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    Juliette V.

    20 'Harmless' Comments That Actually Hurt People With Anxiety

    If you live with anxiety, you might be familiar with some of the seemingly “harmless” but incredibly hurtful things people often say to those struggling with it. Sometimes these “harmless” comments come in the form of a question. ( Have you tried meditating?) Sometimes they come with a “solution” via personal anecdote. ( Becky used to get panic attacks, and once she started exercising again, her anxiety totally went away.) Most often, they come from a place of misunderstanding mental health struggles. And even though these “harmless” comments may come from a good place, they can often invalidate the struggles of someone living with anxiety. When someone with anxiety opens up about their struggles, oftentimes they aren’t looking for your “solution,” “advice,” opinions, DIY anxiety healing guide, etc. — they may just be looking for someone to listen and be there. We wanted to know what “harmless” comments people with anxiety have heard that actually hurt them, so we asked our mental health community to share one with us and explain what it feels like to hear it. It’s important to remember what may seem “harmless” to one person may actually be hurtful to another. No matter what anyone says, your feelings are valid, and you deserve support. Here’s what our community shared with us: 1. “Other people have it worse than you do.” “ ‘You’re lucky in comparison to others. It could be worse.’ This was said by an old ‘friend’ to whom I was saying I was struggling with depression after my father’s death few month before… I had the right to feel bad. We should remember we all have the right to feel how we feel.” — Albane L. “ ‘Other people have it worst than you.’ Just because I can do certain things and function a bit more than others with anxiety doesn’t mean I’m not struggling.” — Kayla D. 2. “You shouldn’t rely on medication.” “’You shouldn’t rely on medication. I have anxiety and I just deal with it. I don’t take medication.’” — Ashlee H. “ ‘You need to be strong so you don’t keep taking those medicines.’” — Rita T. 3. “You’re making a mountain out of a molehill.” “‘You’re making a mountain out of a molehill…’ People used to tell me this all the time, especially in school when I reported bullying.” — Taylor S. 4. “Have you been praying enough?” “‘ God will make it better.’ ‘Just pray…’ I probably have 100 more, but these are the ones I hear the most during a down period.” — Dezei R. “I was often told I didn’t have enough faith, implying my anxiety was my fault and a punishment. Put a bad taste in my mouth when it came to religion, and definitely didn’t make the anxiety any better. I know they thought they were being helpful, but it wasn’t in the slightest.” — Jessica A. “‘ Give it to God, then you can stop worrying about it.’” — MaryJane G. 5. “Everybody feels stressed sometimes.” “‘Everybody feels like that.’ Sounds innocent enough, but if I am disclosing how I am feeling to you then the last thing I want is you trying to shift the focus to ‘everyone’ else. I have opened up to you because I want to talk about me. Turning it into being about everyone else doesn’t help and just makes me feel like I am not valid.” — Lexie B. “‘I’m sorry you’re stressed. I’m stressed, too.’ I’m not stressed, I’m anxious and feeling extreme dread over everything and nothing. It’s not stress.” — Lindsey M. “‘Oh, I get anxious all the time,’ but [then they] talk about something that made them temporarily nervous.” — Kaitlyn T. “ ‘You’re not the only one who has bad days.’” — Will J. 6. “Just calm down.” “ ‘Just calm down.’ This is seriously one of the most detrimental things you can say to someone with anxiety. We seriously don’t wake up wanting to stress and worry and overall exhaust ourselves with everything around and inside of us.” — Kristy H. 7. “Stop freaking out.” “‘Stop freaking out, it’s not a big deal.’ Anxiety doesn’t care if it’s actually a big deal or not.” — Stephanie R. 8. “Again?” “When someone asks ‘again?’ when I tell them I’m anxious or feeling weird or express my panic or anything like that… like yes, it’s happening ‘again.’ It happens often at times and then I can experience breaks, but it never goes away and I know they don’t mean it to be mean, but it’s hard for me too having to go through anxiety attacks and feeling anxious every day…” — Jessica S. 9. “You need to change your mindset.” “Someone very close to me has said, ‘Can you just stop thinking that way? It’s not hard to change your mindset.’ That threw me into complete isolation of myself. I wish every waking morning, every sleepless night, when my anxiety gets the best of me, I can just not think like this. That if for one day, even one minute, I can feel like I’m ‘normal.’ They had the best intentions at heart, but they didn’t understand the weight and hardship my anxiety has put on me and my day-to-day life.” — Janell R. 10. “You don’t know what stress is.” “’You don’t get to be stressed. Keeping a roof over a family’s head is stress.” — Michael R. 11. “Well, go and get help then.” “ ‘Well go and get help then!’ is my dad’s answer whenever I’m struggling. Unfortunately I can’t share how I’m feeling with my family and that can sometimes make situations with them difficult. Particularly in publicly if I’m mid-attack and they’re just having a go at me. They’re not bad people, they just don’t understand mental illness.” — Lauren M. 12. “You need some work therapy.” “’You need some ‘work therapy,’ before directing me outside to clean the yard. I felt dismissed and made a mockery of. This was the day I was released from the hospital. Heartless. Even now (17 years later) it still makes me want to seriously hurt myself.” — T.B. 13. “I think you’re just looking for reasons to be upset.” “‘I think you are just looking for reasons to be upset.’ From my dad… I told my parents I felt shoved aside, so he said that.” — Anna G. 14. “Smile.” “’Smile. It will help.’” — Lexi L. 15. “You’re a hypochondriac.” “’You’re a hypochondriac.’ It makes me feel like I am more ill than I am. It makes me feel so upset and angry because it’s basically just ignoring me and telling me to shut up.” — Charlotte U. 16. “You’re overreacting.” “ I am constantly told I’m overreacting to damn near everything. To calm down. Chill out. Mind you, in tone that just feels so condescending.” — Patricia B. 17. “Get over yourself.” “ ‘Get over it/yourself.’ I shut down. I remove myself from people. I make it so I am not only bothersome to others. I disappear all together.” — Ellen S. 18. “You don’t seem like someone who would have anxiety.” “’You don’t seem like someone who has anxiety…’ Because I’m not walking around breathing into a paper bag 24/7? Made me feel completely invalid.” — Ruby C. 19. “ You were fine a minute ago.” “’You were fine a minute ago. You have no reason to be upset.’ This is a big one for me because the smallest things that happen to me can cause a panic attack. If I could stop these, I would, but I don’t have any control of them and saying stuff like that makes it worse.” — Madison U. 20. “Just breathe.” ‘Just breathe.’ Thanks. I didn’t realize humans could do that. Still doesn’t help my issue though. I get the intent behind it but… it’s not helping.” — Chelsey C. “‘Just breathe, you’re fine…’ There is an elephant on my chest and fire in my veins, so in this moment, I can’t breathe and am not fine.” — Jess F. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741 . Getty Images photo via piyapong sayduang

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    How to Find the Right Online Therapist for You

    Seeking a therapist can feel overwhelming, daunting and a little bit scary. What will they ask me? How will I feel? Do I need to tell them everything? What if I feel uncomfortable? The questions we ask ourselves are often what hold us back from making that first appointment. However, professional counseling is often the missing link when it comes to managing our mental health, and sometimes the best person for you might actually be online. Two therapists from Talkspace , Kate Rosenblatt LMHC, LPC, and Amy Cirbus  PhD, LMHC ,  answer some of the most common questions from The Mighty community regarding online therapy. Talkspace’s mission is to provide more people with convenient, affordable access to licensed providers who can help those in need to live a happier and healthier life. Talkspace aims to present more people with the opportunity to utilize and benefit from therapy in a stigma-free environment. Learn More See their answers to the community’s questions below: Is there a difference in treatments if I see someone online versus in person? Online therapy has similarities and differences to in-person therapy. The biggest difference is how you communicate with your therapist. In-person therapy typically involves meeting in an office for a 50-minute or 1-hour appointment (frequency can vary depending on your specific needs). With online therapy, you can often send a text, audio or video message to your therapist anytime you like. Depending on your plan and insurance, regular live video sessions can happen too and can conveniently take place from almost anywhere. One of the distinct advantages of online therapy is the ability to reach out to your therapist more frequently instead of waiting for your weekly in-office appointment. Being able to get support, work on your goals and check in with your therapist throughout the week can make a significant difference. How do I know if my therapist is a good fit for me, especially in a virtual setting? Therapists vary in their specialities and offer different types of treatment, regardless of whether you see them in person or online. The best way to understand what to expect with your therapist is to ask questions about their qualifications, approach and areas of expertise. Finding the right fit can be really hard; it can take some trial and error. Therapists are human too, which means they may not be aligned with your wants, needs and values. And that’s OK! It’s important to find someone who is possibly in a similar life phase (so they relate to some of the experiences you have) and specializes in treatments that are relevant to your needs. Having followers, reviewers or other clients attesting to their competence helps too. After the first few sessions, whether in-person or virtual, start to ask yourself some important