I walk around every day, trying to ~adult~, with a constant companion by my side: anxiety. It’s the little (sometimes, shouty) voice in my head that’s constantly telling me I said the wrong thing, did the wrong thing, even just ~am~ the wrong thing.
The worst part of all of it is the strain it can have on relationships — especially with those friends who don’t suffer from the disorder. Every text, every invitation out, every birthday party is just one more thing for my anxiety to hold me hostage over. And it’s not all in my head. Back aches, throbbing headaches, and a queasy stomach are just some of the physical forms that the condition can take in my life.
If you’re lucky enough not to have the spirit-crushing beast of anxiety breathing down your neck, but have a friend, family member or co-worker who does, I put together a list of things that might help you understand what they’re going through a little bit more:
1. Anxiety can hit out of nowhere, for no apparent reason.
Photo: Columbia Pictures
2. When someone doesn’t want to hang out, sometimes it’s the anxiety talking.
3. Sometimes a quiet night ~in~ is the only thing someone with anxiety can handle when it comes to social activities.
Photo: Universal Pictures
4. When you’ve got anxiety, it tells you to replay every conversation that you have in your head.
5. Anxiety can be both mentally and physically debilitating.
6. When a panic attack comes on, sometimes you just need a quiet place to help it come down.
7. Being around a lot of people you don’t know can bring out the worst for someone with anxiety.
8. The disorder can feel like there’s a bag over your head and you can’t breathe.
9. Social anxiety can affect someone even when they’re hanging out with their closest buddies.
10. Shaky hands, trouble breathing, a pounding headache, sharp back spasms, and trouble seeing are all signs of a panic attack coming on.
11. Anxiety can make a stomach so upset you have trouble eating.
Photo: Focus Features
12. If someone who has anxiety doesn’t respond to your text message, it’s not necessarily because they didn’t read it or that they’re ignoring you.
It’s that their anxiety’s telling them whatever they respond will be the wrong thing to say.
Photo: Australian Open
13. Sometimes even taking a subway ride is too many people for an anxious person.
14. Talking on the phone can give someone just as much uneasiness as talking and being around people IRL.
Photo: Universal Pictures
15.Turning off your anxiety isn’t as easy as switching off a button.
16. When someone has anxiety, it’s part of who they are — for better or worse.
17. Sometimes the disorder can make it hard to connect with people, but don’t give up on them.
Photo: Fox 2000 Pictures