What does anxiety feel like?
I’m walking down the halls of my school, the same faces greet me as I go. I smile back, but my heart is pounding. My palms begin to sweat, my eyes blur and water, and I feel as though every step is sending me deeper into hell. Irrational thoughts overcome reason as I step closer and closer to my classroom. So lost in thought, I bump into someone: an upperclassman named Grace.
“I’m so sorry!” She apologizes. She must hate you, I think to myself, “I didn’t see you there!”
“It’s alright,” I reply. She’s glaring at you, my mind states, “I should have been paying more attention!”
We then continue on our way, a sweet smile gracing her lips as she walks past into the crowd of people. I change my direction and head to the bathroom. As soon as I step inside I take some deep breaths and rinse my face. Great job. my mind taunts me once more, Now you’re late for class.
Anxiety is a constant struggle for those who have it, including myself. It’s a constant tightness in your chest that no amount of deep breaths can relieve. For some people, it can be a constant set of thoughts racing through their head, causing them to be distracted, worried, and nervous. For others, it can be constantly fighting a panic attack that could be triggered at any moment by one wrong move or thought. One of the biggest ones to deal with, is when a person constantly thinks something is wrong or that people don’t like them or what they are doing. These thoughts can make it hard to approach anyone new or to try anything new. This constant worry can make a person think others don’t like them and that person may eventually just avoid people and become depressed because they are too afraid to say anything.
Many people experience anxiety differently, so it’s hard to predict how some people may act or how it affects their lives. For me personally, I have a very hard time with irrational thoughts about people not liking me due to neglect and bullying from my peers in the past. This makes it hard for me to approach new people and I almost panic when left alone with too many strangers. I’m constantly on high alert, observing those around me constantly, rarely relaxing even when walking my dog in the park that I have gone to my entire life. It’s hard to live with, as the constant thoughts of “is what I’m wearing weird?” Or “she looked at me weird! She must not like me!” will flood my head on a daily basis. Luckily, I have very understanding friends who were very patient with me and got me to open up far more than anyone else ever has!
Like I said, it’s different for each person, and it doesn’t always go away. It’s going to be a constant battle for anyone with anxiety. Patience and understanding is key if someone you know is struggling. And if you’re the one struggling, then find people with those traits, even if they are simply a therapist. Hope this helped!
“I made it to Whataburger today,” my brother announces as I close the front door and set my bag on the counter.
I grin at him. This is big news. “Horray! How’d you do?”
“I went in and ordered.” He’s talking fast, eyes aglow. “I didn’t just go through the drive-thru or anything. Like I actually sat down and ate there.”
“Hey, fuck yeah.” I clap him on the shoulder. “Good for you. So, do you feel better about going places nearby now that you know you can do it?”
Whataburger is 3.8 miles away, according to Google Maps.
My brother pauses. “Not really,” he says finally. He looks at his hands folded in his lap. “No, not really.”
My brother was diagnosed with Severe Generalized Anxiety Disorder about three to four months after our mother and sister died in a car accident, which was the day the anxiety began.
It’s important to note the 3-4 month window of time that passed between our family members’ deaths and the actual diagnosis. Severe generalized anxiety is a common response to catastrophic life events — which is to say: it’s normal, all things considered. Therefore, in spite of the severity of the condition, it didn’t qualify as a disorder until it never went away.
That was 3 years ago.
My brother is 22 years old. He’s 6′ 3″ and weighs 206 lbs. He’s athletic, broad shouldered, towering over everyone. His eyes are blue like our mom’s — so pale they’re almost translucent, like two pieces of wintermint dissolving into ice cold spring water.
He always had girlfriends. Everyone got along well with him. He’s never mean to anybody. Got good grades in school and used to play sports — all of the sports, too: baseball, basketball, cross country, whatever, all of them. Outside of school, he used to get into trouble running amock. He’s been to jail a time or two for minor things, rowdy as he was.
Our mother babied him, and he was a huge mama’s boy as a result. My sisters and I used to tease him about it.
“I’m the wa-wa-waterboy,” we’d shout tauntingly, and he’d just smile.
When our mom went, she took that boy with her.
