The Mighty Logo

31 Secrets of People Who Live With Anxiety

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness in America, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). The condition affects 40 million adults in the United States. That’s 18% of the U.S. population.

Despite this, people with anxiety disorders still live with a stigma often associated with invisible conditions. So we asked our readers with anxiety what they wished the world could understand about it.

This is what they had to say:

1. “I do realize the things I worry about are ridiculous. Even though I’m aware, I can’t just stop it.” — Erika Strojny Myers

2. “I might look like I’m doing nothing, but in my head I’m quite busy.” — Diane Kim

3. “I don’t always know why I’m anxious.” — Teri-Marie Harrison

4. “It’s [debilitating].” — Marlene Pickering

“Just because you don’t understand doesn’t mean my fears aren’t real.”

5. “I don’t just ‘get nervous.’ Heck, half the time I’m not even nervous when I’m having a panic attack — I’m anxious. Sometimes it’s for no reason I can identify. When I’m anxious and nervous I recognize some of it is irrational, but I can’t just snap out of it. My mind and body aren’t cooperating with reason.” — Alex Wickham

6. “I’m not being ridiculous or dramatic.” — Melissa Kapuszcak

7. “We don’t need someone to look at us like we’re crazy. We need someone to be compassionate.” — Kristen Cunningham

8. “I don’t want to feel this way.” — Jenny Genoway

9. “After a hectic day, especially after being in crowds or dealing directly with multiple people, I have a ‘people hangover’ the next day. I need alone time to reboot from all the energy used. I have to rest and reset my mind. If I don’t, I will become bone-tired, overwhelmed and moody.” — Lisa Shuey

10. “It’s totally possible to have social anxiety and be a raging extrovert.” — May Daonna

11. “You can’t just stop worrying. There is no ‘on’ or ‘off’ switch.” — Kim Derrick-Bené

12. “Even though we look OK on the outside, our anxiety is wreaking havoc on our insides.” — Cynthia Adams McGrath

13. “I’m being attacked by something I can’t escape from.” —  Sherri Paricio Bornhoft

14. “No matter how irrational I may sound, it’s real to me.” — Lorri Smith

15. “Saying, ‘you will be fine’ doesn’t help.” — Thea Baker

16. “It’s not a choice. You don’t choose to have anxiety. It chooses you.” — Patricia Lynn

17. “It’s sometimes so exhausting and distracting that I may be forgetful or unproductive, but it’s not me trying to be thoughtless, lazy or make excuses.” — Anna Powers

18. “It’s real. I’m not overreacting.” — Kimberly Warren

19. “Anxiety [is] an illness. You can’t just get over mental illness.” — Heather Morello

20. “Anxiety and worrying are not the same things.” — Amy Hrynyk

“All the logic in the world won’t keep my heart from hammering in my chest.”

21. “Prayer doesn’t make it disappear.” — Kayla Gosse

22. “Just because I can’t explain the feelings causing my anxiety, doesn’t make them less valid.” — Lauren Elizabeth

23. “I’m not crazy.” — Peggy Hess

24. “All the logic in the world won’t keep my heart from hammering in my chest.” — Rebecca V Cowcill

25. “Even the simplest tasks can be overwhelming at times.” — Rhonda Bodfield

26. “It’s uncontrollable.” — Asia Pope

27. “Just because you don’t understand doesn’t mean my fears aren’t real.” — Vicki Happ

28. “It feels as if the weight of the world is on your shoulders. You feel suffocated.” — Danielle Nicole Box

29. “I’m not doing it for attention.” — Georgia Tsaganis Johnson

30. “The smallest things can set me off. The more trapped I feel, the worse off I am. Personal space will always make me feel better.” — Manda Ree

31. “My mind is my enemy, so I need you on my side. Sometimes I even need you to fight alongside me.” — Erin Farmer-Perrine

What would you add? Tell us in the comments below. 

31 Secrets of People Who Live With Anxiety

Getty Images photo via Tara Moore

Originally published: May 19, 2015
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home