If you asked someone without anxiety to paint a picture of someone who does have it, what would they paint? It would be of someone bent over or lying on the floor, screaming and crying, unable to breathe. Although that picture can be true sometimes, it’s not the full story. It can be so different from what people expect.
This is an illness with a million faces. No two people who suffer from it feel or act exactly the same. Often, it’s so subtle that you might never know that someone is struggling. Anxiety isn’t just freaking out – this is what it really looks like.
It’s Sitting Still
Anxiety doesn’t have to be running around frantic. It can be someone who’s simply sitting there, staring into the distance. It may look like they’re just relaxing, but inside their heads, there’s a war going on that they feel like they’re losing.
A person with anxiety can feel too overwhelmed to move. Their thoughts and fears overtake them and render them completely motionless. They’re not just sitting, they’re not lazy, they’re not daydreaming, they’re petrified. Their mind has left them frozen, unable to carry on.
It’s Feeling Paranoid When Nothing’s Wrong
Everything is a threat to someone with anxiety. Even the most simple things can render them terrified. Some are afraid to leave the house, others are afraid of small spaces, some are afraid of everyday things that most people wouldn’t think twice about.
Have you ever left the house and worried that you might have left the stove on? That’s the entire life of someone with anxiety. They constantly feel like something terrible is happening. The worst part is that they’re often too scared to share their feelings of worry, and you would never know that something is wrong with them.
It’s Lashing Out for No Reason
There’s so much going on in the mind of someone with anxiety. Sometimes, it can all become a bit too much, causing them to explode. They can lash out at the people that they love for no apparent reason. They hate themselves for it, and they would give anything to take it back.
Anxiety forces you to push people away. To the outside world, sufferers can simply look like “bad people”, but that’s not true. This illness makes handling people too hard to deal with. They can even end up pushing away the people that they love the most because they feel too much pressure to be a good friend, partner, or family member.
It’s Looking Alive
To the world around them, sufferers of anxiety look just like anyone else. They go about their lives doing everyday activities and go through the routines of regular, modern life. They appear to be living their life as normal, sometimes they even seem to be thriving. The truth though, is that underneath it all, they feel like they’re dying.
There’s never any rest for them. Being constantly on alert is mentally and physically exhausting. They don’t have the will to keep going on, but somehow, they still do. While they keep on going with their life, they’re not fully there. It’s as if someone else has taken over their body, while the real them is trapped inside their minds, terrified, paranoid, and alone.
Anxiety is so much more than what we see. It isn’t just someone panicking and hyperventilating. It’s someone who’s fighting an internal battle with themselves, unsure of when, or if, it will ever end. Anxiety does not look like the picture we paint of it. Sometimes, you can’t even see it at all.
To those of you reading this who are struggling with this illness, keep fighting. You are strong enough to get past it.