Recently, I was asking my brother questions about his anxiety.
Me: “Do you have anxiety from the second you wake up in the morning?”
Him: “What do you mean? I don’t wake up having a panic attack, usually. That does happen, but it’s unusual.”
Me: “So, you wake up feeling the same way you did back before mom died? You’re just a normal person when you first wake up?”
Him: “Oh, no. That level of calm is inaccessible to me. I guess if you’re measuring it against how I felt before mom died, I do wake up with anxiety, yes.”
Me: “And how does that compare to the uptick of anxiety you experience when you try to leave the house, or when you’re here by yourself, or in someone’s car?”
Him: “It’s like — it’s not as extreme. It’s more like nervousness from knowing I’m going to have a panic attack, but I don’t know when. It just feels like something bad is about to happen all the time. I have this feeling of awareness that something is going to, um, that something bad is approaching. Something real bad.”
Me: “And what about your actual anxiety attacks. What are those like?”
Him: “A flood of adrenaline, sort of out of nowhere. Fight or flight. Like, I’m in danger and I need to escape. But I can’t escape. The danger is inside my own head, and I can’t escape from that.”
When he was first diagnosed with Severe Generalized Anxiety Disorder, my brother was prescribed Xanax to help take the edge off. It helped somewhat, but he can’t get the medication anymore because he can’t afford health care.
Update October 2018
If you suffer from severe generalized anxiety disorder, and you can’t afford health care, don’t give up on yourself just yet.
After four miserable years of suffering, my brother’s anxiety has finally relented.
He just got back from a trip to Disneyland.
You’re going to be okay, and your anxiety disorder can ROT IN HELL.
Have you ever googled yourself? Run a “deep search” instead.
This new search engine reveals so much more. Type in you name, wait 107 seconds, brace yourself.
I’m writing this anonymously because people who know me – teachers, friends, family members – follow me here and id rather they not see this.
I have diagnosed Anxiety. It’s a very recent diagnosis and it’s still currently being investigated as to whether it’s caused by a chemical imbalance in My brain – my father’s side of the family has a long, long list of members with mental illnesses – but it’s believed I’ve lived with it from a very young age. I’m currently 17.
I know that my answer should not be taken word for word. I don’t suffer as badly as others do – in fact, I feel guilty and self conscious about claiming i have anxiety because I know people are worse than I am – and teenage hormones and angst of course, have their impact, but I figured i should throw in my two cents anyway.
A lot of sufferers from anxiety suffer panic attacks. I don’t have panic attacks, but instead I have – thankfully – spread out emotional meltdowns. They don’t have to be caused by big things. I’m writing this barely hours after having one which was caused by my parents arguing over buying me a new phone – I know, it sounds very ‘rich kid first world problem issue’ doesn’t It? Long story.
They’re triggered very often when a situation arises that involve my friends or my family – today, my parents arguing. I can’t hear my parents arguing without flashing back to when I was nine and my father was packing his bags ready to leave my mother, And I remember asking him, very clearly through tears, “…will you still come to my football games?”
“I don’t know, kid. I don’t know.”
He didn’t leave. But every time they have a bad fight it’s practically an immediate trigger for me to break down in tears and cry for several hours straight. It’s not their fault – arguments in a relationship are healthy- I just can’t stand the thought of him leaving.
Right now I’m awake because I can’t stop thinking about if they reallt are okay now, after I sat them down, still crying, And forced them to talk this argument out. I know if I didn’t make them talk it out, I’d be crying alone right now in my room, knowing they’re angry at eachother, hating myself because it’s my fault. Wondering if he’s going to leave. I’m wondering if they lied and pretended they were okay and talked the issues out. I’m wondering if while I’m at work tomorrow they’ll fight again and get divorced. I’m wondering that, maybe my dad blames himself, and sees his role in our family as loved for nothing more than a money cow. I’m scared he’ll hate himself. I’m scared he’ll hurt himself. I’m scared I’ll lose him.
The problem Is, I know none of this is true. We watched a movie after and we made jokes. They’re fine. I know they are. But I can’t sleep and I still keep worrying. And that’s what anxiety is like – or, for me. Constant, mostly irrational, worrying.
