High Functioning Anxiety – When the World Thinks You’re OK

Mental Health / Monday, September 11th, 2017

When people feel anxious they’ll often get butterflies in their stomach, maybe their heart will race a little and they’ll start to sweat. All of this is really normal when you’re in an anxiety inducing situation. It’s the body’s response to the given circumstance and once that changes, normal service resumes.

What if it’s not that simple though? What if anxiety doesn’t just peak when a person gets scared or angry? For some people heightened anxiety is  a way of life, some people have forgotten what it feels like to live anxiety free for the most part.

For me, anxiety makes up a hefty percentage of who I am . I’m continually in a state of fight or flight, always looking over my shoulder and waiting for disaster to strike. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a ‘woe me’ post, it’s fact. I have an anxiety disorder that if I let it, would control my life. Luckily for me, if this makes me lucky, I’m high functioning. This means that to the outside world I’m ‘normal’. I’m able to look after two young children, run a business and converse naturally. When actually, all I want to do is hide away.

Whilst being high functioning may seem like a good thing, it’s completely and utterly exhausting. Sometime I think it would be easier to hideaway, rather than putting on a front to the outside world. At least that way I’d be able to rest. We can’t change who we are though and the grass is very rarely greener on the other side. I am who I am, anxiety and all.

Writing about anxiety and how it affects my day-to-day life isn’t an easy thing to do. Most of the time I find writing cathartic, but when the subject is so emotive it can also be a huge trigger. One of the things that bothers me most when I write about mental health, is that it never sounds serious enough. I never feel like I’ve done it justice. Anxiety can be crippling, devastating and downright ugly. Everyone needs to know how bad it can get, the more people who talk about it the better. Maybe that way the seriousness of it won’t be diluted by the stigma that surrounds it.

I’m only too aware of how difficult it can be for people to talk about their mental health, or the state of mind of those they love. More often than not it’s easier not to talk about it, because a lack of understanding can make the situation ten times worse. I’ve learnt over the years to accept it when others don’t understand my situation. In fact I’m glad they don’t understand, because that could mean they don’t suffer – that they’re OK. This approach just isn’t sustainable though. The one thing that will help anyone who suffers with their mental health is talking. Talking is educating and only when the world is educated on all things mental health, can we really start to make a difference to the lives of those that need help to combat their demons.

Anxiety means so many different things, to so many different people. The one thing we all have to remember is to recognise the seriousness of anxiety and to let your voice be heard!


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22 Replies to “High Functioning Anxiety – When the World Thinks You’re OK”

  1. Anxiety can be dreadful can’t it. High functioning or not. Don’t worry about things not sounding serious enough, or how the come across as we all are affected by things differently. I can go into a room of strangers and be fine but it will take me hours to pluck up the courage to make a phone call, even to someone I know. It’s an odd thing. It is the talking about that will help, like you say, if it becomes OK to talk about things then the stigma is reduced.

  2. Really honest and valuable post Zoe. I too suffer from anxiety and I nodded along when you said writing about it doesn’t seem to do it justice. It’s impossible to explain to someone who has never had anxiety what it feels like to try to just get on with life. It is exhausting, well done for being brave and writing about this. Xx

  3. I think it’s great to see a rise in the number of people standing up and speaking out about their mental health. People need educating like you say, no more should be people be brushed under the carpet for something so very real and debilitating. Good on you for taking a step into enlightening us of your struggles and being open & honest. It takes courage to do that! X

  4. I’m starting to identify my triggers now, and I’m 36. Most of my anxiety is brought on my indecision and unsurety.

  5. Am so glad you wrote this! Am a sufferer of anxiety as well and this is so relateable. We need to be more open about mental health and be aware that we can be sick mentally as well as physically. Broken bones get more attention and sympathy than an anxious mind! Yet bith are equally crippling. Xx

  6. You’re absolutely right! That’s why I’ve started speaking out about it because I’ve learnt that whilst it’s hard to do so it is actually do much easier than bottling it up inside, because when I do that it eventually builds up to a point when I breakdown and need to get it out of my system. Great post! X

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