According to Mental Health Foundation, there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety in the UK in 2013 – I can only imagine that four years later, that number has probably increased.
Like most ordinary people, I have my good days, I have my bad days and I have my really bad days. You would probably look at me and think there’s nothing wrong with me – at most you would probably just assume I’m quiet, a bit weird and a little shy. I’ll be the first one to say I am most definitely those three things but I am also, more than often, incredibly anxious. Surprisingly, only a few of my close friends and family know this fact about me, and if I’m being totally honest, the only reason they know is because I simply couldn’t hold it in any longer.
We live in a world where we are afraid to admit that we are struggling, whether it be physically, mentally, emotionally, or financially. Without opening up to our friends and family, it can be quite difficult for someone to understand exactly what we are going through.
So, to make it a little bit easier for those who have anxiety and for those who want to offer a helping hand, here’s 14 things people with anxiety want you to know.
For real. We have no control. There doesn’t have to be a reason or a trigger, we could be having the most perfect, chilled out day and it will creep up at any given time with zero explanation. 2. We over-analyse and question every little thing.
Replaying conversations from the day over and over, to questioning why he’s with you to freaking out about how you’re going to get off the packed tube 10 stations before your stop. We can’t help but overthink and jump to conclusions about things that shouldn’t even be a concern. We’re not crazy, we just like to be observant.
3. You can’t just switch it off.
If this was a thing, the ‘off’ button would be broken. A lot of people believe that anxiety is something that you can just snap out of but unfortunately, that’s not the case.
4. And no, meditation isn’t always the cure.
‘Have you tried meditating?’ This is probably one of my most hated questions. Meditation can work for some people (if you’re one of those people then YES! keep doing your thing!), but for others it really doesn’t make any difference. Personally, I couldn’t think of anything worse than sitting in a room with just me and my mind.
Walking in to a crowded room full of strangers, a spontaneous meeting with our boss, finding our way to somewhere we have never been before – small day to day situations like these may not bother you in the slightest but to someone with anxiety they are a big, big challenge and can be physically draining.6. It doesn’t just affect the mind – it physically effects the whole body too.
Tight chest, clammy hands, hot flushes, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, muscle tension, loss of appetite, even bloating can be some of the physical affects of anxiety. It isn’t always a racing, overthinking mind. When I begin to feel anxious, my chest tightens and I find it hard to follow a natural breathing pattern. I can feel a ‘lump’ in my throat that makes me feel like I could choke on my words and burst in to tears at any minute. It’s good to bear in mind that anxiety doesn’t have a look and that the symptoms are different for everyone.
Of course, panic attacks are one of the scary physical effects of anxiety, however they aren’t the only form that anxiety can take. Anger and frustration are also ways that anxiety can manifest and are probably one of the more hidden emotions. We often feel irritated and helpless, which in return results in unwanted outbursts of anger and frustration. 8. But more than often, we’ll suffer in silence.
On the flip side, being quieter than normal and seeming ‘zoned out’ is another way some people deal with anxiety. A, because we don’t want to bother you with our ‘problems’, and B, because we are embarrassed. We’ll suffer in silence because we know we’ll get over it, but if you ask us ‘what’s up’, we will be more than happy to try and explain.
9. We’re not anti-social or moody, we just find it hard to socialise sometimes.
If we happen to cancel last minute or don’t really seem up for that wild night out, it’s not because we don’t like you or don’t want to be there, sometimes we just have a hard time facing the world and would rather burrow down in bed with a large pizza and a good movie – the last thing we want you to do is take it personal! Give us some ‘me time’ to reflect and regain energy and we’ll be back on the dance floor in no time.
Our lives could be picture perfect and we could be the happiest we’ve ever been but for some reason we can’t seem to shake the niggling feeling that something isn’t right. We know we should be embracing the moment but we can’t help but think that something bad is lined up for us in the near future.11. We obsess over the smallest and silliest of things, that most people probably wouldn’t even think twice about, for years.
If I could type this in size 10000, bold, 100 times with 50 exclamation marks I would. From being late, to screwing something up, to that time when we said something stupid six years ago. There’s no in between. We either stress over really small things or really big things and in reality, neither are really worth losing sleep over!
12. Most of the time, we can’t even explain why we are feeling anxious
‘What are you worrying about?’ Our answer? ‘I don’t know.’ And we genuinely don’t know. If we could tell you, we would.
13. Forcing us to do something that is out of our comfort zone can throw us over the edge. We’ll conquer it in our time.
Just like the average person really. Facing fears or something that is out of your comfort zone can be frightening for anybody. Add some anxiety in to the equation and it can become an even more stressful situation. I believe that when a person is ready mentally AND physically they can take on anything that is thrown their way. Patience is key with this one.
14. If you don’t know what else to do, just listen.
Getting caught up in an anxiety whirlwind can send us in to ‘tunnel vision’ mode. Offering a helping hand (or ear), comfort and just a friendly reminder to breathe is really appreciated and can go a long way. And we promise we will return the favour.