High functioning anxiety is the absolute worst.
Want to know why?
Because no one knows you struggle with it. Not even you.
The thing about being able to function at a high capacity with anxiety is that it takes over your life… quietly. You might not realize that anxiety is what causes the annoying little things in your life that you have just learned to live with.
If you learn: 1. That you have it, and 2. That there are ways to fight it,
then life without these annoying little things is possible!
Yeah. You heard me.
Here are 6 annoying little things that you have learned to live with if you have high-functioning anxiety:
You have chronic digestive problems.
Do you frequently just not feel super well in your gut? What about your appetite? Do you find yourself not hungry for a couple days, and even if you try to eat it’s like your gut just gets mad at you? Or, if you’re hungry and you do eat, do you just always seem to feel sick afterwards?
Anxiety seriously influences the gut. It can change your appetite on a moment’s notice, or it can completely reject whatever you’ve eaten even if you do feel hungry. You can get all cramped up after eating, or you can feel sick and hungry all at the same time.
When I was younger my doctors told me that the reason I was getting sick every single morning before school is because I had heartburn and that I would grow out of it. (*eye roll*)
OR I WAS JUST AN ANXIOUS KID WHO COULDN’T KEEP HER FOOD DOWN.
You consider muscle tension normal.
Our bodies are freaking machines. They know what is wrong before we are even aware. Muscle tension can occur after random surges of stress, or can persist over a period of time in seasons of high anxiety. It can occur in any muscle group, last for a couple minutes, a few hours, over a few days at a time, or even for months.
Muscle tension is what happens when our bodies are on high alert for an extended period of time. Soreness and normal muscle pain can be normal, especially after exercise or physical exertion. However, muscle tension caused by anxiety can seemingly come “out of nowhere” and be difficult to relieve.
For example: I grind and clench my teeth at night when I am under high stress or anxiety. When my anxiety was at its peak and I was unaware that anxiety was what I was fighting, my jaw locked up and I couldn’t open my mouth. The muscles in my jaw and neck seized up and I was unable to chew or do anything. It last for over a year as my dentist explained it away by my teeth needing to be realigned… I should have just gone on anxiety meds then.
You constantly seek validation.
Anxiety has this funny way of looking like doubt. It causes us to run around in circles- even after we feel like we made a decision- because we need to “make sure.”
A sure sign of a chronic struggle with anxiety is indecisiveness and the need for reassurance from the people around you. Those who struggle with anxiety don’t trust themselves to make the right decisions for themselves and don’t trust that they have the ability to know what to do without other people telling them.
The opposite of anxiety is faith, and the foundation and need for faith is security. Anxiety is the response to feeling insecure and unsupported. So, a natural response is to seek constant validation from external support systems to feel secure in making any sort of decision.
You suddenly get compulsive.
Anxiety is often caused by the feeling of being out of control. Control is the one thing that an anxious person really wants because it mitigates the need to be worried or fearful of the unknown. This causes those who struggle with anxiety to suddenly get compulsive- especially when presented with a high-stress situation.
Although there is some discussion about whether compulsive behavior comes from anxiety, or if compulsive behavior causes anxiety, the two go hand in hand for the most part. The desire and need to control causes someone who struggles with anxiety to take control of a situation that they can. Whether that is obsessive cleaning when they are stressed, or organizing, or picking at fingernails or skin, or controlling food, going shopping, hoarding, ect.
Compulsive behavior is simply using a behavior obsessively to control the uncontrollable emotions inside.
You fidget and have other obsessive, habitual behaviors.
Although everyone can behave in these ways normally, there are behaviors that become habits that may be subtle signs of a deeper anxiety mental illness. The ability to recognize these behaviors as being beyond normal is key in helping with a diagnosis.
Some of these behaviors include:
- Avoidant behavior
- Irrational fears
- Obsessive thinking (nonlinear)
- Excessive worrying
- Inability to concentrate or focus
- Self destructive “nervous” habits (biting nails, pulling out hair, picking at skin, ect.)
- Clenching the jaw/grinding teeth
- Digestive issues/loss of appetite
- Obsessive perfectionism
You can’t stop thinking.
Let me try and explain this…
Let’s be honest though, words don’t do the GIF justice.
Life’s circumstances simply won’t let you rest. There are too many worst-case-scenarios to think of and last resort plans to make.
But seriously, the constant and chaotic and incoherent thought processes rarely stop. Often people who struggle find ways of coping with these thoughts by running away from them and letting the brain flat line for a bit. That can look like taking a lot of naps, or bingeing on Netflix, or exercising for hours on end. Basically, it looks like a lot of avoidant behaviors to escape the chaos in the mind.
Now, we know that a lot of these behaviors and signs can seem relatively normal. All people have seasons of stress and anxiety. But, those who struggle with chronic anxiety do so on a normal basis- to the point where these things are so normal for them that they can’t imagine living life without coping with these things.
Simply surviving a life with anxiety isn’t living life like it is meant to be lived. It is possible to truly thrive; to cope and fight anxiety in healthy ways that don’t disrupt your life.