things people with anxiety want you to know

14 Things People With Anxiety Want You To Know

As someone with anxiety, this is what I wish people understood about my mental illness.

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Anxiety is something that I have dealt with for most of my life and there are many things I have realized from my experience with it. One of those things being that people without anxiety have no way of understanding the inner workings of the illness. I have had countless friends and family members try and calm me during a panic attack, but they do not know what to do or how to act. The only way for someone without anxiety to genuinely understand is for those of us with anxiety to try our best to explain.

1. Anxiety takes a physical toll as well as a mental one.

While anxiety is classified as a mental illness, the "side effects" of it are very much physical. Anxiety keeps you constantly on guard and you have no time to relax which can result in exhaustion. Anxiety attacks, which can be sudden and without cause, can often present like a heart attack. Chest pains, trouble breathing, and nausea are all common physical aspects of dealing with anxiety. So when we say we are tired, do not belittle that feeling.

2. Sometimes there is no trigger for an anxiety attack

They can come on suddenly and without a cause. Our body sometimes sees a threat where there is not one and goes into panic mode. If you ask us what caused the sudden outburst and we say "I don't know," most of the time we really do not know.

3. Anxiety is the most common mental illness in America

According to the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America), anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness; it affects 40 million adults, 18% of the population, every year. We are not freaks because we suffer from this mental illness. And if you suffer from it as well, you are not at all alone.

4. Each person's anxiety is unique

Sometimes anxiety manifests in a very physical way but other times a person may never experience an anxiety attack. Just as with most illnesses, each body fights this mental illness differently. Just because your cousin's bestfriend's mom tried meditation to cure her anxiety does not mean that meditation will help everyone else's anxiety be "cured."

5. Anxiety attacks are overwhelming and can feel embarrassing

Especially if they come on without warning, it can feel like someone pulling a rug out from under you. And once you are in the midst of an anxiety attack, you kind of have to just ride it out for a little bit until you are calm enough to snap out of it. Anxiety attacks are also very personal, so to have one in front of other people can make someone feel uncomfortable and embarrassed, particularly if it is in front of someone they are not close with.

6. Even if our fear seems irrational to you, to us it is very, terrifyingly real

I used to be deathly afraid of thunderstorms; to me, I thought it meant the world was ending. Even though there was a part of my brain that told me that was false, the anxiety-ridden part often overpowered the rational part. Now thunderstorms are a common occurrence and nothing to be afraid of, but they left me feeling paralyzed. It did not matter how many people told me there was nothing to be afraid of, I was terrified. So even if you think whatever we are afraid of is stupid, please do try and tell us that it is not scary.

7. Sometimes we just need to be alone...

There are times when the best thing is to just lock yourself in your room and let the anxiety run its course. In those situations, when we tell you we want to be alone or that we do not want you near us, we are not being mean, we simply just need our space.

8. ...but other times even just having someone else in the room with you can help

For some people, physical contact can reduce anxiety. Many people use weighted blankets to mimic a hug in order to calm anxiety. Just knowing that someone else is there with you makes you feel less alone.

9. We overanalyze EVERYTHING

It does not matter how long we have been friends or how close we are, there is always a part of my brain that tells me that people secretly hate me. Anxiety causes us to pick apart everything that happens. Accepting anything at surface value is difficult for us. When you compliment us and we do not accept it, keep complimenting us, eventually our brain will believe you.

10. If we cancel plans last minute, it is not because we do not want to go, it is because we CANNOT

The amount of times I have "flaked" on people because anxiety got the best of me is ridiculous. But there are times when no matter how badly you want to go out, your anxiety will not let you. When we text you 10 minutes before we are supposed to meet up telling you that we are suddenly "sick," do not take it personally, I swear there is a good reason.

11. Decisions can be difficult for us

Even deciding what kind of sandwich I want for lunch can feel like a battle some days. Anxiety can cause us to constantly feel like we are missing out on something, rendering decisions a nightmare.

12. Having anxiety is like having an alter ego

I say things when I am anxious that I do not mean. I become rude and cut off emotionally in order to cope. You have the person you truly are and then the person you are when you are anxious, and they tend to be polar opposites. So if we are mean to you when we are anxious, just know that it is usually our "alter ego" speaking.

13. We do not use our anxiety as an excuse to get out of things.

If we say we are anxious or having a panic attack, we mean it; it is not a method of avoidance.

14. We are not just our anxiety.

Yes, our anxiety is a part of us, but it does not define us. Do not treat us differently because you are scared to set us off. We are just as frustrated and annoyed by our anxiety as other people are, but we cannot help that we have an illness. We cannot just "make it stop"; do not belittle us because we worry more than the average person. Would you shame someone for having cancer?

