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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 January 3, 2020

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

Are you waiting for life events to turn out the way you want so that you can feel more positive about your life? Do you find yourself having pre-conditions to your sense of well-being, thinking that certain things must happen for you to be happier? Do you think there is no way that your life stresses can make you anything other than “stressed out” and that other people just don’t understand?  If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might find yourself lingering in the land of negativity for too long!

The following are some tips to keep positive no matter what comes your way. This post will help you stop looking for what psychologists call “positivity” in all the wrong places!  Here are the ten essential habits of positive people.

1. Positive people don’t confuse quitting with letting go.

Instead of hanging on to ideas, beliefs, and even people that are no longer healthy for them, they trust their judgement to let go of negative forces in their lives.  Especially in terms of relationships, they subscribe to The Relationship Prayer which goes:

 I will grant myself the ability to trust the healthy people in my life … 

To set limits with, or let go of, the negative ones … 

And to have the wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE!

 2.  Positive people don’t just have a good day – they make a good day.

Waiting, hoping and wishing seldom have a place in the vocabulary of positive individuals. Rather, they use strong words that are pro-active and not reactive. Passivity leads to a lack of involvement, while positive people get very involved in constructing their lives. They work to make changes to feel better in tough times rather than wish their feelings away.

3. For the positive person, the past stays in the past.

Good and bad memories alike stay where they belong – in the past where they happened. They don’t spend much time pining for the good ol’ days because they are too busy making new memories now. The negative pulls from the past are used not for self-flagellation or unproductive regret, but rather productive regret where they use lessons learned as stepping stones towards a better future.

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4. Show me a positive person and I can show you a grateful person.

The most positive people are the most grateful people.  They do not focus on the potholes of their lives.  They focus on the pot of gold that awaits them every day, with new smells, sights, feelings and experiences.  They see life as a treasure chest full of wonder.

5. Rather than being stuck in their limitations, positive people are energized by their possibilities.

Optimistic people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.  They are not fooled to think that there is a perfect solution to every problem, and are confident that there are many solutions and possibilities.  They are not afraid to attempt new solutions to old problems, rather than spin their wheels expecting things to be different this time.  They refuse to be like Charlie Brown expecting that this time Lucy will not pull the football from him!

6. Positive people do not let their fears interfere with their lives!

Positive people have observed that those who are defined and pulled back by their fears never really truly live a full life. While proceeding with appropriate caution, they do not let fear keep them from trying new things. They realize that even failures are necessary steps for a successful life. They have confidence that they can get back up when they are knocked down by life events or their own mistakes, due to a strong belief in their personal resilience.

7. Positive people smile a lot!

When you feel positive on the inside it is like you are smiling from within, and these smiles are contagious. Furthermore, the more others are with positive people, the more they tend to smile too! They see the lightness in life, and have a sense of humor even when it is about themselves. Positive people have a high degree of self-respect, but refuse to take themselves too seriously!

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8. People who are positive are great communicators.

They realize that assertive, confident communication is the only way to connect with others in everyday life.  They avoid judgmental, angry interchanges, and do not let someone else’s blow up give them a reason to react in kind. Rather, they express themselves with tact and finesse.  They also refuse to be non-assertive and let people push them around. They refuse to own problems that belong to someone else.

9. Positive people realize that if you live long enough, there are times for great pain and sadness.

One of the most common misperceptions about positive people is that to be positive, you must always be happy. This can not be further from the truth. Anyone who has any depth at all is certainly not happy all the time.  Being sad, angry, disappointed are all essential emotions in life. How else would you ever develop empathy for others if you lived a life of denial and shallow emotions? Positive people do not run from the gamut of emotions, and accept that part of the healing process is to allow themselves to experience all types of feelings, not only the happy ones. A positive person always holds the hope that there is light at the end of the darkness.  

10. Positive person are empowered people – they refuse to blame others and are not victims in life.

Positive people seek the help and support of others who are supportive and safe.They limit interactions with those who are toxic in any manner, even if it comes to legal action and physical estrangement such as in the case of abuse. They have identified their own basic human rights, and they respect themselves too much to play the part of a victim. There is no place for holding grudges with a positive mindset. Forgiveness helps positive people become better, not bitter.

How about you?  How many habits of positive people do you personally find in yourself?  If you lack even a few of these 10 essential habits, you might find that the expected treasure at the end of the rainbow was not all that it was cracked up to be. How could it — if you keep on bringing a negative attitude around?

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I wish you well in keeping positive, because as we all know, there is certainly nothing positive about being negative!

Featured photo credit: Janaína Castelo Branco via flickr.com

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