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14 Things Only People Living With Anxiety Can Understand

14 Things Only People Living With Anxiety Can Understand

I get nervous about everything, sometimes I literally don’t know why I’m anxious; I just am and no one seems to understand that.  

The above quote has appeared so many places on the web that I could not determine its original source; it’s a testament to how many people suffer from an anxiety disorder and how they feel about it.

The NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) defines anxiety disorders:

Anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. These feelings can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships.

Estimates are that up to 40 million people in the US alone, from all demographics, experience some type of anxiety disorder. I am one of those people from the US and here are some of the things about living with an anxiety disorder that we would like people to understand:

It can be extremely debilitating.

Attacks can be very severe, causing problems ranging from physical illness to a need to get away and hide from everything. It interferes with normal functioning when at its worst.

It has many forms and levels. 

General Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Phobias can all be grouped under this general heading of Anxiety. There are also varying levels of severity of the disorders that people can experience. For me, my General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is at a well-controlled level.

It is more than just worry. 

Worry is a normal human emotion that most people experience at times. An anxiety disorder goes beyond this once-in-a-while feeling to a long-term life-interfering problem.

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It can cause physical symptoms. 

Extreme attacks can cause shortness of breath, headaches, nausea, and other physical problems. For me, it is digestive system problems during bad attacks.

I can not just “get over it” or turn it off at will. 

It is not some bad habit I need to break, nor an addiction to be overcome. It is an actual medically diagnosed illness, often involving brain chemistry, that can be managed.

I tend to overthink.  

Situations, actions, words – from myself or others – can be over-analyzed to the point of mental paralysis. I have to apply coping skills that short-circuit the anxiety thought loop.

I tend to overprocess outside stimuli.  

Anxiety disorders can cause or aggravate problems with sensory input. For me, it is with sounds. I have always been sound-sensitive, but now hearing too much noise or certain noises can lead to serious agitation unless I leave the area or block out the sound.

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I can have attacks from a trigger situation. 

There are highs and lows with anxiety. My anxiety is well-controlled through my faith, counseling, and medication, but there are times when a situation, often socially related for me, can still trigger a mild anxiety spike.

I can have attacks for no reason at all. 

Because anxiety can be related to brain chemistry among other factors, there are times when all is going well, but I still feel an anxiety spike coming on. This is where medication – Zoloft works for me, but others need different medications for their body chemistry – most often comes into the picture, just as it would for a more classic physical disease.

I may seem antisocial at times due to an anxiety spike.

If I feel an anxiety attack coming on, I may excuse myself suddenly from a social situation. I do not dislike your company, but believe me, a full-blown attack is not a pretty thing.

I need ways to vent, cope, or otherwise deal with the anxiety.

This is where professional counseling really helps, but sometimes I need a friend to listen when I can not get to the counselor right away.  Friends who understand and calmly listen are a precious treasure indeed.

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I am afraid of overwhelming those friends.

I do have friends who listen, but I am often concerned that I may overwhelm them with my needs if I am going through a prolonged period of anxiety.

I have developed a deep empathy for those facing hidden problems. 

My special education teaching experience taught me empathy for students with not so obvious learning problems. My anxiety disorder has taught me empathy for those facing emotional struggles.

I have learned to appreciate the quietly pleasant times more.  

I do not need a party or a huge group of friends to have a good time – in fact, that might cause anxiety. I do appreciate the little pleasures in life more – like my cat purring by me, a day filled with sunshine, the songs of my faith, getting the right words on a page for my writing. Most of all, I appreciate those friends who care and support and listen and understand.

Featured photo credit: Haywire by porschlinn via flickr.com

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Betsy Ruffin

consultant in writing, research, technology

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Last Updated on February 17, 2020

5 Reasons Why You Should Always Be Who You Are

5 Reasons Why You Should Always Be Who You Are

When it comes to being yourself, there can be a lot of pressure from the outside world as it tries to influence who you are. Living in a society that is constantly developing, it’s important for you to always be yourself from the inside out.

When you deeply know yourself and the boundaries that you have set, you are more likely to experience a fulfilling and rewarding life. Without knowing yourself and establishing those boundaries, you can easily be pushed around and end up on a dirt path.

So how to be who you are and always be yourself?

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” – Matthew 7:13-14

You have the option of taking the path that is broad or taking the path that is narrow. You can either conform to what life wants you to be, or have the courage to remain true to yourself throughout the years. It’s definitely a challenge to have a strong sense of self when we are constantly getting distracted and being influenced by the media and society’s way of life. But if you want to reach your fullest potential in life, it all starts with being yourself.

Why should you always be yourself? Because you will:

1. Live in Alignment With Your Values and Beliefs

Being yourself is all about knowing what you believe in and the values that you live by. When you are not yourself, you will take on the values and beliefs of others. This is when you start conforming to other people’s expectations and way of thinking.

When you know your values and why you do what you do, you will live according to your own values and beliefs.

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2. Establish Your Own Identity

When you are able to have a solid foundation of being you, you are establishing your own sense of identity. No matter what happens in your life, you will always know who you are.

There will be times where you may feel lost or distracted, but if you have your own identity you’ll be able to get back on the right path. Without establishing your own identity, you may easily conform and lose yourself.

3. Build Courage

It takes a great amount of courage when you decide to take the path that goes against the crowd. The reason why the majority of people take the broad path is because it’s easy.

It’s easy to just follow the crowd. It’s more of a challenge when you stay true to yourself and establish your own identity. This challenge of always being yourself takes courage and inner strength. No matter what comes your way, you’ll know how to handle it.

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4. Establish Boundaries

When you are always yourself, you know what your limits are and the boundaries that you have set for yourself. When people cross your boundaries, you will know.

But if you don’t establish boundaries, people may very well walk all over you and take advantage of you. If you are always yourself and you establish boundaries, you are more likely to be aware when people start taking advantage of you.

Create and establish your boundaries.

5. Find Focus and Direction

When you are always yourself, you are more likely to have focus and direction in your life. Imagine someone who is constantly conforming to other people’s expectations, do you think this person has focus and direction? I don’t think so.

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When you stay true to who you are, you are more likely to know the goals you want to accomplish and how to go about accomplishing them. You are able to stay focused and know which direction to take in order for you to accomplish your goals.

No matter what you experience in life, the only person that will always remain constant is you.

More Tips about Staying True to Yourself

Featured photo credit: María Victoria Heredia Reyes via unsplash.com

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