47 'Little Signs' You're Recovering From Anxiety
We talk a lot about what it’s like to be in the throes of anxiety — the panic attacks, racing heart, spiraling thoughts, overwhelming fear and sometimes, irrationality. But seldom do we talk about what being “in recovery” for anxiety looks like, or what it even means. This can leave many people wondering what signs to look for when their own anxiety starts to lessen.
Just like anxiety, recovery is so personal to each person struggling. That is why we asked our Mighty mental health community living with anxiety to tell us some “little signs” that let them know they are recovering. Because talking about recovery is just as important as talking about the symptoms.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. “When my loved ones tell me the sparkle in my eyes are back, even if it’s for a day; and on that day, I feel. I feel the things that have been missing, things I didn’t even realize weren’t there anymore.” — Courtenay Ambrose
2. “Coming out from social withdrawal. When anxiety hits hard, I sometimes close off and shut people out. I get edgy and easily overwhelmed during episodes. When I find myself actively seeking out and talking to people in my life again, it means I am doing better. Cleaning my important personal spaces and being productive are also signs of improvement.” — Taziana B.
3. “I have energy again! And it takes me by surprise, like a spring in my step and a confident stride. A smile across my face is real and relaxed. I feel brave.” — Catherine C.
4. “When I can let my husband really kiss me, and I can feel the butterflies because my brain has room for them to fly.” — Brittney L.
5. “I feel. I feel more emotions than just panic or hyper-focus. It can mean a genuine, therapeutic deep down cry, or a day full of seamless activity. It presents as sitting with my children and not noticing the mess we are making and just enjoying the moment. As well as acknowledging that I am feeling in that moment and not on survival autopilot.” — Brianna J.
6. “I find myself seeming happier. I’m smiling. I’m actually enjoying things, even if it’s as simple as turning on the TV or listening to conversations my family has amongst themselves. Also I have noticed I offer to do things for people and I don’t regret it after I say it.” — Katelyn R.
7. “I don’t feel a surge of panic when my phone rings.” — Mark R.
8. “I’m actually hungry. My anxiety causes severe appetite loss and nausea and can make food seem repulsive, so feeling hungry and being able to enjoy food is a little thing I appreciate literally every day.” — Gwendolyn R.
9. “I don’t find myself worrying that someone is mad, or I let someone down or messed up. It’s draining to feel that way and it takes a huge toll on my confidence and abilities.” — Shanzy C.
10. “When I’m able to reflect back on whatever triggered my anxiety and I don’t feel tense or guilty anymore. It helps to remind me that I am bigger than whatever I am facing and that it will pass as always.” — Alihanra G.
11. “I write out everything I need to accomplish on different days of the week. When I get tasks and errands finished and physically cross them out I know I’m getting better this time around.” — Chezaraye A.
12. “I can be in a crowded place and I don’t feel the dreaded panic kicking in. And when my toilet habits are back to normal — anxiety bowel movements are not fun!” — Amy B.
13. “I don’t notice my heart beating. Weird, I know. But I’ve always checked my pulse. Constantly. If it was elevated, I would panic. Now, with the help of medications, I am OK. I don’t obsess over my heart rate anymore.” — Bethany T.
14. “My muscles seem to relax. My breathing gets better. And my heart stops racing” — Harry C.
15. “Waking up in the morning feeling peaceful and calm, instead of being anxious and filled with fear.” — Jasna Z.
16. “I chose my clothes based on what I want, not on what I can use to make myself disappear. I take my hands out of my pockets. I can concentrate again. I sing under my breath.” — Caitlin M.
17. “I pick myself up from the floor or bed, wipe my tears, wash my face and put on music to dance to after an episode. Music and dancing are my gateways. I buy headphones monthly since I listen to my music very loud. It helps.” — Andrea V.
18. “I don’t count the hours until bedtime. I’m content with my day and have ambition to be a better version of myself without fear, worry and doubt.” — Holly R.
19. “Not picking at my skin. When I feel anxious, I’m always picking. When I’m doing better, I leave it alone.” — Samantha M.
20. “I don’t have to rely on my medications. I feel a sense of reality and knowing. Getting dressed and going out is much easier now because that overwhelming thought of fear isn’t all that is there. I smile a lot more too. After living with anxiety for so many years, I’m actually now feeling that sense of being like I’m really apart of life. And I hope it gets better from here.” — Olivia E.
21. “I actually sleep through the night. Even with medication, if my anxiety is acting up, I’ll wake up 3 a.m. on the dot with my heart hammering in my chest. After months of this happening, I was started on new meds and went to the therapist more. I finally realized what a full night’s rest felt like.” — Louise W.
22. “When I stop screening my phone calls, begin returning emails and text people back in a reasonable amount of time. Open communication is the first thing to go when I feel anxious, so by moving past my avoidance and facing others in the moment, I know I’m getting better.” — Kylie B.
