What Living with Anxiety is Really Like
Inside an anxious mind.
This article doesn’t offer a scientific explanation of what anxiety is, nor does it go over the common physical symptoms, simply because the majority of people know that information already. What they may not know, is everything that goes through the mind of someone with anxiety on a daily basis and thus, this is meant to describe exactly what an anxious person is thinking in everyday situations, and the consequences of those thoughts. It’s important to know what is going on inside their mind to be able to better understand their emotions and actions. To the millions out there with these same experiences, you’re not alone!
Here are two of the most common everyday experiences that can be very stressful for someone with anxiety and why.
1. Romantic Relationships
Relationships are beautiful and can bring out the best in people, however for those with anxiety it can be a bit more challenging and it’s important to find a partner who understands that. For an anxious person in a relationship, the slightest change in their partner’s routine can get their mind going. For example, if their partner always says “I love you,” before going to sleep and just a couple times they’re so tired from work that they go to sleep without saying it, their mind starts to play tricks on them and they will begin to think their partner’s feelings are changing for them. This leads to them thinking of all the different reasons why they could be changing and can really bring them down. All the while, their partner loves them just as much and was just exhausted. On the other hand, changes in their partners lives like getting a new job, can cause discomfort for a person with anxiety. They’ve seen in movies and heard the stories of someone in a relationship meeting someone new at work and having an affair or leaving their partner for them (which yes, it does happen). But of course, the person with anxiety is already thinking of their partner becoming interested in someone else and is already worried about who they might be working with when they haven’t even started the job yet. Thus, instead of focusing on being happy for them getting a new job, the negative thoughts are taking over and their partner may not feel like they are getting the support they want. This makes the person with anxiety feel more anxious because they are happy for them and don’t want to take away from their good news, but their mind is already full of negative thoughts and fear.
Furthermore, when it comes to intimacy, the anxious mind is unfortunately still running. They could be in the middle of intercourse with their partner and suddenly think they don’t look good or that their partner isn’t enjoying it, and it will not be pleasurable anymore. This can happen to anyone, however for someone with anxiety it happens more frequently and more intensely. This could lead to a decrease in sexual activity within the relationship, which could lead to more worries of their partners losing interest in them.
When it comes to their partner going out with their friends, this also brings on anxiety. Even though they may not think their partner is going to cheat, the anxious mind thinks of other things such as if he or she is going to meet someone new and spark an uncontrollable interest, or if their partner’s friends who are single bring other single people around it could create more opportunity for something to happen. Others would say, ”well if you trust them you should be fine”, but for someone with anxiety they’re always thinking and worrying about the worst cases regardless if they trust them or not. This of course can impact the relationship because when their partner goes out they are filled with fear and their mood changes. Their partner may start to feel guilty and stay more which could lead to resentment.
As you can imagine, it would be exhausting to have all these thoughts on top of keeping up with other everyday things such as work, school, friends and family. Which brings me to my next point, aside from romantic relationships social settings are some of the most anxiety provoking experiences for someone struggling with this illness.
2. Social Settings
Doing anything social for someone with anxiety can feel like the hardest thing ever! The worst part is they often want to meet new friends and engage in social activities, but the mental illness makes it so much more difficult. This can be present with co-workers, friends, classmates, family...anyone.
Even if they’ve been friends for years, when a person with anxiety is meeting their friend they are often thinking about what they are going to talk about before they get there. They worry they won’t have enough to say or enough topics to keep the conversation going for the duration of their hangout and worry that there will be awkward moments. As a result, they will want to hangout for a shorter period of time to have the discomfort over with. This could cause their friends to feel like they never want to spend a lot of time with them. They may have a friend or two that they are completely comfortable with and will tend to spend more time with them, which will make their other friends feel less valued.
When it comes to co-workers or classmates, the person with anxiety usually isn’t the joker of the group that everyone loves or the most popular. They aren’t comfortable completely being themselves yet. They are nice to others and might make some friends, but it seems like other co-workers just click better and they start to feel anxious/sad that they aren’t meeting friends as fast. It seems like they’re never building a connection that everyone else is and they begin to think of all the reasons why and often they are negative thoughts about themselves. When an opportunity comes up to meet outside of work or school, the other co-workers/classmates already have their close group and arrive together, but the one with anxiety often shows up alone. These events aren’t fun when they’re not feeling comfortable. They don’t want to be the boring one, but they aren’t comfortable enough to show everything about themselves even if they might be a funny, cool person. Of course co-workers/classmates that are outgoing and don’t have anxiety are all having a blast, and won’t even notice.
As a result, they might not go to as many things and will miss out on getting to know other people. They will want to go out, but at the same time will feel more comfortable alone at home. They will wish they didn’t have these thoughts and feelings and could be free like a lot of other people.
There are varying degrees and some may have more anxiety than others. Some may read this and think that never happens to them, but for a lot it does. If you ever see someone who’s more quiet or seems weird, it’s important to remember that they may be living with anxiety or another mental illness. They are still great people who can do anything, they are unfortunately just living with these thoughts in their head and are doing their best to get through each day.