20 Things People With Anxiety Secretly Want Their Bosses to Know



As much as we’d all like to check our problems at the door when we go to work, some issues — especially anxiety — carry over into the workplace. It’s hard to deal with anxiety when you’re trying to be a “professional” version of yourself, and even harder if you have a boss who doesn’t understand.

So, we asked our Mighty community to tell us what they secretly wish their boss knew about working with anxiety.

To any bosses out there, here’s what your workers with anxiety want you to know: 

1. “Sometimes I just need a minute to pull myself together.”

Image: Man with glasses glances up at a clock. Text reads, "Sometimes I just need a minute to pull myself together."

2. “I am not my illness — I have a lot more to offer.”

3. “I’m doing my best.”

4. “I may be flushed, jittery or not talkative; I may need a moment away from my desk until meds kick in. It’s not all about you.”

5. “Sometimes I take on more than I can handle because it’s hard to say ‘no.’ And because I can’t bear to not complete a task and do it well, I successfully finish it. All the while, they’ve got no idea I had major anxiety attacks throughout the entire assignment.”

Image: Man lays his head on a computer, frustrated. White swirls are around his head. Text reads: "Sometimes I take on more than I can handle because it's hard to say 'no.'

6. “I would’ve loved a boss who asked, ‘How can we help? Is there anything we can do to make it easier for you to do your work?’”

7. “I don’t have much control over my anxiety. I can’t necessarily predict when it’s going to be manageable or when it’s going to be bad. It’s not a switch I can turn on and off.”

8. “I wish my boss could see how much I struggle to get out of the house. I wonder how I get to work at all… never mind on time.”

Image: Black and white latte on a plate with a spoon. Text reads: "I wish my boss could see much I struggle to get out of the house."

9. “Even though I may look calm or like I’m coping with everything well, there’s sometimes an iceberg of a storm brewing underneath. My ability levels vary day to day, and when my anxiety is stronger I can feel the layers of a storm build. Talk to me privately to learn more about how it affects me and understand me, so we can both mitigate negative responses or situations.”

10. “My previous boss once told me anxiety was a personal issue to only have at home. I laughed and said, ‘It’s not a coat. I can’t just check it at the door.’ It was a huge decision to disclose my mental health to my employer. Some days I wish I hadn’t, but overall I’m glad I did because they knew something was going on.”

11. “My need to control my anxiety may come out in ways that are beneficial to you. For example, my need to review a document several times before submitting could been seen as ‘attention to detail.’ Or my need to plan and control my schedule may cause my productivity to be higher than others’.”

12. “Don’t tell me, ‘Hey, I need to talk with you at the end of the day.’ I will literally sit in the office for hours thinking of all the reasons I’m about to get fired. If you want to have a conversation with me, just start the conversation. Please, spare me the torture.”

A woman in a light blue blazer holds her head in her hands. Text: "Please don't tell me, 'Hey, I need to talk with you at the end of the day.' I will literally sit in the office for hours thinking of all the reasons I'm about to get fired.'"

13.Despite my anxiety, I can perform my job to excellent standards. I just require certain accommodations.”

14. “I procrastinate at times because the thought of having one more thing to think about exhausts me.”

15. “Please: show compassion — not judgment. Show concern — not criticism. Know I need extra space and time, but I’m an extremely hard worker, a master problem solver and I care more than you could possibly know.”

16. “Putting on my social interaction costume every day takes a great deal of effort. I’m like a superhero, fighting battles and then going into seclusion.”

Image: Close-up of a man standing in a suit with a blue tie. Text reads: "Putting on my social interaction costume every day takes a great deal of effort."

17. “Lack of eye contact does not mean I’m not honest or interested. I’m most likely overwhelmed and regulating.”

18. “Sometimes I just need a little time and space to process whatever’s happening and calm myself down.”

19. “I overthink and practice every scenario and response. I need to know you understand my work means a lot to me.”

20. “My anxiety may inhibit me from diving right into a project, so my work timeline may look very different from yours. Trust that the work will get done.”

Image: Man sits at his desk in a gray suit. Text reads: "My anxiety may inhibit me from diving right into a project, so my work timeline may look very different from yours. Trust that the work will get done."

