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Woman Shares How You Can 'See' Anxiety – Because It's Not Just the Inability to Relax


On Facebook, Megan Ferrero posts about makeup, skincare and positivity. Last week, she took a break from her popular makeup posts to share something many people try to hide — what anxiety looks like. Accompanying a photo of her chewed up nails, she wrote:

Anxiety isn’t just chest pains, crying, and the inability to relax.

It’s biting your nails until they bleed, then picking off the skin on your fingers once you’re out of nails to bite.

It’s driving to the store only to sit in the parking lot for 20 minutes before turning back around, without even going inside.

It’s getting a text message and forgetting to respond promptly, so instead of responding explaining you were busy, you leave the notification there for days, weeks, even months, getting a knot in your stomach every time you scroll past it or every time that person’s name comes up

Anxiety isn’t just chest pains, crying, and the inability to relax. It’s biting your nails until they bleed, then…

Posted by Megan Lynne Ferrero on Sunday, July 8, 2018

Her post has been shared over 190,000 times. Ferrero said while it was embarrassing showing a picture of her nails, if even one person can relate, it’s worth pushing past her comfort zone.

In a world where we try to be “picture perfect” online, it can be hard to share parts of our lives that aren’t so pretty. In the piece, “18 Honest Pictures People With Anxiety Want to Post on Facebook, but Don’t,” Mighty community member Tia D. explained why she doesn’t talk about her anxiety on Facebook:

I never share things like this on Facebook as I feel friends might think I’m doing it for attention and [worry] they won’t believe this is an actual illness. Whenever someone challenges the fact I have anxiety, it just makes the anxiety even worse so I never post pictures like this to avoid the chance of this happening. Most of my friends don’t even know I have anxiety as I have a fear of people not taking it seriously.

That’s why sharing information about your own anxiety can help those who don’t feel comfortable posting feel less alone. One person commented on Ferrero’s post, “My fingers look exactly the same. Thank you so much for sharing awareness, big hugs to you.” Another wrote, “Thank you so much for sharing this and making at least one other person know they are not the only one going through the same thing.”

Ferrero said it’s easy for people to look at her “so done up” and think, “She’s got it all together.” 

“The reality of it is that you can look one way on the outside yet feel the complete opposite on the inside,” she told The Mighty. “That’s why I very often share pictures of me bare faced, and it’s why I decided to include the picture of my fingers post-anxiety attack when I shared my story.”

When we get specific about how anxiety affects us, we challenge the misconception that anxiety simply means worrying a lot or just being stressed. Check out this list of photos that show other ways anxiety manifests.

You can read Megan’s full message below:

Anxiety isn’t just chest pains, crying, and the inability to relax.

It’s biting your nails until they bleed, then picking off the skin on your fingers once you’re out of nails to bite.

It’s driving to the store only to sit in the parking lot for 20 minutes before turning back around, without even going inside.

It’s getting a text message and forgetting to respond promptly, so instead of responding explaining you were busy, you leave the notification there for days, weeks, even months, getting a knot in your stomach every time you scroll past it or every time that person’s name comes up.

It’s hearing a noise and planning in your mind where you’ll hide, what doors you’ll lock, and how you’ll secretly call for help if someone broke into your house.

It’s asking your partner several times a day if they love you, partially kidding, but mostly needing to hear it because you find it so hard to love yourself in that moment.

It’s putting off washing the dishes until there’s no dishes left, but then feeling overwhelmed by how many dishes there are to wash, so you just leave them another day.

It’s understanding that what you’re worrying about is often irrational and not as extreme as your reaction warrants, but not being able to control your response. Often times, it even means you CAN’T understand that what you’re worrying about is irrational or not as extreme as your reaction warrants.

Anxiety isn’t just chest pains, crying, and the inability to relax. It’s taking everyday parts of life and intensifying the excitement or fear they result in times a thousand, to the point that they seem impossible to face. Some days are more manageable than others, and it’s on those days I try to remind myself that I CAN get through whatever anxiety throws my way.

It’s hard for me to share this and a little embarrassing to include this picture, but if even one person finds comfort in knowing they’re not alone in this, then I’m going to push past my comfort zones to do that.

If you could post on Facebook about how anxiety affects you, what would you say? Tell us in the comments below.