23. “When my body no longer feels heavy and I’m not as irritable with people.” — Amanda F.
24. “When something that is normally a trigger occurs and I do that mental grimace in preparation for the panic attack (chest tightening, sweaty palms, heart beat increase), yet, nothing happens. Ten minutes, 20 minutes and then eventually an hour go by and I’m still OK. I’m still alive, I’m not drowning. The trigger didn’t trigger me. This is when I know I’m starting to heal and fight back.” — Deanna V.
25. “I can dream again. When I’m having an episode I find that I can’t dream, but when I get a bit better I can.” — Cara H.
26. “When I’m laughing again and I’m able to say, “You’re OK.” There’s a sense of relief I feel when the anxiety passes. It feels like I’m floating sometimes.” — Em R.
27. “When I walk out into the hallway of my apartment building without listening for doors or people before walking out the door. When I can walk past someone without averting my gaze. When I can talk to someone without talking so fast they have to tell me to slow down and repeat myself. When I have to make a phone call and don’t panic. When I can actually see my surroundings with no detachment. When I can focus on watching a movie without missing 90 percent of it because I was lost in thought.” — Julie S.
28. “When my boyfriend not texting me back doesn’t cause me to think he’s cheating on me.” — Domenique M.
29. “I don’t hide in bed when people knock on my door, I might even open the door to the postman. And I start singing little made-up songs around the house, because I’ve relaxed enough that part of my brain can stop focussing on fear and can be in the moment, and it can even start to remember having a sense of humor.” — Chloe B.
30. “Turning lights back on at night. When my anxiety is bad, I just sit numbly on the coach. When it gets dark, regardless if the curtains are open or closed, I don’t get up to turn the lights on. But when I’m feeling better, I realize the sun has set and make an effort to get up to turn lights on without having to think about it.” — Janina J.
31. “When I can go into a store and browse the shelves without getting annoyed or upset with the floor staff asking, ‘Do you need help finding anything?’ It is such a simple question, but when my anxiety is in high gear, talking to anyone sets me on edge, and that question makes me feel silly, embarrassed and like I must look shady — a typical ‘jump to conclusions’ anxiety thoughts” — Crystal M.
32. “Using an on ramp to the highway without a rush of nausea. Driving on said highway quietly, without having to sing along to the radio to keep my breathing steady. Sleeping well the night before a new experience. Making a phone call without a 20 minute rehearsal session. Having the freedom to be exhausted without having a panic attack. Conversely, not being exhausted all the time from the anxiety. Recovery is a long and arduous process but so worth it!” — Alex W.
33. “I am able to live in the moment, without thinking about what happened yesterday, what might happen tomorrow, what others might be thinking about me, or all the other things I ‘should’ be doing. Those moments, whether they last a couple minutes or a couple hours, are pure bliss.” — Lana R.
34. “When toxic people stay away from me. That’s how I measure good progress of recovery.” — Aki G.
35. “When I don’t feel like a layer underneath my skin is vibrating. The higher my anxiety, the faster the vibration feels to me, until I feel like I’m about to come out of my skin. It’s a strange sensation and not in a fun way.” — Michelle Q.
36. “I can order my own food at restaurants without being too nervous.” — Marisa R.
37. “I can watch TV or movies, follow the storyline and not over react. It’s small but promising.” — Patricia D.
38. “Getting up early to go to work is easier because I look forward to being around all of the people I work with.” — Ray W.
39. “I have moments of clarity. I can actually rationalize with myself and see reason. Then I try to remember it when I’m down. All the good things I remember. In recovery, I can talk to people without the fear of rejection, insecurity is not present and I feel fearless.” — Lee M.
40. “I remember my copping mechanisms! I usually just spiral, but remembering to stop and focus on my breath or count backwards from 100 by seven is a huge step in the right direction!” — Paige M.
41. “I start feeling a little more motivated to do things. I’ll finally take that shower. Or make myself something to eat. Or maybe dress in clothes that aren’t pajamas and try to look nice.” — Hailey L.
42. “When I become more patient with my boys and I can shrug off their accidents instead of getting angry about it. And I don’t look forward to bedtime, but I look forward to waking up in the morning to see my boys faces.” — Cora-Lee H.
43. “I can remember big moments. I’ve met many celebrities, and can not remember our conversations because my anxiety takes over me. It’s so hard, but now I find myself remembering and enjoying the moment” — Katie Z.
44. “I start joking more with people and I don’t take myself as seriously as I would mid-crisis.” — Hannah W.
45. “When I am able to go grocery shopping and not become flustered when there are people waiting behind me to check out. When I can be comfortable spending time and not thinking about if others are staring at me.” — Jessica T.
46. “When, as cliche as it sounds, the world gets a little brighter. Like the fog that was covering my path got lifted just for a bit.” — Jasmine D.
47. “When I start singing to myself and I don’t even realize I’m doing it.” — Renee S.
Can you relate?
Thinkstock photo via Grandfailure.