When a friend shared this via Facebook, I realised she might have been sharing a little bit more than just a pretty picture… And I paid attention.
Last week was a week during which several people I know opened up online and admitted to bigger struggles with their mental health.
It made me think – wow, if we weren’t so secretive about this stuff, if we didn’t feel we needed to whisper it, we’d realise that EVERYONE has been there, at some point. And maybe, we’d be reminded to tread a bit more carefully in our daily life, try and be a bit kinder, assume that someone’s sour face has nothing to do with you, and a lot more to do with an invisible weight on their shoulders.
If love can lighten the load, let’s splash some around today. Random acts of kindness can lodge a lot deeper than we realise.
1. They don’t hide their anxiety, they hide their symptoms. To have concealed anxiety isn’t to deny having it – only to do everything in your power to ensure other people don’t see you struggle.
2. They have the most anxiety about having anxiety. Because they are not comfortable letting people see them in the throes of an irrational panic, the most anxiety-inducing idea is… whether or not they’ll have anxiety at any given moment in time.
3. They come across as a paradoxical mix of outgoing but introverted, very social but rarely out. It is not that they are anti-social, just that they can only take being around others incrementally (which is mostly normal). Yet, on the surface, this may come across as confusing.
4. They make situations worse by trying to suppress their feelings about them. They are extremely uncomfortable with other people seeing them in pain, and they don’t want to feel pitied or as though they are compromising anyone’s time. Yet, they make things worse for themselves by suppressing, as it actually funnels a ton of energy into making the problem larger and more present than it already was.
5. They are often hyper-aware and highly intuitive. Anxiousness is an evolutionary function that essentially keeps us alive by making us aware of our surroundings and other people’s motives. It’s only uncomfortable when we don’t know how to manage it effectively – the positive side is that it makes you hyper-conscious of what’s going on around you.
6. Their deepest triggers are usually social situations. It’s not that they feel anxious in an airplane, it’s that they feel anxious in an airplane and are stuck around 50 other people. It’s not that they will fail a test, but that they will fail a test and everyone in school will find out and think they are incompetent and their parents will be disappointed. It’s not that they will lose love, but that they will lose love and nobody will ever love them again.
7. It is not always just a “panicked feeling” they have to hide. It can also be a tendency to worry, catastrophizing, etc. The battle is often (always?) between competing thoughts in their minds.
8. They are deep thinkers, and great problem-solvers. One of the benefits of anxiety is that it leads you to considering every worst case scenario, and then subsequently, how to handle or respond to each.
9. They are almost always “self-regulating” their thoughts. They’re talking themselves in, out, around, up or down from something or another very often, and increasingly so in public places.
10. They don’t trust easily, but they will convince you that they do. They want to make the people around them feel loved and accepted as it eases their anxiety in a way.
11. They tend to desire control in other areas of their lives. They’re over-workers or are manically particular about how they dress or can’t really seem to let go of relationships if it wasn’t their idea to end them.
12. They have all-or-nothing personalities, which is what creates the anxiety. Despite being so extreme, they are highly indecisive. They try to “figure out” whether or not something is right before they actually try to do it.
13. They assume they are disliked. While this is often stressful, it often keeps them humble and grounded at the same time.
14. They are very driven (they care about the outcome of things). They are in equal proportions as in control of their lives as they feel out of control of their lives – this is because they so frequently try to compensate for fear of the unknown.
15. They are very smart, but doubt it. A high intelligence is linked to increased anxiety (and being doubtful of one’s mental capacity are linked to both).
By Brianna West
Artwork by Yaskina Valentina
via The Artelier