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17 Secrets of ‘Chill’ People With Anxiety

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To some, being a “chill” person with anxiety might sound a bit like an oxymoron. But the truth is, being a calm person and experiencing anxiety are not mutually exclusive.

Sometimes, what looks like being “cool, calm and collected” may actually be a coping technique to mask the anxiety within. If a friend who always seems “chill” confides in you about a struggle with anxiety, validate their feelings and try to understand where they are coming from — chances are it took a lot for them to share. 

We wanted to know what people with anxiety had to say about this, so we asked “chill” people with anxiety from our mental health community to share one thing they wish others understood about them.

Here’s what they shared with us:

1. “No matter how calm, cool and collected I look, on the inside it’s like cats stuck in a rain storm. It’s a constant fight to appear ‘normal,’ and is exhausting trying to calm the ‘inner demons.’” — Chantal W.

2. “My anxiety is connected to very specific situations, places, people and bad memories. For example, if I get invited somewhere (like bowling) I may go and have a great time. If I get invited to do the same activity but it’s in a different location and is in a suburb that I purposely avoid for PTSD reasons, I absolutely will not go and will have a full-blown panic attack if pressure is put on me. On the outside, people wouldn’t understand why I can’t do the same activity on a different day. It’s not always connected to the activity. It depends where it is, who’s invited, how sensitive I’m feeling that day, plus a million other things. I avoid certain places to protect myself from memories I can’t deal with and don’t want to explain to anybody who doesn’t already know.” — Ashleigh C.

3. Everyone is so confused when I tell them I have anxiety! Apparently I always seem to ‘have it all together.’ I wish people understood that in my head there is constant noise — like sirens and chaos. Outwardly I’m not necessarily a bubbling mess of nervous energy, but inside everything is far from calm. I’ve already run through 160 possible ‘what ifs.’ Also. Don’t change the plan. Not even a tiny bit— unless you give me lots of advanced warning!” — Abby B.

4. “I’m not ‘chill’ most of the time. I’m frozen. Frozen with fear, with paranoia, with anxiety. It isn’t that I’m a man of few words, it’s that I’m a brain too many… and too few, all at once.” — Tommie M.

5. “I’m a good actor. Don’t lecture me on how anxious I really am. Just because I seem OK in a situation, does not mean I am. In that respect, if I need to back out of important situations, I’m genuinely anxious. You telling me I don’t ‘look too anxious’ is not helping this situation at all.” — Alexander W.

6. My face may be calm or portraying the appropriate emotion of the moment/situation, but what you can’t see and can’t hear is that my heart is in my throat, pounding like a jackhammer as if it desperately needs out of my rib cage. I can feel my palms get sweaty or my hands get shaky. My mind begins to run a mile a minute.” — Bekkah A.

7. “I am not making it up. The littlest tasks drain me. I do not know why I am easily annoyed daily. I can’t just switch it off. No matter how I present myself, I am still having an anxiety attack. Be here for me when I need you. Do not get so upset with me or angry. It only makes me not like myself even more.” — Ashley C.

8. “[My] anxiety can cause more anxiety. Anxiety sensitivity. Sure, I’m chill, but I’m easily flustered. I’m not very thick-skinned. I can take a joke and understand humor, but when things are said to me out of malice, spite or pure hate, I will break down.” — Jordan D.

9. Keeping that chill exterior is part of my issue. Anxiety is about control and freaking out when I can’t control something. That includes the image I portray. I want everyone to believe I’m ‘chill’ so I control what people see even if under it all I’m freaking out and wishing I were somewhere else.” — Susan T.

10. “My anxiety comes from constantly thinking over bad memories or thinking people will hate me or ‘tell me off’ for whatever reason. I’m an introvert and am quiet, but if I am left alone with my thoughts, sometimes I can work myself up into anxiety frenzy of fear, guilt and shame.” — Jeremy N.

11. “Never judge a book by its cover. I may look cool and calm, but on the inside, it’s complete chaos. I wear my masks very well.” — Monique J.

12. “I appear calm, cool and collected on the outside. I have been told I have the patience of a saint. The only reason I appear this way is from many years of practice of self-control. If you could read my thoughts, you would understand the constant struggle and turmoil I fight on a daily basis. Sometimes the ‘cool’ appearance is really me deep in concentration trying to regain control of my thoughts so my anxiety doesn’t start to manifest outwardly.” — Christy Q.

13. “Usually when I look calm, that is when I am the most anxious and on the verge of a panic attack.” — Carolyn A.

14. “The reason I’m chill is because I’m analyzing everything around me. My back is to the wall and my eyes are catching everything around me as I analyze the potential threat level. It’s difficult to carry on a conversation when your mind and body are on high alert.” — Jazmyne F.

15.The only reason I seem calm and chill is because of my anxiety! My anxiety makes me terrified to react in any way to most situations in fear of upsetting someone else with my opinion or reaction.” — Sarah L.

16. I’m super laid back but often my heart is racing and my thoughts are so intrusive sometimes I can’t speak or comprehend what’s being said to me. Hence the blank stares and delay in responding.” — Zed W.

17. “I’m trying to hold it all together.” — Jeanie M.

17 Secrets of ‘Chill' People With Anxiety

Thinkstock photo via Mistaken Ann.

Originally published: July 19, 2017
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