By Lauren Jarvis-Gibson
1. Just because we look calm, does not mean that we are.
High functioning anxiety is like a huge monster inside of your head, that for the life of you, you can’t seem to make it go away. You do everything in your power to make it stop, but you can’t help but feel the aches in your shoulders, and feel your heart beat speed up like a wildfire. You look put together. You look like you have your life together. But inside? You feel like you are dying.
2. Sometimes we have to immediately leave social settings without warning. Please don’t take this as an insult.
We feel fine for a minute, laughing along with our friends and enjoying life, when all of a sudden, our head will be full of ‘what ifs’ and swirling questions come crashing down into our brains. It can be so incredibly overwhelming that we will have to leave certain situations to calm ourselves down.
3. We constantly put ourselves down.
We may be successful in our careers. We may be great at our jobs. We may even get praised often. But do we believe it? No. In our career, in our personal life and in our love, we put ourselves down. We always think we can do better and we always put ourselves through so much stress just to get through one day.
4. We have tiny habits that we can’t break.
Sometimes our anxiety comes out in different habits. Some bite their nails, while others tear off their cuticles. Some tap their feet in a constant attempt to rid their body of all of the anxiety and the questions. For me personally? I do a lot of different things. I yawn to try to breathe better. I pick at my eyelashes. I bite my nails. I roll my shoulders over and over again to try to rid my body of those toxic thoughts. We do anything and everything to try to distract ourselves from the ideas that takeover our minds.
5. Anxiety doesn’t care about how happy we are or what is going on in our lives. It is always there.
No matter what we do, no matter where we are, and no matter who we are with, it can happen at any moment. The fear. The shaking. The images that cross our mind at lightning speed. The intense nausea and stomach cramps. The worry. The panic. The twirling of our hair. The need for more oxygen. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
6. We are perfectionists.
We try really, really hard. At everything. If our boss tells us to walk, we run. If our boss says we did a ‘good job’ we don’t see it as good enough for us. We try to be 100% perfect at everything that we do, and in our personal life too. Obviously this is impossible to do and everyone makes mistakes, but in our heads, we have to be the best of the best.
7. We freak out over the tiniest of things.
We are incredibly mean to ourselves when we make mistakes, no matter how easy it was for us to make it. We beat ourselves up in our heads day in and day out. We don’t know how to tell ourselves that it is ok. It’s ok to fall and stumble. And everyone, and I mean everyone, makes mistakes.
8. We are people pleasers.
We love to make people happy even if that means making ourselves unhappy. We want our parents to be proud. We want guests to be happy 24/7 at a party we host. We want to make our bosses proud, and we want to make ourselves proud. However, anxiety makes us think that nothing we do is good enough.
9. Answering emails or messaging other people can make us feel like we’re suffocating.
A tiny task can feel overwhelming and can petrify us. Sometimes we have to calm ourselves down just to send an email to someone we have known for years. At times, we don’t answer texts back or we leave messages unanswered because it’s so much easier to let it go, instead of interact.
10. The thoughts in our heads drastically differ from how we look to other people on the outside.
We may seem like we have the perfect life. We may look like we have the perfect career, the perfect partner, or the perfect home. But on the inside, we are scared. We are struggling. We are afraid. Afraid of our worst nightmares coming true. Afraid of losing everything that we have worked hard for. Afraid that we will become nothing. High functioning anxiety can truly make us into our own worst enemies.
11. We always, always have to stay busy.
We have to stay busy to keep sane. Whether it be a creative outlet like singing or writing, or something like exercise to keep our mind from running away from us, we always have to be doing something. Anything to shut the voices out. Anything to calm down our thumping, burning hearts. Anything to keep us from exploding.