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

From an outside perspective, suicidal thoughts are rarely looked into deeper than the surface level. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is that people live in between those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead.

You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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12 Simple Ways To Ease Your Anxiety

These are some super simple ways to handle your stress at home.

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Anxiety and stress are very common problems for many of us in today's society.

Over 70% of adults face some sort of anxiety or stress in their lives.

It can really be overwhelming and can seriously affect our mood for the rest of the day.

Pushing these feelings of anxiety and stress aside and letting them build up does nothing but cause more harm to our minds and bodies.

Sometimes, we just need a quick and easy way to help alleviate some of this stress to help us get through the day and to help us feel better.

Here are 12 ways to do just that:

1. Practice deep breathing

Mental stress and anxiety can cause your body to respond in physical ways. Since it affects your sympathetic nervous system, you might experience elevated heart rate, shortness of breath, or lightheadedness. Breathing deeply and slowly can help slow your heart and ease your body back into a calm state. When I panic or feel overwhelmed, I breathe in slowly through my nose, think of one thing that makes me happy, slowly breathe out through my mouth, and repeat until I can feel my mind and body begin to calm.

2. Light a candle or start up your essential oil diffuser

My personal favorite scent to soothe my anxiety is lavender. However, you can also try chamomile, rose, orange, jasmine, sandalwood, or whatever else might help you.

3. Exercise

This is a big one, but can also be a very difficult one. Whenever you're feeling extremely anxious or overwhelmed, it might be hard enough for you to get yourself out of bed, let alone do any serious exercising. My best advice is to be proactive and try to pay attention to when you first start feeling your anxiety creep up on you. Just go ahead and get up and go for a walk, run, or whatever form of exercise you prefer!

4. Read a book

For me, there's nothing like curling up with a good book to help calm my nerves. Whenever I am knowingly going into a situation that will make me anxious, such as traveling, I always make sure to bring a book to read whenever I start to feel overwhelmed. Reading helps me to temporarily escape my anxieties and can be a big help in giving myself some much needed time to calm down.

5. Do yoga and practice meditation

Yoga is such a helpful activity for those with anxiety and stress! It kind of is just a combination of many different anxiety-relieving techniques (exercise, deep breathing, and mindfulness). There are many different apps, books, classes, and websites you can use as a guide and help to do yoga. You can find what positions, locations, and situation are best for you. Doing yoga gives you a great opportunity to think about and reflect on your feelings and worries.

6. Spend time with loved ones (yes, even your furbabies)

Sometimes, all we need is a little love and reassurance in our lives to alleviate some of our anxieties. Spending time with your family, friends, and pets can help us to see and remember the good things we have in our lives. So many times, those of us with anxiety tend to seclude ourselves and that makes it easy to forget the good we have.

7. Drink more water

Caffeine is a stimulant and can cause feelings of anxiety. It can make you feel jittery and can be a cause for elevated heart rate. Drinking more water not only helps you physically (like hydrating your skin and body), but it can also do wonders for your mental health. When your body is unhealthy and unhappy, that can be a big factor in feelings of depression and anxiety.

8. Take a short nap

If you begin to feel overwhelmed or anxious, sometimes it can do some good to just take a short 30-minute nap. Just give yourself some time to rest your mind and body and face the issue with a new focus and fresh thoughts.

9. Journal

Even though writing down your feelings, bad or good, can be helpful, when you're feeling anxious or overwhelmed, try focusing on the positive! Write down a few things that made you happy today or a few things that you're grateful for. Don't let yourself be bogged down by the negative.

10. Clean

This might not work for everybody, but I know that sometimes when I'm feeling restless or anxious, cleaning and decluttering can help clear my mind. Basically, it's just good to find something to put your focus on when your anxious thoughts feel like too much. Try to pick a task and focus on that until you're finished. You'll likely find, in the end, that you feel much better than before you started.

11. Listen to happy and soothing music

Listening to music is a BIG help to some people with anxiety. However, you need to be mindful of what you're listening to. Don't put on the breakup playlist you made when you were 13. Find happy or soothing songs and make yourself a playlist of songs with themes of positivity.

12. Don't bottle up your feelings

This might just be the most important advice I can give you when it comes to handling your anxiety. The worst thing that you can do is to suppress your feelings and try to force yourself to forget about them. Hiding or bottling up your feelings might help temporarily, but that will just make you feel worse in the end. Talk to someone or try one of the other methods I mentioned to face your anxiety, but don't pretend like it doesn't exist.

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