, I just can’t in that moment.

#15 – Every Day is A New Day

Try to treat every day like it’s a new day, a fresh opportunity. For example, if I blew you off yesterday saying that my anxiety couldn’t handle facing the world outside of these four walls, that doesn’t mean I feel the same way today. Invite me out again, I may just take you up on it.

#16 – It Isn’t Always Obvious

There are going to be times that I am struggling with my anxiety and no one else will even know. This is because it’s not always obvious and in your face. If I seem ‘off’ try to remember that I could still be having a bad day, even if I appear to be doing okay.

#17 – When I’ve Reached My Limit, Please Let Me Be

I will try to push through this and keep living as normal a life as possible. In fact, I will push myself when I don’t think I’m capable of pushing myself any further. However, when I hit that brick wall and believe I can’t go any further, than please understand I’m done and there’s no changing my mind. I simply ask you to respect it.

#18 – Anxiety Lingers Even During Time of Happiness

Things may be going well, I may even have a genuine smile on my face, but that doesn’t mean that anxiety isn’t still lingering in the back of my mind. While I try to enjoy the moment, I can’t help but worry about the fact that darkness is hiding just around the next corner.

#19 – I Overanalyze Every Word

When we are having a conversation, my mind is always on the go. I am busy thinking about every word you say, the tone in which you said it, the context, whether there was an underlying message I am missing and more. It would be easier if I could just take it all at face value, but my anxiety won’t allow me to.

#20 – I’m Always Overthinking

Thanks to my anxiety, I am always overthinking everything and everyone. I don’t trust that things are as they first appear, which then leads me to examine the situation further. It’s largely paranoia, a belief that even if things look great, something has to be wrong.

#21 – Know That The Person Most Disappointed In Me Is Me

When I tell you that I can’t do something, don’t think I don’t notice the disappointment in your eyes. However, when it all comes down to it, the person who is most disappointed in me is myself.

#22 – It’s Not Always Going to LOOK Like You Expect

When I say that I suffer from anxiety, people automatically picture the typical panic attack – hyperventilating, pacing back and forth, nausea, etc. However, in reality, anxiety doesn’t always present itself in this way. In fact, to an outsider, I may just look overly frustrated and irritated, while deep down I’m seriously struggling. All I can ask for is your patience.

#23 – Things Can Change In Seconds

I can be completely fine and feeling great one moment and struggling more than I can explain the next. Much like the mood swings that so many people face, it can turn on a dime. Nothing is guaranteed, and nothing is constant.

#24 – I Don’t Need You To ‘Fix’ Me

When I am honest with you, sharing everything that I am currently going through I don’t do this because I am asking you to fix me or the situation. I just someone in that moment to listen to me, support me and tell me that they are there. I need to know that you love me as I am, including all of my broken pieces.

#25 – Sometimes I Just Need to Be Alone

Please don’t take it as something personal, it’s not that I don’t want your company. However, there are going to be times that the thing I need most is simply to spend some time alone. This provides me with the opportunity to rest, recharge and re-center myself. It is necessary for my overall well-being.

Image via Soul Travel Rules