I worry what other people think of me to the extreme if I think I’m breathing too heavily while walking next to someone, I’ll hold my breath until they go away. I sacrifice my own needs for the sake of someone else’s wants because I worry about making a bad impression and having someone hate me. The other day while I was walking to my school I turned a traffic cone around – it was standing perfectly fine and all I did was shift it about 20°, but there was a nagging, constant voice saying I had to move it. It had to face that way. It just had to. I sacrifice my own opinions and beliefs if a friend has an opposing one because I’m so desperate to keep their friendship even if I know they’ll be accepting of my belief, even if I hate myself inside for keeping it secret. I’ll take blame for other people if it stops them from fighting with others because I can’t stand the thought of people being angry with eachother, even if it ends with them angry at me.
I don’t sleep. I don’t eat well. I’m slipping into anorexic habits and I can’t have stable romantic relationships because I’m constantly anxious that I’m not good enough for them, physically, emotionally, socially, that they will grow to hate me because I’m just not good enough. I don’t throw myself into the relationships because I’m terrified of emotional vulnerability and I’m terrified they’ll hate me for being too clingy or invested, which leads to me being distant and not invested at all which kills the relationship and only hurts us both more.
I find it horrifyingly difficult to open up to people because I’m constantly terrified they’ll hate me, or god, worse – say they love and accept me but despise me secretly and it’s all pity. There are two people I’m truly open to and they’re not even my parents- my best, true friend, and my therapist.
I love my parents. I love them so much I’m afraid that by opening up to them I’ll only disappoint them because I’m not the perfect daughter. They don’t want a perfect daughter – I know that. They love me for me and that’s all they want.
And that’s the worst part.
I know my worries are irrational. I know they make no sense, I know they’re not true, I know what I’m thinking isn’t right or real.
But they’re so overwhelming. They drown out common sense. They drown out good thoughts. They drown out everything.
I’m sorry this went on for so long. If anything, this was more of a vent, and I don’t know if I reallt explained how anxiety feels. But this helped. Maybe I can sleep now.
Our car’s fuel gauge is broken. It’s impossible to know whether the little hand is telling the truth or not. We just have to guess whether the car needs gas or not.
It’s kinda like that. My gauge is broken.
I often wake up with anxiety. Nothing’s even happened yet, right? But it doesn’t matter. I’m alive and awake and that means something can go wrong. The ceiling could fall on me. My bed could collapse and I could be impaled by the broken wood. My heart could suddenly stop. A poisonous spider could drop from the ceiling and bite me. Our neighbors could suddenly break through my bedroom wall, the wall we share which my bed is up against, and murder me. A bird could break through my balcony doors and peck me to death. The light bulb in my lamp could explode and fly into my face.
And that’s just some of the scenarios where I die. There’s so much more that could go wrong.
I have a severe mismanagement of possible outcomes. To me, anything is possible. Everything is equally possible. Yes, some things are less possible than others, but maybe I’m the one to defy the odds. Therefore, everything is equally possible.
I walk through life expecting the worst at every moment. It comes at me for no reason. I have no triggers because everything and nothing are my triggers.
It’s a nice, sunny day but it’s not too hot and I just had my favorite breakfast and an engaging and productive lecture and spent some time with with my friends and now I’m in the car listening to music I love and staring out the window at the world and this is all stuff I enjoy but it doesn’t matter!
It never matters because anxiety does not care. In fact, the better things are going, the worse. It’s suspicious. Life isn’t easy or fair. Life doesn’t care about us. Life just attacks, just grabs you by the hair and flings you into a pit of darkness and despair when you least expect it. I’m having a good day? Why the fuck should I have a good day? Clearly, something is about to go wrong.
I have a high baseline for anxiety. My default is anxious. It’s a minor kind of anxious I’ve become accustomed to so I can’t even recognize it as anything but normal, anymore. But I see the difference sometimes when I watch others coasting easily through situations that would have me hyperventilating and pacing in a bathroom stall.
