Humans are frustrating and complex. Yet, they are all looking for one thing, unconditional love. For those struggling with anxiety, that ultimate goal can be incredibly hard to acquire. They are fearful of interactions and time spent in groups, which deprives them of significant opportunities to build loving relationships. So, when it comes to anxiety and the people you love, it is important that you understand these 30 things that they aren’t telling you. And, #30 might shock you.
#1 Declining Invitations
While it might seem completely counterintuitive, anxious people will decline your invitations even when they really want to be there. It’s often hard to make plans or talk on the phone when anxiety is in the picture. Please know that it isn’t about whether or not they want to spend time with you, but more about how intense their anxiety is at the moment you ask. Don’t give up, keep asking, one day they might surprise you.
We know #5 will surprise you for sure.
#2 Obsessive Thoughts
Even when it appears they are doing “nothing,” their brains are going full force. They will obsess over things that everyone else would let breeze by. They could be inundated with worries about the way someone looked at them, or the fact that their boss failed to say “Good Morning.” Getting lost in their heads is a common struggle.
#3 Getting Up Early
It doesn’t matter how tired they are, they are still up early. Sleep is something that they struggle with because their minds never want to shut off. There’s concern that if they don’t get up early enough, they won’t get all the days tasks accomplished, which will only generate more stress and obsessive thinking.
Then they’ll fall victim to #9.
#4 Worst Case Scenario
No matter how great everything else in their lives and the world around them appears to be going, the anxious person will always fear the worst case scenario. There is an overwhelming dread of something awful awaiting them. Moments of happiness are rare and short-lived.
#5 Conversations on Rewind and Repeat
Anxiety has a tendency to create a mind that overanalyzes every nuance of life. This is especially true when it comes to conversations. So, understand that when you are having a conversation with your anxious loved one he/she will eventually examine, and replay, the whole thing for days and potentially years to come. That individual will be looking for context and insinuation, the things that weren’t said will plague his/her thoughts.
More plaguing occurs with #10.
Anxious people are concerned about a lot of things. But, when you voice your concern for them, then that intensifies the anxiety they feel for themselves. It might be better if you just keep those things quiet.
In this day and age of quick responses, anxious people are very quick to take the blame when someone doesn’t reply right away. They instantly wonder what they have done. Every slow response or seeming “snub” becomes their fault.
And, when you are constantly feeling like you have done something wrong, it is easy to understand why #16 is true.
#8 Losing It
When conversations about the future come up, anxious people are instantly overcome. They can barely keep it together on a daily basis, so when asked to face future plans and goals, they feel like they are having a breakdown. They feel like they are losing it every few days.
It’s one thing to not feel like you have reached the goals you set for yourself. However, your anxious loved one is in a state of constant comparison. He/she wants to know how much success other people of that age have achieved. And, if that success seems higher than your loved one’s current status, more anxiety arises.
These emotions can be overwhelming so please understand the necessity of #20.
Humans make mistakes, but the person suffering from anxiety evaluates every possible infraction. And, then that individual replays those shortcomings and proceeds to attack him/herself for it. This constant beating oneself up, just causes more concerns and feelings of inadequacy.
#11 Can’t Get Out of Bed
There are days when your anxious loved one is going to feel like staying in bed. The brain has been on non-stop all night and sleep has been fleeting, if even existent at all. They are literally too exhausted to function because the anxious thoughts have drained them of all energy.
Those days will probably initiate #17.
#12 Strikes at Any Time
Anxiety isn’t on a clock. It can hit at the most inopportune moments. Your friend, or loved one, cannot predict when the anxiety will come at full force. But, when it does, your job is to offer support.
This truth is why #30 is as shocking as it is.
#13 Different Forms
While most people associate anxiety with panic attacks, it can actually come in different forms. The anxiety you experience from your loved ones might look like annoyance, frustration, or even anger. Imagine not being able to control your own thoughts. Surely you can see how that would be intensely irritating. Don’t worry, it’s not you that these emotional outbursts are directed at, even if you seem to be the one feeling the brunt of it.
But, knowing more about #25 might help you handle the situation better.
Sometimes anxious people just need to be quiet. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are tired, bored, or even sad. The truth is, their minds are so full of constant comparisons, evaluations, and analyzations it can become incredibly hard to stay in step with everything else going on in their lives. Don’t take it personally.
#15 Hard to Understand
Most people who battle anxiety understand that their anxious thoughts are irrational. But, it is that inexplicable aspect of anxiety that can feel like they are being driven mad. They don’t even know how to express why they are anxious, because a lot of times it just doesn’t make sense.
This lack of control undoubtedly contributes to #18.
