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When People Tell You You Don’t 'Seem' Like Someone With an Anxiety Disorder


I recently read this post about what someone with bipolar disorder looks like, and it got me to thinking about my own anxiety. How does someone who has generalized anxiety disorder “seem”?

I commonly get the “you have such a calm demeanor” and “you have a nice soft voice” and “you’re so sweet.” So, yes, I accept the compliments with a smile and a nod because outwardly they are very true. But the hidden part, the part that only comes out to those who are closest to me, is still there; ready to rear its head any moment. That side includes intense irritability, anger, frustration, nervousness, upset stomach, shaking, rapid heart rate, questioning, over-analyzing, overthinking, over-everything. It craves silence, stillness, no touching — or the exact opposite; it wants hugs and words of reassurance, both in abundance. These are the “things” that clash and collide in my head as it tries to sort out the what and the why of my own mind. That is part of what some people see when they truly see me. Am I proud of it? Nope. Do I wish I could rewire my own brain and cut out that glitch? Of course I do. But I also know that if I did that, then I wouldn’t fully be the me that my friends and family also love.

Everyone has issues, whether it’s anxiety related or otherwise. They are part of what makes us human. My therapist always reminds me that “we are human beings, not human doings.” Yes, we do what we have to do to cope with what life throws us be it anxiety attacks, setbacks and yes, even progressive strides forward! We are being with our own minds, letting it do what it needs to do to make you, you.

So when someone tells you that you don’t “seem” like someone who has a mental illness, tell them it’s part of what makes you who you are. And to those who are closest to you, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Friendships run deep and the lasting ones will withstand the good, the bad and the “what we wish we didn’t have to cope with but we do.”

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