Anxiety from the outside looking in…

So in previous blog posts, I’ve shared strategies I use when I feel my anxiety creeping up, and how eating the wrong foods contributes to my anxiety, but I wanted to do another post about what it looks like from the outside when I have anxiety.

Just like everyone responds differently when they are in pain, everyone with anxiety can look different on the outside. When I have increased anxiety, I respond very similar to when I am in pain… I go quiet. This can be alarming to the people around me because I think I do a good job of interacting with my friends and colleagues, even though I am naturally an introvert. When I have increased anxiety, I spend more time alone, and when I have to be around people, I spend that time being quiet. Many times from the outside looking in it can seem like I am sad, or even mad at someone, because I am not responding, or responding in very short clipped sentences. Often times at church my kids would get asked the question: Why does your mom always look so sad/mad? Man is that so hard hear! Especially when delivered by your own children.

Even though it may seem that way, I am not sad or angry, I am overwhelmed. I am trying to manage everything that is going on inside me (both mental and physical symptoms), and in order to do that I need to go silent and focus all my energy on maintaining my outside composure so that it doesn’t turn into a full blown anxiety attack. (I promise you… you don’t want it to get ugly. Ask my family… as that is my safe space where sometimes crap happens.) While this is happening, stimuli from the outside (noises, movement, light) seem much louder, brighter and more chaotic than normal. I’m just trying to hold it all together. If I have been fighting an exceptionally long battle, I may appear exhausted or even sometimes spacey… like I have checked out for a bit… and I probably have. If I have made it to this stage, I am probably going to go home and go straight to bed. Getting plenty of rest helps me recover from my anxiety more quickly, and keeps me from becoming run down and sick.

While others use their breaks to have fun, I use my breaks to rest and recuperate. Heck, yesterday, I barely got out of my favorite chair and I wore my jammies all day. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t get anything done… I did. I just means I completed as many tasks from the comfort of my chair as possible. If you have anxiety, you can feel guilty that you aren’t out there on your breaks partying it up. Or that you aren’t being as productive as you could be. Be patient with yourself, and give yourself the care you need. And if you don’t have anxiety, you can feel frustrated when your friend or partner with anxiety sometimes doesn’t want to party it up with you. Be patient with them. Give them the break they need. This could look like them staying home while you party on, or it could look like you cuddling in your PJs with them.

It probably looks like a little of both.

Enjoy the Dance! ;D

Rebecca Rée

Feature image thanks to Freepik

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