What It's Really Like to Have Concealed Anxiety
I always keep my worries hidden. I mean, how do you explain to someone the conundrum of loving people and needing to be surrounded by people to be happy, but also that my deepest triggers are usually social situations? And those panic attacks? The only thing more terrifying than a panic attack is trying to explain to people what a panic attack feels like. The symptoms — a racing mind, heart and difficulty breathing — can make you feel like you’re going to faint, lose your mind. And die. Really fun. For a long time I didn’t even know what I was going through was a panic attack and I was going to be just fine.
People are puzzled by me — I come across as a perplexing mix of outgoing but introverted, very social but rarely out. Open, but selective on whom I’m open with. I connect with people easily but can only handle a few close friends who I share my whole world with. My character is bold, outgoing, my sharp tongue can get me into trouble, and I rarely care, but I can be mind-numbingly introspective too, sometimes even the smallest things can stress me out and override my nerves.
Dating is hard. How am I supposed to explain that I’m not a jealous, insecure freak, I just think about everything? A lot.
Me: OK, just let it go, don’t escalate it, don’t say shit. It won’t end well. Pick your battles. It’s not worth it. Let. It. Go.
Anxiety: Sooo I was looking through your Facebook page and…
My anxiety doesn’t care I am in a relationship with a boy who makes me laugh, looks at me like I’m the most beautiful girl in the world and treats me better than any other boy has. Anxiety also doesn’t care about how many things I have achieved, how many compliments I get or how many people I connect with. I will still assume I’m disliked. While this is annoying, it also keeps me pretty grounded and unpretentious at the same time.
Ironically, my anxiety also often keeps me moving forward. I’m always gripped by the feeling that there’s more I should be, or could be, doing with my life — and while this is stressful, it also keeps me in check. I am very driven, and my flaws in chemistry actually make me highly intuitive — I’m often hyper-conscious of what’s going on around me. People actually come to me when they’re stressed because I’m a great problem-solver — I mean c’mon, the billions of hours I spend thinking has to count for something.
Never let anxiety fool you into thinking you’re not strong enough for something. Never let your anxiety fool you into thinking you can’t achieve your biggest dreams. Never let anxiety convince you you’re not loved or that there’s something wrong with you. Never let anxiety fool you into thinking this is how you will be for the rest of your life, it gets a lot better.
You will fall in love with yourself regardless of your most uncomfortable state, you will learn to love your demons you can’t stand. You will learn to love your edges, all your roughness and you will one day see the perfection in all your imperfections.
Follow this journey on annabash.com.
The Mighty is asking the following: Tell us a story about a time you encountered a commonly held misconception about your mental illness. How did you react, and what do you want to tell people who hold his misconception? 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.