General anxiety disorder is an anxiety disorder that is categorized by persistent worrying. It differs from other anxiety disorders in that there is no specific cause of the anxiety, unlike social anxiety, for example. (Social anxiety is categorized by worry that impacts a person when they are in a social setting.)
People suffering from General Anxiety Disorder often experience symptoms that make daily activities difficult.
Here are a few things that people with General Anxiety Disorder want you to know so that you can better understand our struggle:
1. We can’t control when we get anxious
It’s a wave of worry that just overcomes us, sometimes when we least expect it. We try our best to push it down and continue to do what we are supposed to be doing, but sometimes it is too strong for us to control.
2. Forcing us into doing things doesn’t make the anxiety go away
When people force us into situations we feel anxious about, it actually makes the anxiety worse. When we feel anxious about a situation, we want to come to terms with our anxiety and make the decision to either go or back out. Being forced into a situation makes us feel trapped, which in turn makes us anxious and frustrated.
3. We feel really helpless when we start feeling anxious
Sometimes our anxiety shows up at the worst possible time. We may want to do certain things but our anxiety overtakes us and stops us from doing what we want to do. This leaves us feeling helpless. It also doesn’t help when people tell us that we should just go do what we want to do without letting things stop us, because it’s something that we can’t really control.
4. We get anxious at the thought of being anxious
When we feel our anxiety coming along, that actually makes us more nervous. Anxiety has a way worsening at really inconvenient times. When we are in situations that require us to be at our best and our anxiety shows up, it actually makes us more anxious, which is not fun at all.
5. We can’t just push through it
There are times when we can push it down and try to focus our attention on other things. There are other times when it overcomes us and there is nothing we can do to stop it. When people tell us to push through, it makes us feel like it is our responsibility to try and overcome it when in reality we can’t always control our experience of the disorder.
6. We are often crippled by our anxiety
There are so many things we actually want to do and wish we could do, but we are stopped because of our anxiety. Contrary to what many people think, people with general anxiety disorder aren’t lazy. We are stopped from doing many things because our anxiety holds us back.
7. We are grateful when people try and accommodate our anxiety when making plans
When friends consider how we get anxious when making plans and they try to accommodate our anxiety, we really appreciate it. Friends who make sure there is a fixed plan and time, pick you up, and make sure you get home safe are the best.
8. We feel frustrated when we have to cancel plans
When our anxiety takes over and we have to back out of plans we have made, we feel really frustrated. We want you to understand that it’s not that we are flaky. We didn’t want to cancel, and doing so leaves us feeling very frustrated, and at times really depressed.
9. We don’t like being asked if we wish we were normal
This is the worst thing you could possibly ask us. It makes us feel even more singled out and frustrated than we already do. When our anxiety is bad, and it holds us back we actually suffer a great deal. You asking us if we wished we were normal doesn’t help that at all.
10. We understand that our anxieties are irrational more often than not
We know when we worry about the things that we worry about, it often has no solid foundation. We know that sometimes it doesn’t make any sense. We appreciate it when you take the time to calm our anxieties down even when you know they are irrational.
11. When we feel anxious, our senses are heightened
When our anxiety starts, we feel things more intensely. Sounds are louder than they should be and we feel very hot. It makes it easier for us to calm down when we are in open spaces with fresh, cool air.
12. We often feel proud of ourselves for doing things
Things that may seem small and insignificant to you may be a big deal for us. When we do things like give presentations, or even get on a plane successfully, we feel really proud of ourselves. People don’t really understand how hard some of these things are for us. We feel happy when you acknowledge how hard it was and how we did do a big thing by carrying it out.
13. We can’t explain why our anxiety is triggered when we are in certain places
When you ask us why we feel this way or what happened to make us anxious, we can’t really give you a straight answer. When our anxiety comes, sometimes we have no idea what triggered it.
14. Asking us to breathe and do calming exercises doesn’t work. So please stop.
Thank you for all your breathing techniques, but we have tried them all and they don’t work. Once the anxiety has started the breathing techniques don’t really help much. We prefer leaving the situation and going somewhere with fresh air. The thing that helps the most is going somewhere we feel comfortable to help us calm down.
15. Sometimes we just wake up with anxiety and there’s nothing we can do about it
There are times when we wake up in the morning feeling anxious and we know that we’ll be feeling that way the whole day. We like to lay low and do minimally stimulating things on days like this to lower the effects of the anxiety.
16. Caffeine is our worst enemy
Caffeine is the devil, in terms of making us feel even more jittery. However, this doesn’t stop many of us from drinking it, as we may need it to carry out daily activities. So, we often have to deal with the nasty side effects of caffeine on our anxiety.
17. We are plagued by terrible thoughts when we leave our comfort zone
When we leave our comfort zone, we constantly worry about things like if we left the stove on, or if we forgot to lock the front door. It’s something we struggle with daily and most of us have come up with ways of trying to rid ourselves of these thoughts.
18. It doesn’t help us when you talk down to us
Don’t treat us like we are children. Just because we feel anxious doesn’t mean our brains have melted. We understand what you are saying, we just need time to calm down.
19. We really don’t appreciate it when you tell us it’s all in our heads
Trust me, the feeling is very real and very strong. It’s a feeling we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy, so saying that it’s all in our heads ultimately isn’t useful at all.
20. We really do appreciate it when you understand it’s something we can’t control
When people understand that our anxiety is something completely out of our control, it actually makes it a lot easier for us. It takes away the worry that you won’t like us anymore, and the worry of having have to explain to someone what is going on. It also reduces our anxiety a great deal to have someone who understands what we are going through in our presence.
Featured photo credit: mamnaimie piotr via flickr.com