It’s a very interesting thing to have a “high-functioning” mental illness in today’s world. It’s a strange thing to feel like you are crumbling on the inside, all the while pushing forward on the outside.
Years ago, I was placed in a mental hospital. Most of my co-workers that I ended up telling (a select few) were shocked when I told them because I had held it together for so long. From the outside looking in, I was a hard worker, I was always on time, I always met my work goals and my life was pretty together. On the inside, though, it was a much different story. I was drinking two bottles of wine each evening after work, while I power cleaned the house. I was crying in the shower. Every time I balanced my checkbook I felt like a fraud because I could sense that I was just barely holding everything together so well. Don’t get me wrong, I was doing a great job, but I was building a house of cards.
Eventually, life caught up, and I had to be hospitalized. Since that happened, I have learned a lot about mental health. And one of the things I have realized is that just because someone appears to have it all together does not mean that they do. There are signs, though. If you are worried that something isn’t quite right, either with yourself or with others, here are some signs to look out for. I wish I had realized way before my breakdown that I was dealing with high-functioning anxiety.
1. You feel like at any moment you may break.
No matter how much you get done, you always wonder when the other shoe will drop. You may get one task done, only jump into another not because you want to, but due to fear. If you ever stop, you worry everything will fall apart.
2. You are constantly wondering, “What if?”
When you are going over a bridge, you may wonder what would happen if you went over the edge. You may even have a plan in place. Or, when you go to the store, you may see a car pull up and immediately haphazardly watch the people out of the corner of your eyes, in fear that they could rob you or worse. You are always looking for what the worst-case scenario might be.
3. You feel unable to relax and enjoy anything.
When it’s time to relax and take some time to yourself, you feel unable to. You have a hard time just taking time to regroup and relax. Even when you know you need it, allowing yourself to relax may seem impossible because you are worried about what will happen if you do.
4. You are constantly worried about the future.
You are always wondering about what is to come. You may envision losing your job or getting a ticket. Every aspect of the unknown and its potential of it seems terrifying.
5. Difficulty falling asleep.
You struggle to fall asleep at night because you can’t stop the racing thoughts. No matter how hard you try to stow them away, they re-emerge, and it keeps you up for hours.
6. You overanalyze everything.
Before you make a decision, you have to go over every detail again and again. You ask yourself long lists of questions, and you think about every situation from every possible angle. Sometimes, you get stuck analyzing things and stop living your life.
7. You dwell on your mistakes.
Every mistake you have ever made lives rent-free in your mind. You just can’t shake your failures, and especially on a bad day, you tend to get caught up in negative thinking traps.
8. You have nervous habits.
You often find yourself twiddling your fingers, playing with your hair, or even shaking your feet. You have a hard time keeping yourself still and it can be a problem.