People with anxiety spend a lot of time walking around in shame. They know that they have said hurtful things while in the midst of feeling scared or overwhelmed. They know that they have declined to attend events that were important to the people who invited them. And, they know that their battles with anxiety are hurting other people. They are sorry for all of that and this brings shame.
#17 Need to be Alone
As much as you might want to believe that you can pull your loved one out of their anxious funk, doing something fun won’t fix it. These are not fleeting moments of down-in-the-dump emotions. The weight of anxiety is exhausting. There are times when they just need to be alone to attempt to relax and set things right in their own heads.
At those moments, please adhere to #20.
#18 Physically Painful
While the emotional pain of anxiety is certainly torturous, there are physical pain aspects as well. And, no, they aren’t all about the pains of a panic attack. Anxiety actually causes headaches, insomnia, heart palpitations, nausea, dizziness, exhaustion, and muscle tension. Anxious people can almost literally tie their stomach in knots and cause damage to their gastrointestinal well-being.
Anxiety fuels contradicting emotions. While they might really want your presence, they can simultaneously really want to be alone. They might be afraid people will notice them, or will ignore their existence, at the same moment. So, you’re not the only wondering what they want or need, they can’t figure it out themselves.
And that is a big contributor to #23.
#20 Don’t Fix
When we love someone, it is a natural response to want to fix whatever ails them. There’s no difference when our loved one suffers from anxiety. However, fixing those issues isn’t on the agenda. All he/she wants from you is that unconditional love we mentioned at the beginning of this piece. Learn to be ok with one another’s flaws; that’s what makes us all beautiful.
#21 Not Obvious
There will be times in which you won’t even realize that your loved one is feeling anxious. And, unless he/she chooses to tell you, you will stay in the dark about it. Just be prepared to respond appropriately when the situation becomes too intense for him/her to handle.
At those moments utilize #29.
We often feel that we can talk people into doing what we want them to do. However, when your anxious loved one is uncomfortable with the plans you are presenting, don’t try to add pressure. Learn to surrender the idea until a more opportune time. Pressuring him/her only makes the anxiety worse.
As disappointed as you may be when your anxious loved one declines an invitation, or tells you that he/she can’t do something, rest assured, the disappointment he/she feels is more intense. They don’t want to let people down, or miss out on fun events. They hate that they are entombed by their anxious thoughts and symptoms. It can be a real joy-thief.
Which explains #26.
While people without anxiety disorders can seem to keep their fears in a straight line, those suffering anxiety have thoughts that zigzag. One small instance of frustration begins an avalanche of potential catastrophic events. A traffic jam could mean termination from the job and never finding employment again. It’s not simply irritating and going to make you a few minutes late. Anxiety does not follow a straight line of rational thought processes, but instead blows everything out of proportion to create more anxious disturbances.
#25 Not Equal
The truth is, no one “anxious” person has the same issue. Anxiety comes in a number of different varieties and specific leanings. People with generalized anxiety are dealing with anxious thoughts about pretty much everything, while those with social anxiety are struggling mostly with situations that involve other people. It’s important to know which type of anxiety your loved one is experiencing.
And know that no matter what, #28 is definitely true.
Anxiety and depression are considered common companions, though not in every individual. And, since most people with anxiety are aware of the link, they are often anxious about experiencing severe bouts of depression or depressive episodes. Just be sure to keep your eye on their behaviors so that you can best help when necessary.
It is important to understand, here, that your loved one is not his/her anxiety. They are just as much a unique individual as anyone else. And, their desires for unconditional love are just as valid and intense as everybody else’s. Understand too, that they are who they are because they have struggled with anxiety. So, as much as it isn’t who they are, it has helped shape who they have become and you need to love them right where they’re at. Separate the person from the problem.
Remind yourself of #28 when things get challenging.
#28 Great Friends
People with anxiety actually make great friends. They are particularly choosy when it comes to who they allow into their circles. So, if you are in, it’s because you feel safe and they enjoy being around you. And, since anxiety stems from a sort of heightened sense of threat, they will always be on the lookout for your well-being. They will think about your emotions and needs because you have entered into their tribe.
#29 Watch Your Words
As we have already discussed, your anxious loved one will be evaluating everything you say. But, more importantly, be sure you don’t try to coax them beyond their limits when they have voiced the fact that they can’t take anymore. And, never tell them to get over it, or that they are being silly. The situation doesn’t feel silly to them, nor do they feel capable of getting over it. Respect their boundaries and watch your words.
Prepare to be shocked with #30!
You may not believe this, but your anxious friend, or loved one, is probably the most courageous person you know. It takes a good deal of guts to face each day when your brain and belly are telling you it is all too hard. When your head is full of thoughts of mass destruction, namely your own, and yet you can still go to work and function, that’s brave.
We can probably learn a lot from our anxious loved ones.
Up Next: 20 Reasons People Don’t Like You and How to Change That