It feels like a crushing weight on my chest as my lungs shrink. It feels like someone trying to break out of my skull with a sledgehammer. It feels like two billion thoughts wrestling for attention inside of my brain. It feels like even water will make me puke. It feels like nothing I say could ever come close to describing how I feel. Nothing is worth saying. Nothing is worth doing. I do not speak and I do not act. The less I do, the safer I am. I need to get home and curl up under the covers and close my eyes and cover my ears and block out the world because it wants to hurt me.
It feels like I am sitting on the tracks, watching the train get bigger and closer, and I’m not even tied up. There’s nothing forcing me to stay. It’s me. I want to move but I don’t. I could but it’s just not working.
And the train never hits either. I’m stuck in the moment right before the impact.
I cannot talk, I cannot sleep, I cannot eat. Last year, my anxiety got so severe for a while, I would stay up for five hours panicking and failing to fall asleep despite being exhausted. I would force myself to eat a muffin or an apple a day just so I wouldn’t starve. I lost so much weight without even trying. I couldn’t pay attention in class and I couldn’t do anything when I got home. I sat in my room the entire time I was home, trying not to think. But I am always thinking, to the point where I become so fucking sick of it. My brain never slows down.
Everything just becomes so exhausting and impossible. Everything is bad and wrong and nothing will ever be right. Life is out to get me and I cannot avoid it. Sometimes I even want the bad things to happen so I can get it the fuck over with. I want the disasters so I can figure out how to handle the aftermath.
I’m just tired of waiting.
Anxiety is a giant boulder, weighing me down, pulling me through the water towards the ocean floor. It warps my vision and shows me the world as some kind of booby trapped obstacle course.
Surprisingly enough, the usual things that might make me anxious don’t. Things like talking to strangers, public speaking, etc. don’t really affect me. I’m not extremely shy or easily embarrassed. As a matter of fact, embarrassment means next to nothing to me. It has a very insignificant hold on me.
Sometimes, nothing affects me. Sometimes, my house could burn down and I wouldn’t so much as blink.
It fluctuates. It makes no sense. I hate it.
I don’t know how I feel about anything. I haven’t been able to experience anything “normally”. It’s always either RED ALERT WE ARE UNDER ATTACK PREPARE FOR THE WORST or………………….. meh.
Anxiety is frustrating, to say the least. But I know it’s not gonna go away. I’m not sure who I’d be without it. I’ve had it so long, it’s a part of me now. I can’t extract it without losing myself. I’ve accepted it.
I hope this answered the question in some way.
Panicked or can’t breathe. Sometimes vomiting or crying. I’ve been through all of them. I learned going to the mirror helps you to force yourself to breathe. Counting out loud backwards if you can helps calm you by the time you force yourself to finish. Crying and vomiting may go on for to long before you realize it was anxiety. I also know each situation of that triggering. But taking meds can cause them when you run out. I just am not a pill person unless I’m in dying stage I guess. I think I’ve seen to many people take stuff they don’t need. But when I actually needed it five years straight the emergency room staff members acted like I was like that. Not cool. My blood flow to my kidney was blocked causing serious pain. Two inches wide stone I’m being told you aren’t in pain. But I also was to pill ignorant to know if your pain is over a seven your a pill head. My pain was way pass the crying frownie face ten. Guess I needed the serious shit huh. So badly want to go call each one into a meeting with me to shame them. But I lost respect for that place. Seems like some dirty stuff going on up there. You want to feel like they know best when your in that kind of pain. Five years tells me something real suspicious up there. This isn’t the only visit within that period. I was sent home with pregnancy papers in the beginning two years no sex. How was I sent home with papers that wasn’t discussed with me because you didn’t want to take out an iud with a letter of necessity telling you to. Here I am still with it. But once again I’m trusting their degrees and certifications. Like really two years later I read in my files they sent me home with them papers of a lie. Now you get why I’m so angry with the entire c. The owner of that specific thing is also a chairman for the c btw. Same friends mom scammer pretended to be he went to that house trying to get my stuff apparently. Hired her husband and befriended her mom for pills all the while. See how much work I’ve done from right here. Knowledge that I knew before going to him. I need to move to just feel healed. Shit is eff ing RIDICULOUS! WISH I was wrong. But nope.
How do you tighten the skin on your face without surgery?
Beverly Hills surgeon reveals at home fix (no creams needed). For illustrative purposes only.
