You’re probably well aware by now; but anxiety presents itself in different ways from person to person. In one person, it looks as you’d expect; panic-stricken face, fingernails bitten to the bone and a perpetually-worried disposition, however some anxiety-sufferers continue to function at a remarkably high level; and this can be both a blessing and a curse.
SANE Australia Psychologist, Suzanne Leckie, says that those living with high-functioning anxiety can be perceived by others as achievement-oriented, perfectionistic and highly motivated, however “their own reality is likely to be one of racing thoughts, restless bodies and a sense that they are never doing enough.”
I've been diagnosed with "high functioning anxiety", in which I'm usually called a "perfectionist" and "overachiever" because I'm always busy since it makes me "happy". My biggest fear is when I fail or let people down. I'm currently studying for a HUGE test which will allow me to teach in Texas this upcoming school year as part of Teach for America. I panicked thinking of the idea of failing, and I've been having a difficult time all day because this CAN'T happen. My mind spirals out of control about what would happen if I fail or can't ever pass. When I'm anxious, my mind resorts to the past and feeling like I'm not good enough in both a relationship and friendships, and I work myself up. Instead of forcing myself to workout and study ALL day, I realized I needed to relax. I read my absolute favorite book, "Milk and Honey", made a cup of coffee, and got all cozy in my fuzzy socks then watched a movie. Sometimes you just need a day for you! There's nothing wrong with admitting you need to take a step back and center yourself. Who cares if you don't get your workout in or eat unhealthy for a day, I promise you'll be okay! ❤️ It is such a beautiful thing to be able to experience all of life and it's emotions that come along with it– whether it be happiness, pain, or everything in between. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• "It is part of the human experience to feel pain. Dont be afraid of opening yourself up to it. -evolving." #selflove #mentalhealth #anxiety-disorder #highfunctioninganxiety #poetry #rupikaurpoetry #selfcare
Here’s what sufferers of high-functioning anxiety need you to know:
Voicing the irrational thoughts of anxiety to your family and friends can often make an anxiety-sufferer feel more alone if their audience tries to downplay the significance of what they’re going through. They know it’s not rational. They know it sounds over-thought and out of proportion, but that doesn’t make their emotions any less real, or any easier to deal with. Letting someone know that you’re taking their feelings seriously is essential for creating a safe space that encourages them to share their anxious thoughts.
If your girlfriend has bailed on pizza and wine night three times in the past month, don’t take it personally. It’s not you she doesn’t want to see, it’s likely that she just can’t face doing anything. Functioning at such a high level on a day to day basis can render anxiety-sufferers exhausted and depleted by the time the evenings and weekends roll around. Unfamiliar social situations can be particularly daunting; so try seeing your friend one on one as opposed to in a large group, and she’ll likely feel much more at ease and able to open up.
High functioning anxiety differs from other forms in that those suffering appear to ‘have their shit together.’ They’ll likely enjoy career successes and appear to be #adulting with vigour – but this doesn’t make their anxiety any less of a battle. High functioning anxiety can be confusing to those that aren’t suffering because the disconnect between their external appearance and irrational thought patterns doesn’t quite add up, but know that compartmentalising is often a fundamental tool in the sufferers arsenal. They’re able to turn up for work, be present and achieve a helluva lot; but as soon as work is over they’ll likely have nothing left to give.
As with any mental health disorder, high-functioning anxiety doesn’t run to a schedule. It’s unpredictable and sometimes overwhelming, so bare that in mind if someone you love suffers with it. There will be days where they seem completely fine, happy and in control, and others where they feel paralysed with anxiety. They need you to be by their side through it all, and for you to show patience and pragmatism if things don’t go according to plan.
If you’re looking for ways to cope with anxiety naturally, check out what science says can help, a LOT.