“I’m anxious." “This gives me anxiety." These are common phrases heard every day that people WITH anxiety are sick of hearing. Anxiety is a monster and takes its toll on over 18 percent of the American population. Anxiety can affect children, teenagers, and adults. Today I’m going to share eight common misconceptions that people with anxiety are tired of hearing.
1. Just stop being anxious.
Ah. IF ONLY. Anxiety isn’t something we can just “turn off.” As much as we would like to, anxiety consumes the mind and is constantly there. You know the little angel and devil on your shoulder? Anxiety is the devil that never goes away. As much as people with anxiety would like to “stop it,” they can’t.
2. You’re overreacting.
This is a personal favorite of mine. People with anxiety DO in fact overreact, but it isn’t by choice. Our heads are filled with constant “what ifs” and horrible scenarios that just won’t go away. A small situation turns into a huge situation that constantly keeps building. As much as we would like to take in the situation as is, our little friend in the back of our mind amplifies the severity by 10. As much as we would like to “stop overreacting,” it’s extremely difficult. If you think that we like to constantly overreact you couldn’t be more wrong. The only thing we wish we COULD do is take the situation for how it is.
3. You’re way too sensitive.
A simple joke, insult, or comment can ruin our whole day. Sure you probably didn’t mean any harm by joking about our new hair cut or the clothes we are wearing, but it will stay with us. Negativity of any kind constantly gets replayed in the back of our minds and affects us. The smallest things can be taken the wrong way and will be taken as a shot. People with anxiety tend to be more self conscious as it is and hearing a joke or comment will only increase their unhappiness with themselves. As much as we would like to let the jokes slide right off, it’s hard to.
4. You were in a good mood two minutes ago.
Anxiety comes in waves. Things can trigger it without the person knowing why. We can be in a happy, incredible mood, and switch in a second. As much as we wish we could control the mood swings that come with this disease, we can’t. Anxiety comes in dark, dark waves and washes over your entire being swallowing you up. Sooner than you know you become consumed in terrible thoughts when you were just so ecstatic minutes ago.
5. You’re pushing me away.
Maintaining relationships while having anxiety is an extremely difficult thing to do. People with anxiety constantly think the worst in relationships. There is always someone or something better out there. Shutting ourselves off from the world is a way we cope with the absence of being able to build strong relationships. As soon as someone gets close to us we tend to think their intentions will only last so long. “They’ll find better friends.” “He’ll find someone better than me.” As much as it eats away at us to push away anyone close, it’s hard not to.
6. You can’t use your anxiety as an excuse.
We are most certainly NOT trying to do this. As much as it may seem sometimes, this is not the goal. It’s hard to explain to people without this what is going on in our head. Sometimes it needs to be said that we have anxiety. As much as it may seem as an excuse, it isn’t. It is so difficult to try to explain to someone what is going on in your head when you don’t even understand it yourself. Although sometimes we may say that our anxiety is acting up or that we’re feeling anxious, it isn’t meant to be an excuse. Pity is the last thing we want. It is just so difficult to explain to someone why you are acting the way you are.
7. You’re such a negative nellie.
As much as we try to be positive, it is extremely difficult. Coping with constant negative thoughts and “what ifs” in the back of your mind tends to have an effect on your mood. It becomes hard to enjoy simple, happy things and creates a constant negative attitude. People with anxiety can be the happiest people or the most negative; It all depends on how we work on and adjust to our situations.
8. You never want to go out.
Being in social situations with a lot of people can be very difficult for people with anxiety. Being surrounded by people you aren’t familiar with can be uncomfortable. Seeing people whispering and looking at you turns into, “They’re talking about me.” You just can’t seem to have fun at parties without worrying about every little thing happening around you. “What if the cops come?” “They hate me.” Constant thoughts that are so wrong and irrelevant, but constantly there. There is such a thing as an introverted extrovert, and I think this can apply to many with anxiety. Being in big crowds tends to make people with anxiety uncomfortable and nervous and can result in being in a bad mood, wanting to leave or not go out again.
Anxiety is a disease that is both mentally and physically draining. People with anxiety deal with many different battles day in and day out. I think it’s important to understand and accept anxiety for what it is. Understanding that some effects are out of the person’s control, is extremely important. We all need to understand that this is a disease, not a mood.
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