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What My Anxiety Tells Me When It Speaks

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Anxiety is a tricky thing. It can appear out of nowhere, for no reason. It can change the direction of our entire day, week or even year. It can debilitate us. It can tell us lie after lie. Anxiety speaks loud sometimes, and other times it is like a soft whisper — constantly there. Knowing where the anxiety ends and where you begin is frustrating. Sometimes every decision is driven by the voice of anxiety, like one by one your anxiety runs your life.

Here are some things anxiety tells me.

“You are not good enough.”

My anxiety is like the opposite of a cheerleader sitting on the sideline of my life. It constantly reminds me I am not good enough. It tells me I’ll never accomplish my goals; why even start them? It makes me anxious to do anything I might fail at. It raises its voice at me when I want to start something new. It gives me an overall feeling I’ll never amount to anything.

“You left (fill in the blank) on.”

This constantly irritates me. Especially at night. I will know I never turned the oven on today, but as I am trying to sleep, I get this overwhelming panic I forgot to turn the oven off. So, I get up. I check the oven, and sure enough it is off. Twenty minutes later I am doing the same thing. Over and over again all night long.

“All your friends hate you.”

I am in a constant battle between thinking I said something horribly offensive and reassuring myself they wouldn’t be my friends if they didn’t like me. My anxiety tells me I will only push people away. Or that they are only my friends because they feel bad for me. Often times this keeps me at bay with becoming friends with people. I am constantly worrying if I said something or did something to upset them. One unreturned text message and I have created an entire story in my head on why they hate me.

“You are unlovable.”

This one stings. Feeling unlovable goes along with feeling people hate you. My constant state of hypervigilance can be a lot for someone to handle. When I neurotically check to make sure I turned something off, locked something or did something in the right order, I fear I am too exhausting for someone to ever love. Even when people tell me they love me, my anxiety kicks back with, they are lying. It makes me feel hopeless and lost.

“You won’t have enough money.”

My anxiety makes me worry I’ll never make it to the end of the month. Even though I do every time. It makes me worry I won’t have enough money to ever buy a car or buy a house someday. It makes me feel stuck in a pattern of worrying about my future. My anxiety tells me to worry already about the student loan debt I’ll have to start paying in two years. It makes me worry about what if my car broke down and I needed repairs. It projects worry to circumstances that may or may not ever happen.

“You are dying.”

I live in a constant state that says I am dying. It tells me I have some horrible disease that I am dying from. Also, my panic attacks make me feel like this is it. I am done. I am going to die right now. They make me feel like it is all over.

“You are a failure.”

No matter how many successes I have. My anxiety will always tell me I am a failure. It will bring up that one paper I wrote in seventh grade. Or the one project that was a bust five years ago. It will keep me from pursuing my dreams and keep me in a constant state of worry. It will tell me I’ve always been a failure and I will always be one.

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“People are staring at you.”

I can’t go outside to get my mail, I can’t go on a walk, I can’t go into a store, without the feeling that people are staring at me and judging me. My anxiety tells me I am being watched. I find it difficult to be in public without feeling like people are judging every move I am making. It gets worse, then they are whispering about me. My anxiety tells me it is not safe to be outside in public.

“You worry too much.”

Ironic, huh? My anxiety makes me worry about my anxiety. It tells me I worry too much and that I need to stop worrying. It makes me think I am going “crazy.” It tells me I am out of control. It isn’t lying though. I do worry too much, but it makes my anxiety even worse worrying about how much I worry.

I wish I knew a magic secret to get rid of anxiety. I wish there was a magic pill, or mantra I could say. A combination of talk therapy and medication seems to help take the edge off. When my anxiety gets out of control it can be so hard to reign it back in. Panic attacks can happen every day and leave you exhausted and hopeless. One remaining hope I have found is that I am not alone. Feeling isolated in your anxiety is awful. Knowing I am not the only one staying up for hours at night worrying about one thing after another gives me some solace. Being open about our anxiety can give hope to others experiencing the same thing, and it is that hope that can give us the extra nudge we need to keep going.

Getty image via tomozina

Originally published: July 11, 2020
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