questions. Does your therapist spend more time listening than talking? Is this a person who demonstrates empathy and tries to “walk in your shoes?” Do you feel like they are open-minded and fluid? In therapy sessions, clients should be encouraged to lead the way, so it’s important that your therapist is a gentle guide, mentor and facilitator to help you move toward your goals. If they seem to take over the conversation, lack empathy in their responses or appear close-minded to your life situation, they may not be the best fit. I’m not sure how to articulate my feelings. What if I can’t express myself? Everyone is different in how they express their feelings. Some find that activities like art, movement, music and spoken word are the best ways to convey emotions. One of the great things about online therapy is that it allows you to use these mediums (and more) to communicate your feelings to your therapist. Try breaking the ice by sending your therapist memes, videos and songs that resonate with you. It’s also important to always go at your own pace when it comes to sharing what’s on your mind. Will they be able to understand/read how you are feeling on just a computer screen? If you are writing to your therapist, you may need to be more direct about how you are feeling since your therapist won’t be able to hear your tone of voice or see your body language. Consider using other methods of communication, too, like leaving your therapist a video or audio message or sending them some photos of your life. This can help your therapist get to know and understand you better. I keep talking about the same things over and over in therapy — is this normal? It’s completely normal (and typical) to repeat conversations in therapy until you reach a resolution! Sometimes you find it right away, and other times disclosing details can reveal it’s way more complex than you thought and will require more time to work through. That being said, if you feel like you’ve spent too much time on one particular subject, and it’s taking away from your ability to work through other things, tell your therapist you’re feeling stuck. We love your feedback! I’m feeling OK (I’ve felt worse).  How do I know if I should start therapy or wait? Even if you are feeling OK overall, therapy can still be beneficial. It’s a great place to find non-judgmental support outside of your friends and family.  Being in a fairly stable place in your life, as opposed to being in crisis, is also the perfect time to focus on creating and maintaining healthy habits and coping skills. Your therapist should also support you in identifying and achieving personal goals. Therapy is a space where you can reflect on your core values and use those values to create a meaningful life. It’s not only for times of urgency (although that’s important too!). Can I choose my therapist? What if I want to change therapists? Online therapy is, in many ways, like in-person therapy,  so you can always choose your therapist. The client-provider relationship is an important factor to ensuring a successful outcome, so you’ll also be able to select a better match for you if it isn’t working out. However, it’s important to give your therapist a chance to work together for at least a few sessions before making the switch. Is an online therapist available nationwide? I plan to travel in the near future and wonder if it will allow me to get care on the go. Talkspace online therapy is available nationwide. If you are on a trip or traveling, you can stay in touch with your therapist and continue working on your mental health goals. Where can I go to try online therapy? Interested in trying online therapy? Talkspace partners with some insurance plans. Even if you don’t have an insurance plan that covers mental health services like Talksapce, online therapy is typically less expensive than traditional face-to-face therapy. You may find that it fits your budget even if you are paying out-of-pocket . To help you get started, T he Mighty has partnered with Talkspace to give Mighty members $100 off Talkspace services with code MIGHTY . Learn More

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    Living With High-Functioning and Hidden Anxiety

    High-functioning anxiety looks like… Achievement. Busyness. Perfectionism. When it sneaks out, it transforms into nervous habits. Nail biting. Foot tapping. Running my fingers through my hair. If you look close enough, you can see it in unanswered text messages. Flakiness. Nervous laughter. The panic that flashes through my eyes when a plan changes. When anything changes. High-functioning anxiety feels like… A snake slithering up my back, clamping its jaws shut where my shoulders meet my neck. Punch-in-the-gut stomach aches, like my body is confusing answering an email with being attacked by a lion. High-functioning anxiety sounds like… You’re not good enough. You’re a bad friend. You’re not good at your job. You’re wasting time. You’re a waste of time. Your boyfriend doesn’t love you. You’re so needy. What are you doing with yourself? Why would you say that? What if they hate it? Why can’t you have your shit together? You’re going to get anxious and because you’re going to get anxious, you’re going to mess everything