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15 Things Anxious People Are Secretly Afraid You’ll Find Out About Them

For many people, living with anxiety often means thinking about — then overthinking about — every possible outcome for any given situation. This can be especially true when it comes to thinking about the ways people will respond to your anxiety.

It can be easy to think if people knew you took medication for your anxiety, they would think you were “unstable.” Or if they knew how much driving causes you to panic, they would think you were “childish.” Or maybe if they knew your anxiety affects your ability to keep a job, they wouldn’t want to be around you anymore.

When faced with worries like these (no matter how irrational they might seem to others), it can be tempting to hide your anxiety, working overtime so people only see the sides of you that you want them to see.

We wanted to know what things anxious people were secretly afraid others would find out about them, so we turned to people in our mental health community to share their experiences with us. Below you can read what they had to say.

Before we start, we want to emphasize there is no shame in struggling with anxiety. Choosing to open up about your mental health is a very personal decision. If you want to keep that part of you private from the people around you, that’s perfectly OK — you don’t have to share anything you’re not comfortable with! But if anxiety is affecting your quality of life, please reach out to a trusted friend or professional who can help. You don’t have to go through it alone.

Here are 15 things people with anxiety secretly worry others will find out:

1. You Don’t Feel as ‘Brave’ as You Seem

“I am always secretly afraid someone will discover how truly fragile I am. I have always put forward a strong, brave persona that most people believe is the true me. I have worked incredibly hard to make people believe I am an outgoing, strong, brave, happy, friendly, energetic and bubbly woman so I would not have to show anyone what a scared, frightened, insecure, introverted, depressed, anxious, angry, broken and dark little girl I really am.” — Amanda H.

2. It’s Hard for You to Keep a Job

“It’s hard for me to keep a job due to being overwhelmed by my anxiety.” — Lisa T.

3. You Hate Going to Parties

“I always worry people will find out I hate going to parties. I appreciate the invitation and I’m glad to see my friends there, but after a while, I look forward to going home and having some alone time. I don’t mean any disrespect to the host, but my anxiety is through the roof at parties. I hate being around so many people at once.” — Thomas M.

4. You Isolate Yourself From Others — a Lot

“I am deathly afraid people knowing how much time I spend isolating from my house and family because they are so overwhelming.” — Tara P.

I hide out at home. I am afraid to have friends or anyone get close to me for fear of hurting or disappointing them. How difficult it really is just to get out of bed every day and act like all is fine. I would rather be alone than have anyone find out who I really am. I am scared of who I am.” — Jennifer S.

5. You Overthink ‘Worse-Case Scenarios’ to the Extreme

“I’m afraid of telling people the extent to which my mind takes me to the ‘worst-case scenario.’ The ‘worst-case scenario’ is quite often a fantastical, outrageous, insanely melodramatic ‘outcome’ that I convince myself will happen. Ex: ‘My blood test came back abnormal. I have cancer and am going to have to go through chemo, lose all my hair and then everyone will abandon me because they are too scared to be around someone who is on the brink of death…’ (Actual scenario I’ve had play over and over in my head.)” — Benjamin W.

6. You’re Not as ‘in Control’ as You Want to Be

“Everyone realizes I’m not as in control as I seem. It’s often matched with a look of being let down. As if my anxiety is just another disappointment to them when they thought they found ‘normal’ — we all have our moments.” — Samantha S.

7. You Rehearse Conversations in Your Head Before You Have Them

[I] have prep conversations with them in my mind before I ever encounter them for the day so I don’t say anything ‘stupid.’” — Destiny H.

8. You Depend on Your Parents

I am so dependent on my mom. I’m 34 and I can’t deal without my mom being available. She’s in her 70s and I can’t imagine her not being around. She’s my support system and my lifeline. My anxiety goes through the roof when I can’t talk to her.” — Jennifer P.

9. You Struggle With Suicidal Thoughts Because of Your Anxiety

“I often have suicidal thoughts, but I never act on them. [I’m] scared someone will call in on me and I will lose my kids.” — Chele M.

10. Driving Makes You Extremely Anxious

“I’m secretly afraid people will notice the intensity of my driving anxiety, which happens regardless of whether I’m the driver or passenger. I make jokes about it, but I never want anyone besides my wife (the only person I know for certain won’t judge me) to actually witness my sheer panic.” — Kitty K.

11. Anxiety Affects Your Speech

“I’m scared people think I’m ‘stupid’ because I struggle to speak when my anxiety gets bad. I trip over my words and can’t say exactly what I want to say.” — Nicola D.

12. You’re Afraid to Go Out

Behind my smiley confident exterior, going out is a huge thing for me and I’m overthinking every possible negative outcome the entire time.” — Jo O.

13. Past Trauma Affects Your Mental Health

“How deep the trauma goes. The majority who has seen a good chunk, run. So I don’t. Better to act normal.” — Jasmine H.

My past. It wasn’t really good and there’s a lot of baggage I carry around. I feel like they would judge me based on my past. I feel like they would sneer at me seeing a therapist because of my past. I’m afraid people will look at me in a different light if they see my life was not always sunshine and lollipops.” — Autumn G.

14. You Can Get Very Attached to Others

“I can be very codependent I try to control it so I don’t become a burden or the ‘toxic person’ in the lives of the people I care about but it’s there… the constant need to have that person there… Some people are my lifesaver and I need them with me more than one would consider ‘healthy.’ I’m afraid it’s more dependence than love, so I try not to act on those emotions.” — Liz T.

I get attached to people really easily and that my abandonment issues make me hold on even more, even at times when I shouldn’t.” —Megan C.

15. You Worry About the Flaws Others See That You Aren’t Aware Of

“I’m always afraid people will notice flaws about me that I haven’t noticed myself yet and then I think that there’s more wrong with me than just the flaws I see.” — Katie J.

If you live in fear of what others will think of you if they see your anxiety, you’re not alone. Here are a few things we need you to remember today.

You are not weak. 

You are not “broken.”

You are not less than.

For anyone in need of support today, you can reach out to our Mighty community by posting a Thought or Question on our platform with the hashtag #CheckInWithMe. You’re never alone, and there are people in our community who want to support you.

For more stories about anxiety from our community, check out the following:

Unsplash photo via Raj Eiamworakul