*Answers have been edited and shortened. 


 20 Things People With Anxiety Secretly Want Their Bosses to Know

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To the Blue-Haired Woman Who Noticed I Needed Help


Thirteen years ago, I was in college. I’d been struggling with worsening depression and anxiety, and after a conversation that left me very hurt, all I could think about was how much I needed to get away.

I kind of went into a trance. My mind was blank as I walked across town to a park. It was blank as I sat on the edge of a five-foot concrete wall that had a creek running along the bottom. When my sandal fell into the creek, I automatically jumped down to get it. And when I realized I couldn’t climb back up the wall, I picked a direction and started wading.

I walked and walked, long after I could have climbed out of the creek. The water went up to my thighs at one point, and I lost both sandals to the rocks somewhere along the way. It was only when the light started to change and I realized the afternoon was almost gone. I started to come out of my trance. I climbed the bank and came out on the side of a highway. I had no cell phone and no idea where I was by this point, so I picked a direction and started walking along the shoulder. My pants were soaked and I had no shoes. I didn’t even know what I’d do when I eventually got somewhere; none of my friends had cars, so I would be forced to call someone at the school to come get me. At the time, I wasn’t supposed to go outside a five-mile radius from campus, so I wasn’t sure what kind of punishment I might face. That’s if I even got someone on the phone who could help me.

A while later, a car pulled over. Inside was a couple that was probably in their late 20s and their child. The woman, the driver, leaned over to the passenger window and asked if I was OK. I told her that I went walking and now I was lost. She asked where I was going, and I told her I needed to get back to campus. She told me that there was nothing the way I was going for another four miles, and she offered me a ride.

I accepted. The woman had Smurf-blue hair, several piercings and the car was completely permeated with cigarette smoke. As she drove me back to campus, she showed me amazing kindness and grace. She asked what happened to me. I told her quite honestly that I wasn’t really sure; I’d just gone for a walk and it somehow turned out this way. She didn’t judge or push me. She just listened to what I had to say and told me it would be OK. She asked if she should call anyone for me or if I needed any other help. When she dropped me off at my dorm, she told me her name was Michelle and gave me her number. She told me to give her a call, “…if you ever go walking again.”

Thirteen years later, I still remember Michelle’s kindness. I could have been hit by a car. I could have been picked up by someone with less kind intentions. I could have faced disciplinary action for being so far off campus. And Michelle not only stopped to help someone in trouble, but also remained calm, didn’t judge and tried to make sure help was available to me in the future.

Michelle’s kindness showed me that someone doesn’t need to understand what you’re going through to be helpful. All someone needs is a sympathetic, non-judgmental ear and a willingness to help. It also helped me understand I wasn’t alone. With mental illness, it’s easy to feel like you’re invisible, that no one understands what you’re going through or even realizes you’re in trouble. The amazing thing about the kindness of a stranger, I think, is that someone cared enough to notice I needed help. And that made a world of difference.

You’ll probably never read this Michelle, but thank you for what you did for me.


If You Live With Anxiety, This Jewelry Is Designed for You


If you’re a fidgeter, foot-shaker, nail-biter or nervous tapper, British designer Charlotte Garnett has a jewelry collection for your anxiety-driven needs.

The idea was inspired by her own experience with anxiety, which started during her second year at Central St. Martins, an art school in London. Her work had always been autobiographical, exploring the functionality of jewelry.

“I decided that instead of allowing [anxiety] to be an obstacle in my final year, I would use my understanding of it to create a sincere response to my experience that had the potential to help myself and my anxious friends who inspired me,” Garnett told The Mighty in an email.

Her collection, called “Cure for the Itch,” is made up of three sub-collections, each designed to offer a personalized solution for repetitive, anxiety-driven actions like habitual fiddling or chain smoking. “The pieces are intended to be used as grounding tools to promote mindfulness and provide subtle alternatives to existing negative habits (such as your nail biting!) whilst maintaining a sense of fun and playfulness in their use,” Garnett said.

