1. You always cancel plans, even if you really want to go.
It could be as little as going on a shopping date with your friends or your mum, and you will be out for just a few hours, but you seem to have canceled it more times than you can remember by making up some lame excuse. In reality, it’s because of your anxiety. I have missed out on countless things because of my anxiety. It definitely stops me from doing what a “normal” 20-year-old should be doing at this age. Before the event, I build myself up for whatever it is by thinking of every single possibility that could happen. Some are far too extreme (which I know) but I still convince myself otherwise. So, by the time the day comes around, I have made up a huge scenario in my head, like how when I get there I am gonna have a major panic attack in front of everyone and make a fool of myself, resulting in me “keeling” over and pretty much dying right there. No wonder I cancel all the time.
2. You feel extremely guilty when you have to cancel on people.
This could be anything — a date, going out for a meal, going to a party, going shopping, going for an interview. It could be literally anything. You beat yourself up about it until you feel ashamed and guilty, especially if it is a regular occurrence. My boyfriend is a lot more outgoing than me; on weekends, when he’s off work, he likes us to go on adventures and spend time together but sometimes (seems to be becoming a lot more regular) I don’t feel like going out and just want to stay at home. This makes me feel really guilty, and like I am holding him back. He assures me it’s OK and that he understands, but I can’t help but beat myself up about it.
3. You constantly doubt yourself every day, and your head is filled with “what ifs.”
Thinking of the worst case scenario in every situation seems like second nature to me. As a person who struggles with health-related anxiety, I know about “what ifs” all too well. I constantly think my headaches are something more serious, which causes more headaches; it’s a vicious cycle which seems to never end. I have been back and forth to my doctors four times about them, and each time they have “reassured” me it’s nothing more than tension due to my anxiety, my mind just doesn’t accept it.
4. You obsess over conversations you have had that day.
This is one of my favorites. It could be literally any conversation you have had with a friend, work colleague, your boss, or even a bus driver. You go over it in your head in detail and convince yourself you sounded or looked stupid when in reality you didn’t. You think about what you should have said or beat yourself up over it, thinking things like, “Why did I say hi like that, they’re gonna think I’m weird.” You think about it until you cringe. We need to stop being so critical of ourselves.
5. You struggle to hold down a job or stay in education.
I think this is personally one of my main struggles. I am now on job number five, I am starting university for the second time around and I am only 20 years old. Each time you “quit” it gets harder and harder to pick yourself back up again, but I am determined to better myself. Since the age of 12 I have wanted to be a nurse, but of course anxiety got in the way of that. I am now working towards helping others who struggle with mental illness, which is one of the reasons why I write – I have a huge heart and love helping others.
6. Things easily get on top of you.
Sound familiar? Oh yes, I have a minor breakdown if my bedroom’s untidy, and I feel like the littlest things suffocate me. I can only deal with things bit and bit, otherwise I feel like everything is crashing down on me.
7. You get agitated easily and have a short temper.
Following on, once things get on top of you (however minor it may be) you easily “snap.” It is usually on those who you love, which leaves you feeling guilty. It feels like it is all one big cycle and there is no way getting out. So, if you didn’t feel bad enough about canceling on people all the time, thinking “what if” in every situation, going over awkward conversations and being jobless, you are now in a mood and snapping on those who you love. Gotta love anxiety.
8. You’re either extremely exhausted or completely wide awake.
… Or both. Personally though, if I am being completely honest, I hardly ever struggle to get to sleep. I am the polar opposite — I struggle to stay awake all day without a nap. I spend most of my day tired and looking forward to bedtime. The only time I struggle to sleep or stay asleep is when I have something major on my mind like an interview, the first day at a new job, an exam or an appointment at the doctors the next day. For anyone who struggles to sleep though, I recommend an app called “Calm.” It has its own sleep section which I find really soothing. Other tips I find helpful are a hot bath before bed, a nice warm drink, or having the fan on (the light breeze and sound of it relaxes me). Opening your window it has a similar effect. I love listening to the rain whilst going to sleep.
9. Some days you really struggle to get out of bed and face the day.
All I can say to that is well done if you got out of bed today. Some days it seems near impossible and all you want to do is climb back in under the duvet with your cat — well, that’s me! I try to avoid sleeping in as it makes it harder for me to get up if it’s already later in the day. I also give myself a task for the next day too, so I do actually have to get up.
10. And finally… you are your own hero.
There is nothing more scary and uncomfortable than fighting a battle inside your own head every single day but still managing to paint a smile on your face. Take each day in your stride. You can do this.
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Unsplash photo via Fade Qu