I’ve been postponing sharing real-life issues on quora but I feel that I’ve amassed a large enough audience for it to really make an impact. I’m also reposting this answer to several questions to generate a largerer audience.
I have anxiety and gad (though this isn’t diagnosed I’m over 1000 percent positive I have it, and all of my friends would confirm that).
I’ll share some instances of how it impacts my daily life during the school year.
imagine your biology (I also blame this for the cause of my anxiety and I know that I can’t blame one teacher but I do) teacher uploads a test grade to canvas. You’re terrified to check your grade and put it off. Your friends hound you to check it, but you just can’t. Something inside you is just screaming on the inside.
You spent hours studying, and a bad grade would completely crush the self confidence you have. You check your test grade and got an 88. Not terrrible but not good. You see that you have text messages so you go to look at them. Every single person in your class has flaunted their grade, and most are higher than you.
You go to the bathroom and just cry. You don’t even know why you are crying, you just are. When your parents ask why you’re visibly upset or when your friends do, it just makes it worse. Now I don’t get panic attacks like some people I would rather call mine crying attacks, and my friends know exactly what I’m talking about.
Now imagine you’re sitting in English class. The teacher passes back the papers, and you have five minutes to look over them before she collects them. You get back the paper. You see scribbles of writing.
You panic. You hand the paper back to her without seeing your grade. When your friend asks why you did this, you can’t explain.
When you ask to see your grade you see that the scribbles were from your peer editor on the rough draft, and you got an A on the paper
GAD isn’t getting stressed out about a test. GAD is where school becomes your life. Most people can let a bad grade slip or take a break from school, but we can’t. We are constantly worrying about everything and have no time to just relax
I’ll share the symptoms that I have
- I get terrible stress stomach aches
- Perceiving everything as a negative/threatening
- extremely irritable (sorry to my friends)
- EXCESSIVE worry
- inability to relax and let go of worry
- overthinking everything
- Indecisiveness and fear of picking the wrong choice
I was officially diagnosed with anxiety at age 11, but it started really affecting my life at age 8 or 9. As I’ve grown up and changed, my anxiety has changed with me and affected me in different ways.
In fourth grade, I was one of the “gifted” students. I was in all of the most advanced classes and blew through them all easily. I’m 18 now and remember the first clear sign that something was wrong. I was taking a math test, and came across a certain type of problem that I couldn’t remember how to solve. I stared at the page, feeling faint and nausea. I suddenly felt like I was dying and after a few minutes had to go to the nurse and call my mom.
Now, I’ve always been a shy kid. There’s a difference between being shy and having social anxiety. Shy kids feel nervous, but all in all shyness comes from wanting to wait to feel comfortable before opening up. With social anxiety, I would walk into a room full of kids and my brain would immediately hit the panic button. Logically, I knew I was just going to school like any normal kid, but every other part of me screamed to get out.
This kind of social & performance anxiety followed me into middle school. The bullying I got by others made it far worse, and now as a technical adult I realize the school made it worse as well. I was told to stop skipping class when I went to the nurse, physically ill from the anxiety I was experiencing. I left the school at the end of 8th grade.
Now, I have accepted that anxiety is a part of my life, possibly permanently. Sometimes I feel that all of my friends hate me. Sometimes I will drive myself crazy at night, wondering if I really am a failure with no friends.
My anxiety has caused me to act in ways that lost me a lost of friendships. People don’t want to accept that I need more reassurance, or I freak myself out and just ditch people completely because I’m tired of making myself miserable. My panic attacks and depression have put my family through so much pain that I would do anything to take away from them.
But, anxiety has forced me to grow up in ways I can tell a lot of people my age haven’t. I don’t tolerate any kind of relationship that isn’t genuine- I know I won’t be able to take it. It’s taught me to look inside myself and understand why I act the way I do. I still have a long way to go, but whenever I get too sad about it I just remind myself that at least I don’t start seeing double on math tests anymore.
This is easy-peasy. I will just transfer a blog post over here:
I decided today I needed to go to Walmart and get some small knitting needles and baby yarn. I didn’t make this decision lightly. It’s just I had ran out of anything to knit with. I spend hours watching You Tube and I found that if I have something in my hands, I am less likely to eat. I am fighting to get back to 150 lbs (other blogs).
