The Truth Behind the Hidden Anxiety
Overachiever, perfectionist, detail oriented, these are just a few of the terms that people use to describe people with “high-functioning” anxiety. While “high-functioning” anxiety is not an official diagnosis it is used to describe those who are driven by their anxiety instead of left frozen in panic. It’s a struggle that a lot of people don’t understand. It’s not understood because from the outside looking in people who identify as having high functioning anxiety it appears as though they have everything together. These people are the life of the party, they excel in their career or in school and they appear to be more than organized, but let me tell you from first-hand experience that these aspects that you see as a positive are often just coping mechanisms.
Anxiety is something I never imagined being a personal struggle. I grew up with enough to worry about when it came to my health, but as I got older I had to face the music that my mental health is just as important as my physical health. I didn’t understand why my brain never stopped running or why I could never let things go. I make lists for everything, EVERYTHING. It’s my way of attempting to clear my mind. I often over analyze every conversation, interaction with friends and co-workers, and then I constantly worry about what I could have done differently. Something as simple as not getting a text back sends me into the abyss as to what I did wrong. In essence I go from zero to one hundred in the blink of an eye and I don’t even realize I’m doing it. It took me a long time to come to terms with anxiety, partially because I felt that I had to have everything together, but I realized that this was a “defect” of the condition. In reality my heart races constantly and I’m forced to laser focus on the task at hand in order to not lose my mind.
Explaining to others that you have anxiety can be scary. Very scary. It’s made even worse when you can’t explain to others what’s wrong or how they can help you. For me and others who deal with high functioning anxiety it can be that much worse. On the surface we are like ducks, calm, cool, and collected, but just below the surface we’re working at 100 mph just to stay afloat. In light of National Suicide Prevention week I felt it was important to share my struggle to let others know that they’re not alone. Dealing with any mental health issue is important and can sometimes be the difference between life and death. While explaining your struggle with anxiety or depression may seem like a daunting task just know I’m always a listening ear. Whether we’re friends, strangers, or family I’m always here.