She started with six “Pocket Pebbles,” handheld objects meant to be kept in a person’s pocket and used discreetly to manage day-to-day anxieties. Each of the six shapes is designed to suit a different type of fiddling action. “By being able to use them in the pocket during daily life, one can avoid the distraction and embarrassment of subconscious nervous habits,” Garnett said.

Garnett’s “Pocket Pebbles”
Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 3.15.54 PM
Garnett’s “Pocket Pebbles”
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Garnett’s “Pocket Pebbles”

She also created “Spinner Rings.” With the appearance of a cocktail ring, they’re a “fun, wearable solution for faster twiddling and flicking actions.”

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 2.47.52 PM
“Spinner Rings”
Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 3.25.39 PM
“Spinner Rings”

The last piece, “Fiddle Sticks,” were specifically designed for nervous smokers. “The piece is reminiscent of a cigarette packet, containing six fiddling sticks, which invite the wearer to occupy their fingers, instead of indulging in their bad habit,” Garnett said.

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 3.28.47 PM
“Fiddle Sticks”

She hopes the pieces help break down the taboo around publicly managing mental health issues. “Mental illness does not have to be treated as something terrible and shameful that should only be discussed in a serious doctors office,” she said, emphasizing that even those who haven’t been diagnosed with a mental illness could benefit from anxiety-reducing tools. “Hopefully this helps to illustrate that there aren’t solid lines between ‘ill’ and ‘normal’ — a concept that perpetuates the stigma surrounding mental wellbeing.”

Feedback about the collection has been positive.

“As the designer, the most enjoyable part of this collection is watching people use the objects in their own instinctive ways,” Garnett said. “The main goal is to create completely original ideas and make progressive contributions to art, jewelry, science or society, so I am glad that my work so far has been perceived to contribute a new angle on jewelry.”

The price of each piece is available upon request.



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37 Secret New Year's Resolutions From People With Anxiety


Let’s be real — the new year doesn’t really mean you’ll magically transform into a “new you.” We wouldn’t want that, anyway. The “old you” has some fantastic qualities. But like any time-marker, New Year’s can be a period to reflect on your personal goals and where you want to be in the future.

And if this New Year’s your resolution is about taking better care of yourself or better managing your anxiety, there’s nothing wrong with that.

We asked people in our Mighty community who live with anxiety to tell us a New Year’s resolution they wouldn’t say out loud.

Here’s what they’re hoping for next year:

1. “To get out of my damn head.”

"To get out of my damn head."

2. “I want to work on phone anxiety so I can fix my insurance issue and seek professional help.”

3. “To be able to express myself when I’m angry or hurt or need help.”

4. “I want to stop being my own worst critic. I resolve to be confident and proud of who I am and love the woman I see in the mirror.”

5. “To no longer feel ashamed or let those around me shame me for my illness.”

6. “To know my own voice in a deeper and more compassionate way, uncovering all the layers that anxiety and depression throw over me to shield me from the world. 2016 is my year for reclaiming my life and learning to live again, putting past traumas behind me and stepping boldly into the new.”


'To know my own voice in a deeper and more compassionate way, uncovering all the layers that anxiety and depression throw over me to shield me from the world.'

7. “To quit thinking about how everything could go wrong and just enjoy life for a change.”

8. “To just be still… so I can find peace again”

9. “To be able to be alone with my own mind for just five minutes without flipping through all the bad things that could possibly happen or be happening.”

10. “To be myself again. To discover myself apart from my anxiety.”

'To be myself again. To discover myself apart from my anxiety.'

11. “To not feel like a failure or a burden to people”

12. “To do at least one thing I’m afraid of each day. Your life begins when you reach beyond your comfort zone. Being paralyzed from fear will only enslave us within our own prison cells, our minds.”

13. “To not allow the behavior of others to determine my self-worth.”

14. “To not be in my head so much, to not overthink everything I say and do and to not hate myself.”

15. “I will not judge myself for my anxiety disorder; it is not a sign of weakness.”

'I will not judge myself for my anxiety disorder; it is not a sign of weakness.'

16. “To be able to control my anxiety better and to help my family understand what I’m going through so they don’t feel left in the dark.”

17. “To value myself.”

18. “I want to do things in 2016 because I want to, and not have to offer any other explanation.”

