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When Your Anxiety Is Mistaken as 'Flakiness'

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I recently had a conversation with a good friend of mine about my anxiety and anxious personality. I often don’t return phone calls and text messages in a timely manner (or at all), and although she understands why, our mutual friends that don’t know me as well do not. She then informed me a friend of ours not on social media that texted me a few weeks ago had a baby and was trying to get in touch with me.

Oh, no, I thought. I can’t believe I didn’t respond! I am the worst friend in the world! She then told me bluntly that I may lose friends, not because I am a bad person, but because they will take my non-responsiveness as rudeness. In fact, I have lost friends, or have lost regular contact with people I care about, but not because I don’t care.

In this day and age of smart phones and social media, I often get 30 to 40 text messages/private messages/emails a day during the week. I do my best to respond, but I don’t always.

Quite honestly, I sometimes look at my phone, at all of the apps and text messages and the phone itself will cause me anxiety. I am not kidding. On the weekends I sometimes put the phone in the other room and decompress, only to return to the device filled with what seems like a gazillion notifications. Those close to me have already called me out on my “flakiness” on responding to communication. But I don’t see myself as flaky. I see myself as a caring, compassionate and loyal friend. It is my anxiety that causes the disconnect.

So what I need my friends and acquaintances (and even some family members) to know is that I care, deeply.

In fact, I had thought about my friend with a baby who tried to contact me often, and would always have the thought that I needed to get back to her. I even look at some of my long lost friends on social media and think about private messaging them to catch up, but my anxiety gets in the way. Oh, I don’t want to be a bother, I think to myself. They have busy lives, they probably don’t even want to hear from me anyway.

I hope the people in my life, every single one of them, read this and realize just how much I care. Even if I don’t say it with a digital message every day, I am thinking of you, and you are always in my heart.

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Thinkstock photo via LanaBrest.

Originally published: September 11, 2017
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