So. For a person like me with anxiety disorder, it meant planning a little harder than just going to the doctor or therapist or Weight Watcher’s. Walmart is not predictable. And I hate the traffic up around there. I have already mentioned I always park in the same lane way down at the end, so that I can drive out (wherever possible I avoid backing up.)
I double check that I have my wallet in my purse before getting out of the car, always. I double check that I have taken my key from the car, and placed it in my purse. I want no surprises. I watch all the people coming and going behind my shades. I am dressed in a black Tshirt and black yoga pants and my old blue Tevas, so I figure that’s about as normal as I can get.
When I get inside, the light dazzles my eyes. There are so many people in there. So much STUFF. I know some people like to wander around the STUFF just for something to do, and they wonder why I don’t do this. Get out of the house, costs nothing to browse? That’s my sister’s attitude.
These people look normal, non-threatening, I don’t feel afraid, but it’s so super bright on my eyes. But I don’t want to look suspicious and put on my shades (which are tucked into my Tshirt neckline)
While I am there, I get a box of heavy kitty litter. GS hasn’t been around lately to shop with DH and help him and I don’t want to saddle him with litter, and I am out. I also got some hair dye for my greys.
Then I made my way through all the STUFF to the knitting aisle and spent maybe 10 minutes trying to decide what to get. I came away with 1/2 lb baby wool and US 6 circular needles. They had size 5 but the needles were 14 inches long. I debated myself. I wanted straight needles but they would be hard to work with.
All this is really unimportant because the idea is to keep my hands busy while watching videos. I can’t do anything complex. It’s just so that I don’t eat. I have a horror of getting food on things that I work with so I am just trying to turn this to my advantage.
Having made my choice, almost out of there. Now, to pay.
Thankfully, only 3 are ahead of me, with small amounts of items. The woman ahead of me turns, flashes a smile, and darts to the breath mints across the way, leaving her cart briefly. I smile back.I decide I need more Tic Tacs as well, but my purse is across my body, so I don’t need to trust the one behind me.
Well, that woman had maybe 5 things, and 5 coupons. The supervisor had to be called over about a coupon on a travel-sized aerosol can…shit, just GET ON WITH IT. I want out of here.
I had my debit card in my hand, numbers down. I kept reciting my pin numbers in my mind. I placed my items on the counter, was greeted by the cashier, and paid flawlessly. Good job, I said to myself.
Then, after I was done, as I always do, I parked my cart to the side, put my card away and took out my keys. Almost there. I put on my shades and made my way out into the hot sunshine, heading for where I parked the car.
Once inside, I felt like I had fought a battle. Time to go home. I put the key in the ignition, and made my way back home. One of my favourite 90’s alt was playing
I sung my ass off
It can play havoc on your life. If you haven’t already done so, make an appointment with a specialist or general practitioner. This is coming from one who is “walking the path”. As you may know, a great majority of the time a person has anxiety, he/she will also have depression. The #1 health problem in the world today is stress.
Consequently, all steps should be taken to control it. Approximately, 40% of clinical depression is genetic and it has nothing to do with lack of willpower. Also, as in my case, depression can be caused from an insult to the brain TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) when I was 18-years-old. All efforts to control your anxiety and/or your depression should be initiated by medical personnel.
You can also use countless non-chemical means to cope with stress. Some, and this is a short list, I’ve provided here:
- Avoid negative people
- Don’t rely on your memory and write things for a reminder
- Make duplicate keys
- Say, “No!” more often
- Simplify meal time
- Always make copes of important papers
- Ask for help with jobs you don’t like
- Break large tasks into bite size portions
- Pet your dog or cat
- Don’t know all the answers
- Say something nice to someone
- Say hello to a stranger
- Ask a friend for a hug
- Practice breathing slowly
- Stand up and stretch
- Strive for excellence NOT perfection
- Don’t worry what other people are thinking about you because they are NOT thinking about you because you are not the center of the universe
- Ask someone to be your “vent partner”
- Talk less and listen more
- Watch a sunset
- Know your limitations and let others know them, too
- Always have a plan B
- Memorize a joke
- Clean out one closet
- Write a note to a friend far away
- Remember stress is an attitude
- Remember you always have options
- Have a support network of people
- Quit trying to “fix” other people
- Get enough sleep
- Freely praise other people
- Relax and take one day at a time because you have the rest of your life
- Do something completely voluntarily for the less fortunate. Could be an animal shelter, a hospice, a home for elderly people, orphanage … whatever.
