“You can’t judge a book by its cover” is a popular saying because it is true. In the same way, you can’t know what is going on in someone’s mind by looking at them, or even talking to them each day. Anxiety is the most commonly diagnosed disorder right now, and it is a widespread problem around the world. There are many people walking around, who look like they have normal lives, when they are falling apart on the inside.
If you know someone with anxiety, the number one thing they want you to know is that you can’t fix the problem for them, but that’s ok. It’s enough just to listen to their issues and try to understand what life is like for them. Friendship isn’t about trying to fix the other person; it’s about being there for one another in the good and the bad times. Here are some points that will help you to understand what life is like for people with anxiety:
1. Anxiety Is Relentless
Anxiety does not care about what else is going on in your life right now. It doesn’t care that there has been a death in the family. It doesn’t care that you’ve got too much work to do and don’t have time for it right now. It couldn’t care less that you just want to be happy and live a normal life. Anxiety. Does. Not. Care. It is a committed partner, staying with you til the end.
2. People With Anxiety Can’t Just “Go To The Store”
Doing normal things like going to the grocery store or getting a hair cut do not come easily to people with anxiety. Normally, you would go to the store, pick up what you need and leave without even thinking about it. Normally you would walk into a hair salon, pick out a cut, talk to the stylist, pay at the counter, take a selfie and leave. For people who suffer from anxiety, these everyday activities are not so easy.
It is “normal” for someone with anxiety to suddenly be overcome with self-consciousness while in a store, and spend the entire time worrying that people are looking at them or thinking about them. Or they may not be able to enjoy a shopping experience because they are filled with worry about other things.
And something as simple as a hair appointment can fill an anxiety-ridden mind with dread. The thought of having to conversate with the stylist, choosing the right cut, how much to tip, how to tell the stylist exactly what you want, and what if you have to talk to people while you wait for your appointment! These are just 2 examples of how the “normal” activities in life can be harder for people with anxiety.
3. Anxiety Shows
There are many anxiety symptoms that appear on the inside, but unfortunately, this disorder makes itself known in other ways as well. People with anxiety can have heart palpitations, blushing, sweat, trouble breathing, restless legs, shaking, nausea and vomiting, and many more. The worst part of these symptoms is that other people seeing them only makes your anxiety worse! It’s like a vicious cycle, and even the thought of having someone witness an anxiety attack is enough to make you want to lock the door and stay inside.
4. Stressful Situations Are Even Worse for People With Anxiety
When you suffer from panic attacks when life is going relatively well, stressful situations become a nightmare. Whether it’s financial worries, stress on the job, relationship issues or a bad news from the doctor, anxiety makes any stressful situation much worse. Now, instead of dealing with the stress in a healthy way, you have anxiety piled on top of the stress to deal with.
5. “Be Yourself.” Yeah, Right.
People with anxiety have just as much personality as the next person, but anxiety can override a great sense of humor, a kind heart and a zest for life. “Just be yourself” is great advice for anyone to follow, but for someone who has anxiety, it can be an impossible task. Anxiety works hard to stop you from being yourself. In social situations, when all you want to do is relax and let your personality shine, anxiety shows up and instead of being yourself, you are overcome with baseless fears.
6. Anxiety Clouds Your Thinking
When you suffer from anxiety, you just can’t think clearly about life. Your mind is constantly churning and it never stops. If you need to make a decision, even smallest ones can take a long time to make. Thinking clearly about anything, whether important or not, is just not possible.
7. Sleep Eludes You
Sleep is so necessary for body, mind and soul, and sleep would probably help people with anxiety a lot. Unfortunately, without medication, sleep is something that seems to stay away from anxiety sufferers. There are too many things to think about, troubling anxiety symptoms popping up at inopportune times, and sometimes you just feel too miserable to fall asleep. Thankfully, there are medications that can help, because sleep is insanely important.
8. You Just Want to Feel Normal
Even though the physical symptoms of anxiety, not being able to turn your mind off and the stress are awful things to deal with, the worst part about having anxiety is seeing other people enjoying life and wishing you could just be “normal.” Sadly, many people with anxiety don’t even remember what “normal” feels like, because they have had an anxiety disorder for many years.