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15 Anxiety Habits That Make People Feel Like a 'Bad Friend'

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When you’ve lived with anxiety for a while, sometimes you become aware of the “impolite” things you do because of it. Things that might make you feel like a “bad” friend, co-worker, loved one, etc.

Maybe you flake out on plans you made so frequently that your friends have stopped inviting you places. Maybe you avoid emails, calls and texts because they feel too overwhelming, and your friends feel ignored. Or maybe your anxiety makes you lash out in anger at the people you love most.

If you struggle with a manifestation of anxiety that makes you feel like a “bad friend,” you’re not alone. We wanted to know specifically what anxiety behaviors make people feel like bad friends, so we asked our Mighty community to share with us one thing they do that makes them feel like a bad friend. It’s important to remember that while you may struggle with feeling like a bad friend from time to time, living with anxiety doesn’t inherently make you a bad friend — and you can have successful and fulfilling friendships as someone with mental health struggles. True friends will stick by you, anxiety and all.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

  1. “I literally isolate myself and have a hard time talking to friends or responding back. I avoid everyone. Makes me feel horrible. I am a great friend, but I just rather avoid everything… I can’t make conversation for the life of me. So I just stay inside 24/7.” — Lynn K.
  2. “My anxiety makes me lash out and people think I’m actually mad at them whereas the anxiety is what came out. I don’t like people helping and cleaning my home. My anxiety likes a dirty sink so I can frantically clean to easy it. And so people end up pushed away even more than I’d like. And ends up helping the depression kick in. ‘Crazy’ cycle.” — Leesha K.
  3. “I feel like I should apologize in case something I did was annoying, but then I’m stuck wondering if apologizing for something insignificant would also be annoying.” — Jessica H.
  4. “I don’t talk. I avoid conversations as much as possible when I am [having an] anxiety attack.” — Bas A.
  5. “I cancel plans I’ve made because I was too anxious or exhausted. [This] makes me feel guilty and like a bad friend as sometimes they don’t understand my anxiety.” — Bri H.
  6. “[I end up being] self-absorbed unintentionally and forget to ask how they are, because I’m too busy focusing on my irrational worries. I really do care and I feel so guilty for being selfish. I’m just trying to make sense of what’s going on in my head.” — Caoimhe J.
  7. “When my anxiety is really bad or I have felt stressed out, I won’t answer phone calls and am slower to respond to texts. It’s not that I don’t want to stay in touch, it’s just that I need my space and am feeling overwhelmed.” — Susan P.
  8. “When I find someone who finally lets me into their ‘circle’ or invites me to fun events I sometimes self-sabotage. I try too hard at the parties. I overthink everything. If they don’t text back right away, I assume I did something wrong and then I text them an inappropriate amount of times. It’s like, I’ve lost so many friends to mental health issues that when I find one that likes me, I squeeze and love them so much, until the friendship has no life left in it. Almost every single time.” — Bex A.
  9. “I need constant reassurance. If people don’t include me in plans or conversation, I’ll start getting upset because I think that means they don’t like me or they don’t want to include me because I’m annoying or something. I know it’s just my anxiety talking but it still gets to me.” — Heather D.
  10. “I zone out completely and miss entire conversations. People have to physically touch me to bring me back out of my head, or be super loud, which leads to furthering my anxiety.” — Vix E.
  11. “I leave without saying goodbye to anyone.” — Christina G.
  12. “I don’t let anyone over to my house because I’m always so self-conscious about the way it looks. I have two kids so it’s never clean.” — Reba E.
  13. “Either I try to hang out all the time for reassurance or I just kind of disappear and don’t talk to anyone out of fear or guilt.” — Tia M.
  14. “I used to have very bad OCD and used to ask my friend the same questions over and over to try and reassure myself that I was OK. While I was doing that, I was ignoring the things that were important to my friend.” — Brenda I.
  15. “I get really quiet and physically shrink myself… I slouch more, cross my arms and just completely disengage with whatever we’re doing. I sometimes start crying, depending on who I’m with. It’s embarrassing, but the good apples understand. I love my good apples.” — Shannon S.

Want to work on developing coping strategies for your anxiety habits? The pieces below might help:

Originally published: March 14, 2018
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