- Take up something that you always thought you were good at doing but never really pursued, for example sketching or painting.
Please know if you’ve been diagnosed with anxiety, these “de-stressors” and many more should be used along with prescribed medication NOT in lieu of prescribed medications. There’s more I could share than this space will allow. Take a look at the ebook, Rise Above: Conquering Adversities on Amazon Kindle. It’s also available in paperback format.
To click on the link below: Rise Above
All the best to you.
It’s different for everyone, but mostly the answer is “not great”.
For me, it usually manifests as avoidance. I avoid the things that would fully trigger the anxiety. So I don’t make phone calls (including making doctor appointments, or anything I know I absolutely need), I don’t volunteer to socialize in large groups, and I tend to spend most of my time alone to keep stress down.
When anxiety kicks in, I feel a spike in my blood pressure and heart rate. I get a little fight-or-flighty, which means I get irritable and cranky, because my instinct is always “fight”, and punching strangers is frowned upon. So, I say things designed to hurt emotionally, instead. I have to catch it early and remove myself to avoid it, because that’s not the kind of person I want to be.
I had one full-blown panic attack when my girlfriend invited one of her friends into our room to show them something. I felt like my sanctuary had been violated, and that would be cause for irritation on its own, but my reaction was way more than the situation warranted.
At first I couldn’t stop moving. I was shaking my hands, twisting them at the wrist like you would to make a charm bracelet chime. This is called “stimming”, and is a coping mechanism for many disorders. It’s any repetitive physical movement that helps disperse the energy, emotion, or tension building up inside.
I was also pacing up and down the hallway, because I knew I needed to go back out to the living room to socialize, but I also felt like I was going to cry, and I didn’t want to do that in front of everyone.
My breathing got fast, my heart was racing, and I couldn’t fight back the tears. I hid in the guest room and sobbed for a while, until the energy was spent and I had a chance to talk to my girlfriend about it.
Anxiety isn’t something you can reason with. Knowing objective truths doesn’t mean anything to anxiety. So, knowing there was no harm in the situation and that my reaction was unwarranted had no impact on the experience.
I hope this helps you understand anxiety more, though, again, many people experience different symptoms and fixations.
Anxiety for me feels like a constant state of fight or flight, like I’m a watchdog on high alert. Fear turns into annoyance, aggravation, guilt, and soon tears. It feels like I have mysterious ailments on a regular basis(nausea, headaches, chest pain, and a dry throat)l but I’ve been deducing that those are from anxiety. Everyday noises torment me, like when you have a headache, except the noises push me to the brink of crying. It’s really crummy when symptoms just linger, even worsening when nothing particular is on your mind anymore, and the life just gets sucked out of you. It’ll have to do with the current situation…or it’ll be sad/embarrassing memories popping up in your head. It can be a more significant event, like a terrifying argument between a loved one and I, or something as minor as someone telling me to fix my clothes or regretting not getting ice cream with my mother when I was 11(I was a bit over obsessed with eating healthy at the time). It’s often random, but there are triggers as well, which could be hearing/reading a word that was said during that event, a word that rhymes with that word, even the rhythm of peoples’ voices and their body language matching what was said or done. I often daydream about said memories and what I could have done differently then. It’s not always sheer guilt, but just knowing things could have gone better. Although, the way things go differently in my head aren’t always positive.
