1. The symptoms of anxiety are not just internal — they’re physical, too.
Anxiety can wreak physical havoc on your life in the form of headaches, insomnia, muscle pain, panic attacks, and more.
2. …But internal symptoms are just as debilitating.
Anxiety is an invisible illness that may not be seen, but is certainly felt. When you deal with anxiety, there’s no separating yourself from the symptoms. You carry the misery in your thoughts, your choices, your relationships, yourself. And sometimes, that weight is so heavy that it feels physical.
3. There are several different types of anxiety — and even those can manifest in different ways.
The most common disorders are Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), which involves chronic, irrational worry about day-to-day things, and Social Anxiety Disorder, which involves a fear of social situations and other people, whether interacting with them or fearing judgment from them, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). There’s also Panic Disorder, which involves sudden and repeated attacks of irrational fear (aka panic attacks), plus intense worry between those episodes.
All that said, even people with the same anxiety disorders experience symptoms differently — so don’t presume to know what someone is going through. Anxiety is not one-size-fits-all.
4. We cancel plans last minute not because we’re jerks, but because some days we wake up and can’t imagine leaving the house.
Taking time away from work/friends/obligations doesn’t mean we don’t like being social… it just means sometimes we need a break.
5. Meditation and relaxation techniques do not work for everyone.
While these techniques sometimes do help alleviate symptoms, suggesting them as a cure-all can be incredibly frustrating for someone with anxiety.
6. Finding the right therapist who is both effective and covered under your health insurance can be such a daunting and difficult task, that many people give up on getting help.
While mental health is partially covered, it’s hard for people without health insurance, or who cannot afford copays, to make their mental health a priority.
7. A lot of people who have anxiety also suffer from depression.
The two exhausting, debilitating struggles can come hand-in-hand. Nearly one-half of people who are diagnosed with depression also have an anxiety disorder.
8. Requests we make that might make us seem uptight are actually things that make us feel safe.
Like if we ask who’s going to be at the party you invited us to or if we want to make an exact plan rather than ~winging~ it. Uncertainty and open-endedness can exacerbate anxiety so details that seem insignificant are actually huge helps.
9. Anxiety can make you question relationships completely irrationally, so please don’t take it personally if we express doubts sometimes.
Having anxiety can mean anything from questioning if your friend actually wants you to go to the movies, to wondering if you’re really loved. So reminding us that we’re important to you might seem like it’s obvious… but it’s super important.
10. Anxiety doesn’t need a reason.
Anxiety and panic attacks can have a pin-pointed cause (like a job interview, exam, or break-up) or they can occur essentially out of thin air. Having anxiety means you might not always be able to understand why you feel the way you do.
11. Suffering from anxiety doesn’t make you weak, and it doesn’t make you damaged goods.
Having anxiety, or any mental illness, doesn’t make you any “less” of a person. It just makes you, you.