up. You’re a fraud. Just good at faking it. You’re letting everybody down. No one here likes you. All the while, it appears perfectly calm. It’s always looking for the next outlet, something to channel the never-ending energy. Writing. Running. List-making. Mindless tasks (whatever keeps you busy). Doing jumping jacks in the kitchen. Dancing in the living room, pretending it’s for fun, when really it’s a choreographed routine of desperation, trying to tire out the thoughts stuck in your head. It’s silent anxiety attacks, hidden by smiles. It’s always being busy but also always avoiding, so important things don’t get done. It’s letting things pile up rather than admitting you’re overwhelmed or in need of help. It’s that sharp pang of saying the wrong thing, the one that starts the cycles of thoughts. Because you said too much, and nobody cares, and it makes you never want to speak up again. It’s going back and forth between everyone else has it together but you, and so many people have it tougher than you. Get your act together. Suck it up. You’re not OK, you’re messing everything up. You’re totally OK, stop being such a baby. It’s waking up in the middle of the night sobbing because the worst-case-scenario that just went through your head at high speed seems so real, so vivid, that even when it’s proven to be untrue, it takes hours for your heart to slow down, to feel calm again. Because how “OK” are you when a day without a plan is enough to make you crumble? When empty spaces make you spiral at the very anticipation of being alone with your thoughts? When you need to make a list to get through a Sunday: watch a show, clean your kitchen, exercise, answer five emails, read 10 pages, watch a show… ? It’s feeling unqualified to write this piece because I’m getting by. It’s when you’re social enough to get invited to things, but so often find yourself standing in a room where it feels like no one knows you. It’s being good at conversation and bad at making close friends because you only show up when you feel “well” enough. Only text back when you feel ready. Because you’re afraid they’d hate you if they really knew you. That the energy would overwhelm them, and you’d lose them. So you learn to rein it in. Channel it. Even though sometimes you do everything right (exercise, sleep, one TV show, five emails, 10 pages…) and you’re still left with racing thoughts, the panic. The not good enoughs. When will it be enough? Having anxiety means constantly managing motion that can be productive or self-destructive, depending on how much sleep you got. Depending on the day. Depending on the Earth’s alignment with Mars. Depending on… It’s when “living with it” means learning how to sit with it. Practicing staying in bed a little longer. Challenging the mean, unrelenting voices that say you’re only worth what you produced that day. It means learning how to say, “I need help.” Trying to take care of yourself without the guilt. It means every once in a while, confiding in a friend. It means sometimes showing up even when you’re scared. It’s when answering a text impulsively and thoughtlessly is an act of bravery. It’s fighting against your own need to constantly prove your right to exist in this world. It’s learning how to validate your own feelings. That even though you don’t feel like you’re enough, and you’ll never be enough, it’s knowing you’re at least anxious enough to benefit from help. That admitting you need it doesn’t confirm voices’ lies. That taking a break doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It’s finding your own humanity in the anxiety, in your weaknesses. It’s trying to let the energy inspire you, instead of bring you down. It’s forgiving yourself when it wins. It’s a way to live, with this constant companion. Your bullying twin. Collapsible luggage you can bury away at a moment’s notice. Shove it under the bed. Pretend it’s not there until you can’t fit anymore. Until you can no longer ignore it. Until you have to face it. A first good step is staring at it straight on and calling it by its name. High anxiety can be a natural consequence of a busy lifestyle, but its existence is akin to the chicken and the egg. Which came first, the anxiety or the busyness? Am I always moving because I’m anxious or am I anxious because I’m always moving? Either way, it’s not a noble way to suffer. It’s not a “better” way to be anxious. Just because you’re “functioning” doesn’t always mean you’re happy. And just because you’re functioning doesn’t mean you shouldn’t slow down, breathe and take one damn second to be happy the way things are. In this very moment. This quiet, short moment. To remember the peace you found in that second of silence, until the electricity starts again, and you’re forced to move. MORE ABOUT ANXIETY: While everyone experiences some level of anxiety , not everyone has an anxiety disorder . For those with anxiety disorders, anxiety can become so severe and persistent, it interferes with their daily life and functioning. Anxiety disorder symptoms include excessive worry, panic attacks and other physical symptoms including shortness of breath, nausea, headaches and tremors. Click here to join our anxiety community and connect with people who get it.

