You could ask me one simple question, but my anxiety turns it into 20 questions within seconds.
“Are you okay?” becomes “Why are they asking me that?”, “Do I not look okay?”, “Have I done something?”, “Am I in trouble?”
That’s the best way I describe it to people. I worry about everything, even to the point I worry about worrying.
A lot of people just say “don’t worry” or “you’ve got nothing to worry about”. I then feel stupid … and then worry about feeling stupid.
At first, I would just shrug my shoulders and keep my anxiety to myself – until I began to understand that this was who I am, how I thought and how I dealt with things. I then began to talk more. I openly told people about my anxiety – a lot were supportive but didn’t understand, and that led to frustration on both sides.
I found that educating people on my anxiety and the ways my head worked, helped them to be able to support me much more. I used to start by saying, “okay this may sound crazy, but this is what my head is thinking right now…”
Now there’s no one implying I’m crazy, and I’m comfortable enough to explain how my mind works and answer any question asked (though I will still add another 20 in my head when they do).
I find that a lot of people think that anxiety is something which people fake or is just attention-seeking. Oh, how I wish that it was fake, at least I’d be able to switch it off! As for the attention seeking, it couldn’t be further from the truth for me. Like many people I’m still struggling not to see my anxiety as a weakness, so the last thing I want is attention.
What I do want is for people to be able to talk openly and freely about mental health without being judged or avoided and thought of as a weirdo! I may have anxiety, but I’m still me.