Growing up with anxiety, I always wondered what was wrong with me. I had the same mental faculties as everyone else, I had similar experiences to them, I learned the same things in school. Yet somehow it seemed like they all knew something I didn’t. Otherwise, why was I always so unsure about everything?
It took me a long time before I learned that there was nothing wrong with me. I simply suffered from anxiety, something that was far more common than I thought. Many other people around me were feeling the exact same thing, even though we all felt alone.
It helps now that I’ve spoken to so many others about it, and that those close to me understand at least to a small extent what it’s like.
Here are 3 things people with anxiety want you to know.
1. Life is Exhausting
Those of us who struggle with anxiety don’t realize just how much more exhausting life is for us. We procrastinate, take forever to make decisions, and sometimes just want to lie down in bed and not deal with life. And we feel guilty about it.
From the outside, this may not make sense. If you need to do something, just get it done. However, if you understood how much more difficult anxiety makes it to do things, you would be surprised we get anything done. Every small thing becomes ten times more tiring. Know that we’re not trying to get out of tasks or being lazy. On the contrary, we’re working hard just to keep our heads above water.
2. We Want to Participate
Often, people with anxiety opt out of doing things. Those suffering from social anxiety, in particular, opt out of participating in group activities. While it may look like we are aloof or prefer reading in a corner, that is not necessarily the case. Sure, some people find nothing more satisfying. But most of us would love to participate. It’s just that the risks our anxiety creates for us seem so much bigger than the possible benefits.
If we seem like we’re not all that interested in participating, don’t take it personally. We want to join in and appreciate being asked, but sometimes it just feels too difficult.
3. It’s Not a Personality Trait
This is something we want people to know, but also something we need to learn ourselves. Anxiety is not a personality trait. It’s not who we are. It is not equivalent to being an introvert or enjoying alone time. Rather, it is a troubling feeling we experience so intensely that it makes it difficult to function.
This also means that the above doesn’t have to apply to us indefinitely. Life is exhausting when you’re living with anxiety, but it can get easier. Those of us fortunate enough to find the help of a therapist learn to change the way we think and the way we relate to our anxiety. Life stops being exhausting, although it can still be tiring.
It also means we can begin to participate. Just because we stayed away in the past, doesn’t mean we won’t learn to trust ourselves and join in.
Millions of people suffer from anxiety disorders. We ourselves don’t understand it most of the time, but it makes it that much easier when others have just a little more insight into our lives.