    Nearly one million people find support for themselves and their loved ones on The Mighty's Anxiety page every day. Join the conversation.

    31 Habits of People With Anxiety

    There are the quirky, small things that make you, you. Then, there are the things you do because of anxiety. While personality traits and anxious habits can blend together, to an outsider it’s not always clear which of these “habits” are driven by anxiety. Whether it makes you look “rude” (avoiding phone calls, canceling plans) or “odd” (leaving a social setting quickly, bouncing your leg) — it can be hard when others judge you based on these actions without knowing what’s going on inside your head. To find out some habits of people who have anxiety, we asked our mental health community to share one thing people might not realize they’re doing because of anxiety. Here’s what they shared with us: 1. “I run my hands along my face and neck, scanning for imperfections (acne, facial hair, scabs), and I pick at them. Sometimes until the spot is bleeding or I’ve hurt myself.” — Nana M. 2. “I apologize for anything and everything that might seem like it would be an inconvenience for anyone… whether I can control it or not.” — Tamara J. 3. “If I start to feel overwhelmed I have to go somewhere else. Sometimes that means I zone out even in the middle of conversations. Other times I have to run out of the room so I can go cry and freak out. It’s not that I don’t like people; they just overwhelm me at times.” — Becca W. 4. “Getting irritable and snapping at little things. This is often accompanied by sensory overload. When I have a panic attack, my thoughts are so intense and engulfing that I could lose my cool at the drop of a hat. I’m normally kind and patient, but sometimes my mind just won’t stop.” — Shelby S. 5. “People don’t realize I shake constantly because of my anxiety. I often blame it on being cold because I don’t want people to know I’m having a panic attack and feel like I’m about to pass out.” — Ally M. 6. “Forgetting random things of varying importance. My mind is so overtaxed just getting through the day, things sometimes slip… sorry…” — Trüth B. 7. “I take everything personally. Even though it may have been a small mistake/error, it will expand and take over my mind and I will be thinking about it all day.” — Jeremy C. 8. “I space out, even in the middle of a conversation, if my anxiety gets too bad. I can go from completely engaged in the conversation to just physically there in a matter of seconds.” — Alicia S. 9. “I scroll through my phone. It looks like I’m not paying attention or don’t want to be with whoever is there, but I do I just need an extra distraction. I also have ADD so I can be mindlessly scrolling through an app on my phone and be engaged in conversation; it’s just my anxiety is overwhelming if I don’t have that distraction.” — Liz T. 10. “For me it’s playing with my hair, not talking on the phone at all, not participating in anything. Shaking and stuttering. I sometimes even forget how to even form sentences.” — Lily S. 11. “Worrying about every little thing to the point where it annoys people, but it’s not my fault I can’t stop worrying and dwelling.” — Amanda A. 12. “I constantly shake my legs… I have since a child… I don’t even realize I’m doing it until someone brings it to my attention.” — Davin T. 13. “I get really really quiet — to where people don’t even know I’m in my office. I start to detach and zone out, and people will remark how they haven’t seen me all day.” — Carolyn A. 14. “Biting my nails and the skin on my hands until they bleed. I have permanent scars on my hands now — I hate them. People just think I have a bad nail biting habit.” — Molly E. 15. “Comfort eating constantly. Not just because I have a big appetite. If I’m anxious, I will just eat. Even if I’m extremely full.” — Holly M. 16. “I talk a lot in social settings, which seems a bit odd for someone with social anxiety, but I can’t handle any prolonged silence when in a group. I get very anxious, and then I start talking. The more I talk the more I get caught up in the anxiety and as can be predicted, I usually say inappropriate things that in turn increases my anxiety and the talking, and I repeat the cycle. It’s horrible, especially if there’s alcohol involved.” — Mindy W. 17. “If I frantically leave a room, I