19. “To slowly overcome my fear of being in public places alone. I struggle with leaving the house, going in stores and most public places. I will overcome.”

20. “To challenge the negative voices in my head.”

'To challenge the negative voices in my head.'

21. “For inner peace.”

22. “One setback doesn’t make a relapse. It means I need to give myself a break. I need to work on believing that.”

23. “To learn to trust and let go. Stop overthinking things and embrace each moment, one at a time.”

24. “To leave the house more.”

'To leave the house more.'

25. “To not allow other people’s assumptions about my health and recovery dictate my victories or losses!”

26. “To be patient and kind with myself when my brain goes into a silly, anxious state.”

27. “To stop picking at my eyebrows when the breathing techniques aren’t working.”

28. “Care, of course. But stop caring so much.”

'Care, of course. But stop caring so much.'

29. “I want to be able to better handle the unexpected in 2016 and believe that I’m worth it.”

30. “To give myself a voice, literally and metaphorically — to say what I mean and mean what I say when I express myself.”

31. “I will get brave enough to apply for jobs in the field of work I went to school for.”

32. “To do the one thing my panic attacks have not allowed me to do in years: go to the grocery store alone on a Saturday morning.

33. “I will make the choice to be my own cheerleader.”

'I will make the choice to be my own cheerleader.'

34. “To be better, as well as more open with my loved ones, at vocalizing my real (and probably only perceived) anxiety. The cloud worsens and deepens and ultimately wins when kept quiet. Love and acceptance will set us free.”

35. “To try to accept myself and all my problems. To accept that I was born this way, it’s not a punishment for something I’ve done wrong and it doesn’t make me less of a person. I deserve love, and I need to love myself first.”

36. “To be vulnerable and open about the mental health aspects of my physical chronic illness, especially as I’m going through a very serious and scary flare-up, instead of joking off or minimizing how I’m feeling to others.”

37. “I need to start believing my existence was never meant to be an apology.”

'I need to start believing my existence was never meant to be an apology.'

*Some responses have been edited and shortened for brevity.

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An Anxious Girl’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays


Hello fellow adventurers,

It’s that wonderful time of the year: families are gathering, cookies are being baked and presents are being wrapped. It’s also a time of great anxiety and stress. Holidays tend to become hectic and family gatherings can be highly unpredictable, elevating the anxiety levels of everyone involved. I’m excited to see my family, but just thinking about and anticipating the next few days has put me into a constant state of anxiety.

There are several things I’ll be doing to combat my anxiety this Christmas. Here is “An Anxious Girl’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays”:

Bring something to keep your hands busy. When my anxiety gets bad, I start to get fidgety. This usually translates to me playing with my hair and ultimately pulling it out (this is called trichotillomania). I’ll be carrying a small amount of Play-Doh with me to family gatherings. It’s easy to conceal and very effective. An alternative would be hair ties or rubber bands, however I usually end up breaking them, thus rendering them useless.

Find an isolated spot. Wherever you are, there’s a place you can go to be alone for a few minutes. If you’re at a relative’s house: ask them before the party gets started if there’s a room you can sit in away from everyone. That way, when your anxiety becomes hard to handle, you can just slip away quietly and come back when you’re ready.

Walk away from obnoxious people. I guarantee we’re all going to encounter that one family member, friend or stranger who is either drunk or just obnoxious by nature. These people are hard to get away from because they usually have booming voices that carry their political/social/whatever nonsense throughout the room. Avoid these people like they’re the plague.

Repeat a mantra to yourself. I don’t mean, “It’s almost over,” but rather something like, “I can do this,” or “I’m doing great” or “Everything is OK.” Mantras can be quite helpful in relieving anxiety and getting you through a tough situation.

Finally, remember how awesome you are. It doesn’t matter how successful so-and-so relative is or how excited a friend is because they just got engaged. Remember that they are also flawed and could be faking it. Nobody goes to a party and complains about all of their issues, they go and they brag about what positive things have occurred.


As my great friend S.W. says, “You are your own unique person, and that in itself is amazing. People don’t need to know how much you had to push yourself just to sit down at the table and stay there. You know that you have succeeded, and in the end that’s all that matters.”

