Anxiety is a lot more common than you think but for those who haven't experienced it first hand, it can be hard to understand. Anxiety is not simply being worried or having a lot of stress, those are normal human experiences, anxiety is something different. We have created a video to help you understand what people with anxiety are thinking.
Here are 10 things people with anxiety really wish you knew about them:
1) "I worry about anything and everything."
This may seem extreme but for someone who struggles with anxiety it can be very true. Their brain can start with worrying about one small thing and this can turn into what many call 'cycling'. For example worrying about not having time to study can lead to worrying about not doing well on the test, having a poor GPA, failing a course, not graduating on time, not getting a job after graduation, being seen as a failure, etc.
2) "It is not as simple as 'just stop worrying'."
People with anxiety constantly hear phrases like 'just stop worrying' or 'you are being ridiculous'. These statements are incredibly hurtful because if they could just not worry they definitely would, no one chooses anxiety.
3) "It is not just mental it is physical too."
So many people believe anxiety is 'all in the person's head' but it can also cause a lot of physical symptoms. Anxiety can result in: shortness of breath, nausea, blurry vision, rapid heart rate, chronic pain, and so many other physical manifestations.
4) "Panic attacks can feel like heart attacks."
Panic attacks are the extreme end of physical symptoms of anxiety. These have been described as feeling like heart attacks or feeling like you're dying. They are very real and very scary and can leave someone feeling exhausted.
5) "I can be very good at hiding it."
Not everyone's anxiety is visible, some people are very good at hiding it and may brush it off as stress or lack of sleep. Just because you don't see it, don't disregard someone when they tell you they are suffering.
6) "Anxiety can appear as perfectionism or achievement."
Anxiety can actually result in a high degree of achievement because the sufferer is so focused on being perfect and successful. That does not mean that these 'high-functioning' people are not suffering as well. These people make themselves sick achieving that level of success and are never think they are good enough.
7) "Or sometimes I worry so much that I can't do anything."
This is the other side of the spectrum of anxiety, the point at which it becomes debilitating. The anxiety is so overwhelming that they cannot even bring themselves to start something. The two ends are not mutually exclusive and one person can experience periods of both extremes.
8) "The smallest things can send me spiraling."
Refer to number 1, cycling = spiraling. They cannot control their thoughts they just keep coming to the point that they are in a full blown panic.
9) "Sometimes I just can't focus"
When someone is suffering with anxiety their mind is constantly running. This means that although they want to focus on your conversation or on a project they just can't get their mind to slow down and concentrate on the present moment.
10) "My brain never shuts off."
There is a reason there is a significant correlation between sleeping issues and anxiety. For people with anxiety their brain never stops, they are constantly thinking of new 'what-if' scenarios or worrying about past events.