can promise it is only because I’m experiencing a sensory overload and my anxiety is through the roof. It gives me even more anxiety to feel like I’m being rude, but the idea of having a panic attack in front of people is too brutal to continue standing in the room.” — Alexa K. 18. “People don’t realize my jitteriness (leg shaking/tapping on desks) is because of my anxiety. If I don’t do something to release nervous energy, it just builds up inside, which is much worse.” — Liz P. 19. “Talking out loud to myself and narrating my actions and surroundings to myself. Like, ‘I am here, sitting at my desk, I have a stack of papers here, here are my pens, my tea cup feels warm in my hand, I am turning my computer on now…’ This is actually soothing to me, and I’ve done it since I was a little girl.” — Andréa V. 20. “I go to the restroom a lot. Probably half of the time I go when I am in public is because I need a break. Yeah, anxiety makes hanging out in a small cramped bathroom stall my comfort zone. I can be alone and get a break from the social situation that is causing my anxiety.” — Desiree N. 21. “Over-planning trips. Crying. Not being able to sleep. Being overly protective (even of friends). Canceling plans/trip/party. Picking at sores/scabs/zits. Hurting oneself. Overcompensating.” — Ciara C. 22. “Stretching at my desk. Sure, it’s a good idea to do when you mostly sit for your job, but it also helps ‘ground’ me when my anxiety spikes and helps me not dissociate or spiral out of control with my thoughts.” — Chriss T. 23. “I sleep a lot. I guess it looks like laziness to most, but being with or meeting other people drains me from energy. I can be tired for days after meeting/talking with somebody. Even being with my friends can drain my energy to below zero. Lately it has been so bad, I’e started to isolate myself because I just don’t have the energy anymore.” — Sanne V. 24. “Awkward laugh. I don’t do it intentionally, but often when I’m uncomfortable, I’ll catch myself laughing after saying something or during an awkward silence. I hate that I do it and I try not to, but it just seems to be my body’s reaction when I’m anxious in a social situation.” — Keira H. 25. “Nagging. Sometimes I can be really bossy or nag people because I’m trying to feel in control of something. For example, I get really bad anxiety in cars and I will constantly ask my husband to slow down, even if we are going below the speed limit. Another one is also over-preparing. I’m always packing the diaper bag with a million things ‘just in case…” because I have run through every nightmare scenario in my mind and I feel like if I don’t have enough supplies for three days+ for each kid, then something bad will happen.” — Sabrina H. 26. “I space out a lot. Sometimes I even forget who I’m with or where I’m at. I cry spontaneously over really little things. I always ask for a specific person when I have an attack even if I’m surrounded by others that care. They all seem to think it’s because they aren’t helping or that they’re scaring me but it’s not any of that. It really sucks sometimes.” — Gennie A. 27. “I’m forgetful and scared I’m going to forget something important. I keep three calendars which are always updated identically, and I carry them with me. I make to-do lists. There are tons of alarms and reminder alerts on my phone because of this.” — Kristin S. 28. “Being indecisive. People think I’m just being picky and can’t make up my mind, but honestly I’m freaking out because you might hate me if I chose the wrong one.” — Angie B. 29. “I always have my headphones in because I’m really sensitive to noise. It’s easier to block out all the noise for me, but people find it really rude. I also mess with my hair a lot and talk really soft.” — Alex R. 30. “I play with my hair, either wrapping it around my fingers or knotting and unknotting it. People take it the wrong way and assume I’m either being really ignorant or even flirty sometimes but I really cant help it.” — Sophie D. 31. “Being really quiet… I’m probably either ruminating about something I shouldn’t be ruminating about and I’m trying not to mention it, or I’m mentally exhausted and trying to exist as little as possible for a while.” — Moonjay R.

    Anxiety is hard. You don’t have to go it alone, we promise. Join our Conquer Your Mind group, and let us be there for you.