Anxiety is a recurring emotion in everyone’s life. It pushes us to pay attention to danger and prepare better for a situation. For most of us, this is temporary and situational but for almost 30% of adults, this anxiety can become a disorder with longer impact and physical responses.In this blog post, we talk to those living with anxiety to understand the 5 things they want us to know about high functioning anxiety.
There are several types of anxiety disorders, and while “High Functioning Anxiety” is not an official diagnosis, it is being commonly used to refer to people who appear to be high-achieving but live with constant internal stress.
A few psychologists recognise high functioning anxiety and have said that high-functioning anxiety is still a chronic mental health issue and has a lasting impact on your health, relationships, and self-esteem.
Here are lived experiences of people with high functioning anxiety and what they want you to know.
1) We are not overthinking / over - preparing.
Ayushi: Just because my mental illness is not tangible doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. I often anticipate all scenarios and prepare for it and this is characterised as a behavioural trait instead of a disease that I have to constantly fight. I end up overcompensating on a lot of things I do because of this.
Kiran: It took me a while to even comprehend that this was an actual condition. People often called me names for getting upset over the smallest of things. I would go out of my way to be prepared for every scenario so it wouldn’t catch me by surprise.
2) My illness exists regardless of how visible (or not) it is
Nayan: There’s a common notion that an illness has to be tangible for it to be valid or that I have to act a certain way for my anxiety to be valid but it takes different forms and it is a continuous struggle to learn to manage it and understand appropriate responses for it.
Kiran: I do a really good job at hiding my anxiety and this makes people think that I’m dealing with it. I mostly am and I am actively trying to work at it to ensure I am in a better place but the misconception that a person has to look a certain way when they are suffering sets us back.
3) Don’t tell me to "Just get over it"
Ayushi: I have to actively work on identifying my stressors and go back to coping mechanisms that will help me navigate it. I’ve had to change the way my life functions to a large extent. I meditate, do physical activity and do yoga. While I make progress, some situations can also set me back sometimes and it’s discouraging and very unhelpful when people ask me to just get over it or to just be happy.
4) I have to put effort into having a seemingly normal day.
Kiran: I constantly live with the fear of not being good enough or not being successful enough, this drives me to work for long hours and sometimes results in sleepless nights. I have to put in consistent work to calm myself down and reassure myself. Everytime I do have a good day, it comes from a lot of effort.
5. I want people to listen to us more
Nayan: I make an effort to communicate my emotions and constantly reach out to people on how I’m feeling and how they can help but oftentimes they make assumptions about my situation which can end up worsening it. Sometimes the most helpful thing can be to stop and listen to what we have to say and how they can support us.