What techniques do you use to get yourselves through the holidays? Let me know!

Have a safe and happy holiday!

Until next time,

~ K.D.

Follow this journey on Adventures of Shy Girl.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images


On the First Day of Christmas My Anxiety Gave to Me…


The holidays are a busy time of year — and my anxiety doesn’t like the hustle and bustle. The thought of the big one (Christmas) coming up makes me nervous. I used to love Christmas. Presents, family, an abundance of food and a guaranteed day off of school or work. Those are the ingredients to the type of Christmas I used to love.

So in the spirit of the holidays, here are five wonderful “gifts” my anxiety now gives me on Christmas.

1. The pressure of finding the “perfect” gift.

I don’t give people gifts. It’s not because I don’t want to get my loved ones anything, but the stress of finding the “perfect” gift is something I choose to avoid. I do have an easy out when all else fails: gift cards! But even gift cards are looked down upon.

2. Eating with an audience.

Eating with a large group of people is not ideal. Crowds bring out my “what if” thoughts. What if I choke? What if the food makes me sick? What if I hate the food, but feel guilty about not eating it? Having “what if” thoughts in front of a large group of people is a terrifying possibility. Also, one of the side effects of my anxiety is lack of appetite. How do I explain that to a family member who has spent all day cooking a delicious meal? “I can’t enjoy the food you worked on for hours because of anxiety. Sorry.”

3. Unsolicited family therapy sessions.

Talking to the family I see once a year presents multiple challenges. The biggest problem is knowing I’m faking it. I’m supposed to be interested in their lives, but, and this sounds mean, I’m not. Faking conversation makes me squirm. It’s even worse with the family members who know about my anxiety, but have no idea what I go through on a daily basis. Inevitably, they’ll ask me how I’m doing. If I say I panic frequently and I’m afraid to leave my house, they look at me like I’m crazy. Or, and this is worse, they offer unsolicited advice they swear helped someone they knew who had the same problem. I appreciate their assistance, but sometimes amateur psychology can do more harm than good.


4. Leaving my safe place.

Having Christmas away from home is horrible on so many levels. My home is my safe place. I have a routine here. I have a place to go whenever I need time to myself. I don’t have a safe place at my relatives’ house. When I panic, I have to scramble for a place to hide. If my life was a book, I would tear this chapter out and rip it to pieces. Christmas is supposed to be a time of happiness, so knowing I have to leave home is a direct blow to my comfort.

5. Driving anxiety.

This coincides with #4. Driving in a car for long distances is something I avoid unless it’s completely necessary. My first panic attack occurred in a car. I feel trapped, so the entire time I’m driving I’m going through a rollercoaster of emotions. Much like eating in groups, the car brings out so many “what ifs.” What if I panic in the middle of nowhere? Who will save me? What if I get stuck in a tunnel?

Then, after all those torturous thoughts, I get the pleasure of dragging my anxiety-drained body into a house full of bright and cheerful people. I imagine them looking at me like I’m a complete mess. Prolonged anxiety, like what happens after driving for a long time, makes me look ill. My skin is clammy and pale, and my eyes become bloodshot. This isn’t exactly the look I’m going for when visiting family.

Christmas has all the makings of being an incredibly positive time of year. There’s unselfish giving, the warmth of families reconnecting and, if you’re lucky, a gift or two. The fact that anxiety has the power to get in the way of that truly positive event is deflating.

So, if you notice someone at your Christmas gathering who doesn’t seem to be enjoying themselves as much as everyone else, give them some private attention. I know when I’m anxious, even though I look like I don’t want to talk, all I need is someone to pull me away from myself. Who better to help you through your anxiety than a loved one? Sure, they may not have all the answers, but at least they’re willing to try. For someone with anxiety, knowing we’re not alone in this is the best gift we can receive. Your offer to chat may be turned away, but your invitation may open up a conversation at a later time.

Follow this journey on We Are All Scared.

The Mighty is asking the following: As someone who lives with — or has a loved one with — a mental illness, what’s one thing that’s particularly challenging around the holidays? Why? What advice would give someone going through similar challenges? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.


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