You can often be in a room full of people but feel completely and utterly alone. You can be in a social situation, with a huge grin on your face; eyes wide, speaking and laughing confidently. But inside, your heart is beating so fast you think it possibly may burst through your chest, your hands are clammy, and you can’t stop fidgeting. Your legs are shaking, tapping. Tapping to an unknown beat only you can hear in your mind. Tap. Tap. Tap.
Living with anxiety is far from easy. And having panic attacks at any given time can be nerve wrecking to say the least. But I feel there’s a lot of people out there who live day to day with functioning anxiety. Meaning, you have anxiety to an extent – but you can still socially function. This is perhaps a blessing and a curse. In one sense, the fact you can socialise can be a positive distraction. But it’s always a curse in the sense that people who don’t understand how functioning anxiety works – can often assume your ‘anxiety’ doesn’t exist. Simply because you still have a life, and try to enjoy it where you can.
I just wanted to clear up some common misconceptions for those who aren’t aware of functioning anxiety, and give some helpful tips for those struggling.
- Deception – it’s hugely deceiving for people who aren’t aware of your mental state. Depression is often a side affect of anxiety (or a common mental state which goes hand in hand with anxiety). Meaning that you have ups and downs. Just because you still socialise alot of the time and appear ‘normal’. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are stable, if you know deep down you need help.
- ‘She’s just saying that for attention’ – others who say this about you may do it for a number of reasons. But you know yourself whether you are ill or not. And the everyday struggles you face. Ignore this type of comment, and comtinue to try to combat your demons.
- Talk the talk – sometimes sharing your problems or just admitting something is wrong can be the first step towards recovery.
- Light at the end of the tunnel – although it may not seem like you will ever recover. You can do it. You have to be mentally strong and learn to control your condition. Until it no longer exists. It won’t be easy – you will no doubt, have several break downs along the way. But you can do it!
So next time you assume someone is ok just because they function in a seemingly normal way. How about you don’t assume anything?
Because you don’t know what that person is going through. Maybe their mum just died of cancer and they are battling depression, but their way of dealing with it is to go out and drink with friends?
Everybody deals with their problems in their own ways. What we need less of is judgmental behaviour. We need to raise awareness of the importance of mental health, and start discussion. Because discussion can often lead to cures.