31 Secrets of People Who Live With Anxiety

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Anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness in America, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. The condition affects 40 million adults in the United States. That’s 18 percent of the U.S. population.

Despite this, people with anxiety disorders still live with a stigma often associated with invisible conditions. So we asked our readers with anxiety what they wished the world could understand about it. This is what they had to say.

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1. “I do realize the things I worry about are ridiculous. Even though I’m aware, I can’t just stop it.” — Erika Strojny Myers

2. “I might look like I’m doing nothing, but in my head I’m quite busy.” — Diane Kim

3. “I don’t always know why I’m anxious.” — Teri-Marie Harrison

4. “It’s paralyzing.” — Marlene Pickering

meme that says it's paralyzing

5. “I don’t just ‘get nervous.’ Heck, half the time I’m not even nervous when I’m having a panic attack — I’m anxious. Sometimes it’s for no reason I can identify. When I’m anxious and nervous I recognize some of it is irrational, but I can’t just snap out of it. My mind and body aren’t cooperating with reason.” — Alex Wickham

6. “I’m not being ridiculous or dramatic.” — Melissa Kapuszcak

7. “We don’t need someone to look at us like we’re crazy. We need someone to be compassionate.” — Kristen Cunningham

8. “I don’t want to feel this way.” — Jenny Genoway

meme that says i don't want to feel this way

9. “After a hectic day, especially after being in crowds or dealing directly with multiple people, I have a ‘people hangover’ the next day. I need alone time to reboot from all the energy used. I have to rest and reset my mind. If I don’t, I will become bone-tired, overwhelmed and moody.” — Lisa Shuey

10. “It’s totally possible to have social anxiety and be a raging extrovert.” — May Daonna

meme that says it's totally possible to have social anxiety and be a raging extrovert

11. “You can’t just stop worrying. There is no ‘on’ or ‘off’ switch.” — Kim Derrick-Bené

12. “Even though we look OK on the outside, our anxiety is wreaking havoc on our insides.” — Cynthia Adams McGrath

13.  “I’m being attacked by something I can’t escape from.” —  Sherri Paricio Bornhoft

meme that says i'm being attacked by something i can't escape from

14. “No matter how irrational I may sound, it’s real to me.” — Lorri Smith

15. “Saying, ‘you will be fine’ doesn’t help.” — Thea Baker

16. “It’s not a choice. You don’t choose to have anxiety. It chooses you.” — Patricia Lynn

meme that says it's not a choice. you don't choose to have anxiety. it chooses you.

17. “It’s sometimes so exhausting and distracting that I may be forgetful or unproductive, but it’s not me trying to be thoughtless, lazy or make excuses.” — Anna Powers

18. “It’s real. I’m not overreacting.” — Kimberly Warren

meme that says it's real. i'm not overreacting.

19. “Anxiety [is] an illness. You can’t just get over mental illness.” — Heather Morello

20. “Anxiety and worrying are not the same things.” — Amy Hrynyk

21. “Prayer doesn’t make it disappear.” — Kayla Gosse

22. “Just because I can’t explain the feelings causing my anxiety, doesn’t make them less valid.” — Lauren Elizabeth

meme that says just because i can't explain the feeling causing my anxiety doesn't make them less valid.

23. “I’m not crazy.” — Peggy Hess

24. “All the logic in the world won’t keep my heart from hammering in my chest.” — Rebecca V Cowcill

25. “Even the simplest tasks can be overwhelming at times.” — Rhonda Bodfield

meme that says even the simplest tasks can be overwhelming at times

26. “It’s uncontrollable.” — Asia Pope

27. “Just because you don’t understand doesn’t mean my fears aren’t real.” — Vicki Happ

meme that says just because you don't understand doesn't mean my fears aren't real.

28. “It feels as if the weight of the world is on your shoulders. You feel suffocated.” — Danielle Nicole Box

29. “I’m not doing it for attention.” — Georgia Tsaganis Johnson

meme that says i'm not doing it for attention

30. “The smallest things can set me off. The more trapped I feel, the worse off I am. Personal space will always make me feel better.” — Manda Ree

31. “My mind is my enemy, so I need you on my side. Sometimes I even need you to fight alongside me.” — Erin Farmer-Perrine

meme that says my mind is my enemy, so i need you on my side. sometimes i even need you to fight alongside me.

What would you add? Tell us in the comments below. 

*Some answers have been shortened and/or edited.

RELATED: I Have OCD. This Is What It’s Like to Be in My Mind for 3 Minutes.

Do you have a story about your experience with mental illness? We want to hear it. Please send it to [email protected] and include a photo for the story, a photo of yourself and a 1-2 sentence bio. More info here. Thanks!

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