And blah, I just want to argue with my brain. Say I’m ready to go to bed. The night has fallen, and my mind has begun to clear up. Except that leaves room for other thoughts to crawl in. Often times, it’s thinking about what bad things could happen to my room, such as a fire starting. I try to fend them off because if I let them be they turn into wishes for those things, which aren’t genuine. I lie in bed, feeling tense, worried some magical force will hear these “wishes” and make them come true. Do you ever look at an everyday object and think about what horrendous things could be done with it? I could be enjoying a nice cup of coffee, and my brain’s like, “Hey, what if you threw that at someone?” I don’t want to do that to anyone, but I nearly freeze in fear telling myself not to do that. It’s scary imagining your family shrieking in pain.
Anxiety has turned me into a bit of a perfectionist, and sadly that’s more of a negative than a positive. Like a couple weeks ago, I was making sure every vegetable slice in cooking class was perfect. No biggie except for a time crunch. But it makes me feel like I’m an idiot, not necessarily because I believe it, but because it feels like everyone is treating me like one. I know they aren’t, but the anxiousness makes offers for help feel like insults, even if they’re trying to help me out with something else entirely. I just feel like scowling at people. I wanna get good grades, and so far so good, but it’s sucky when you’re listening to a lecture and then zone out, your mind filling with random thoughts about people you love getting hurt. It’s sucky when on your first day of college, you’re on the brink of crying in class because you’re already so homesick. Homesickness is normal, but it’s like, Sam, holy cow, you cried almost 20 times that day! Socialization is rough when you’re not only flat-out introverted but judging yourself after nearly every social interaction. I should have said more, my tone was dull. etc. I can tell myself all day that people probably won’t care, but that usually doesn’t work. At the same token, that perfectionism is part of why I’m so socially awkward. For example, if I’m ordering something, I’ll be pondering over whether I should say, “I’d like” or “I’ll have.” Dang, I just feel so alone. I want to make my presence known, yet I often get uncomfortable just going into the bathroom with my bath mates for fear of being watched, and I calculate their moves to see when they come in. I’m itching to say something, it’s on the tip of my tongue-why won’t it come out?
Speaking of that shyness, I’m pretty sure I used to have social anxiety. I wasn’t really diagnosed, but looking back when I was younger, it wasn’t just being shy, it was sheer terror. If I saw someone I knew at the store, I would strive to hide from them. They weren’t even bad people, but I was so shy, I was scared they would say hello. Even though I look back and think I was being ridiculous, I almost did it again on my birthday. I saw my old best friend at the store, and I was hiding at first, but I convinced myself to go up to him because he was a wonderful friend and it might have been the last time I would ever see him. I would watch the classroom and make sure no one was watching as I threw away an apple core or went to grab crayons. I’ve had someone ask me my name with me walking away afterward. I’d be scared to ask to go to the bathroom, to ask for help-for most, it’s because they don’t want to look stupid, for me it was mostly the shyness. While this has gotten better, I still deal with it at times; last year, I almost didn’t get therapy because I was simply too shy to walk in the nurse’s office.
Anxiety makes me feel like some sort of deep thinker. Tossing something in the trash and wondering what would happen if everything in the room landed in there. Someone misunderstanding what I said and then imagining if my life was a lie because of all the things I’ve said being misconstrued. Bumping myself on a chair leg and imagining it was someone trying to hurt me instead. Trying to meet someone with common interests and imagining them faking their identity-buying certain merch and posting certain pictures online to fake their interests. It’s almost paranoid sounding, but luckily I know that’s not the feeling. Oh, look, my brain is thinking about how I’m reminding people of the evils they can do! Ahahaha.
Some days I’m mostly calm, other days I’d say at least 75% of my thoughts are anxious ones. I’ll be chilling one moment and be nearly hyperventilating the next as if someone ripped my breath away. It’s like I’m a Skyrim character-’You cannot fast travel when enemies are nearby”. Where they at?! I hear the boss music, but I don’t see the threat. But even when I don’t, I can’t fast travel, symbolizing I’m being held back. Luckily my sense of adventure helps me get going. Still, I feel like this voice inside my head is like a mother telling her child not to watch a scary movie as it’ll give them nightmares. Meaning, I know that certain subjects will give me intrusive thoughts-this mostly happens when I overhear familiar conversations. I know how illogical my thoughts are, but it doesn’t make too much of a difference. Anxiety makes you feel like you’re drowning, like you’re suffocating-it is simply hellish. Glad I got this out.