16 Honest Pictures That Show the 'Embarrassing' Sides of Anxiety We Don't Talk About

When you live with a health condition, oftentimes there are unwanted or “embarrassing” symptoms you have to learn to live with. This can be especially true when you are struggling with anxiety.

Maybe you strive for an unattainable standard of perfection that keeps you from getting done what you need to. Maybe your anxiety comes out in skin picking and you don’t know how to stop. Or maybe you can’t predict when your next panic attack will happen, and you feel terrified of leaving the house.

No matter what your experience of “embarrassing” anxiety symptoms looks like, we want you to know you aren’t alone. The only way we can break the shame and stigma surrounding “embarrassing” symptoms is to talk about them, so we asked our Mighty community to share one photo that shows an “embarrassing” part of anxiety they struggle with.

Before we begin, we want to preface by saying that feelings of embarrassment are very real, and like all feelings, are completely valid. But even though it’s natural to feel embarrassed sometimes, we want you to know there is no shame in struggling with anxiety.

Here are the photos our community shared with us:

1. “Cystic acne outbreak after three consecutive anxiety attacks and an emotional meltdown. It covers my entire face, chest, shoulders and back.” — Jordana B.

cystic acne

2. “Sitting in driveway and feeling anxious deciding if I want to drive to my doctor’s appointment. And [then I] realize I have been sitting there for two hours, too anxious to drive.” — Eric B.

Eric B.

3. “This picture is not only messy, but embarrassing for me. This is my hair last week. I was going through an anxiety episode that had me on the verge. Sometimes I felt like hurting myself out of self-loathing and inability to ground myself, so out of desperation I grabbed a pair of scissors and cut almost all of my hair. I helped me overcome the symptoms that day, but it didn’t make me happy to realize what I did afterwards. Looking myself in the mirror with my hair looking like this is a reminder of those times when I can’t really cope with all that overwhelms me.” — Hailie S.

hair in sink

4. I overthink everything when I’m having one of my ‘days.’ My anxiety and depression and stress levels were higher than ever. This was one of those days.” — Shavonne H.

Shavonne H.

5. “I took this picture after my anxiety got so bad I had a panic attack. I’m an emotional person, and I cry a lot. Depression, anxiety and conflict are huge triggers for me. I get myself so worked up and cry so hard I’m a physical as well as an emotional wreck. In this case, a fight with my boyfriend triggered a panic attack and I cried for hours. Then even after the crisis is over, I have a really hard time letting the emotions go and calming down.” — Coleen M.

Colleen M.

6. I have to write ‘scripts’ before making phone calls to people I don’t know. I treat them like an essay. Come up with a rough draft and edit as needed until it feels ‘right.’” — Alex L.

writing notes for ohone convos

7. “Whenever I get anxiety, my feet and hands get numb and cold because all the blood rushes to my more important parts to my body. It’s embarrassing how frigid and shaky they get. I tend to run hot water over my feet and hands just to feel somewhat normal and focused on my own body feeling better. Sometimes I’m in the bath for hours just trying to get down from that high stress level.” — Adam B.

feet in tub

8. Sleeping and staying in bed until the afternoon. Because I know that once I get up, I’ll have to deal with all the anxiety. Many days I sleep until I am completely unable to sleep any longer just because I’m so anxious and I don’t want to suffer through it.” — Anna C.

anna C.

9. “Bloody, painful fingers are my embarrassing side of my anxiety. I am unable to control the urge to pull and rip at the skin on both of my hands. I often wish I could have nice hands so I could take pictures of my nail polish without being embarrassed about my disgusting skin. It causes me physical pain, yet I somehow cannot stop.” — Linda M.

finger picking

10. “Me, after shaking my head furiously from nervousness and pulling some of my hair out.” — David R.

11. To some, this may look perfectly normal, to others, it’s a mess. To me, cleaning up my desk gives me a great deal of anxiety because I’m always afraid of throwing out something I may need later on. No matter how many times I go through it, the thoughts are always there. ‘Wait, what if I need this later? This pen might come in handy later. Ugh! Why did I get rid of that?'” — Chris S.

messy desk

12. “This was on Christmas last year with my daughter. I look happy but honestly, I was beyond anxious and overwhelmed being around a bunch of people who are my family. A lot of the time, I rush everything in my life and it’s literally beyond draining. I just wanted that day to be over so I could go home and get in comfortable clothing and just be on the couch.” — Ellen W.

ellen w.

13. Pretty much my skin after preparing myself to shower. I get so much anxiety I spend about 40 minutes picking at my skin until I calm down. I do it on my shoulders, upper arms, thighs… this is just a bit of it. I always wear long shirts and sweaters to hide it from people.” — Andrea G.”

blotchy skin

14. “This is the bad side of anxiety, when you can’t get out of bed for fear of something bad happening. I will lay in bed all day sometimes fearing if I get up, the day will go wrong. It causes body aches and back pain but I can’t force myself to get up. It’s like I’m chained to my bed.” — Morgan M.

woman in bed, anxious

15. “Try being premenopausal mixed with anxiety. The hot flashes!” — Dori T.

16. “Lots of my days are spent laying on the couch with my kiddos because if I even try to think about doing something, I get tossed into a whirlwind of tears, intrusive suicidal thoughts and my heart and lungs feel like [they might] collapse because of the anxiety it comes with.” — Reba E.

mom and baby

What would you say to someone who’s embarrassed of their anxiety symptoms? Tell us in the comments below.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Anxiety

man in water

When Anxiety Keeps You From Living Your Life

It’s a debilitating feeling, like there isn’t anything I can do to stop it. That great old feeling — anxiety. It feels like spoiled nerves in the pit of my stomach over something that isn’t happening. It’s anticipation for something that’s not coming. It’s nervous energy when there isn’t anything to be nervous about. And [...]
girl with curly hair.

What Seeing the News Is Like as Someone Who Is Both 'Woke' and Anxious

It is the year 2018. There are no limits on what you can know. All the tape has been removed, the locks unlocked, the chains cut and the vault opened. Information is no longer hidden away behind political jargon, or bad commercials. Anyone can capture or find information at any time. We live in a [...]
woman in neon light

When Anxiety Has You Anticipating the Day Everyone Will Leave You

This piece was written by Lauren Jarvis-Gibson, a Thought Catalog contributor. It’s an ongoing cycle. An ongoing battle of thoughts inside my head that make me doubt my friendships and my life. Anxiety makes me question everything. And it honestly makes me doubt myself. It’s a never-ending rain cloud that follows me around, wherever I go and [...]
woman in grassland with colourful balloons against sun

How I’m Pushing My Anxiety’s Boundaries This Year

Have you ever let your anxiety stop you from doing things in life? I most certainly have. I feel like I need to give myself a massive pep talk in order to push myself out of my boundaries. This is my first story and it took a lot to even put fingers to keyboard. I’ve [...]