“16 Things People Don’t Realize You’re Doing Because Anxiety Is Your ‘Normal’” was originally published on The Mighty.
When you live with a mental health condition like anxiety, it can become your new “normal.” So much so that people might not even connect some of the things you do to your anxiety.
Maybe you unintentionally hurt other people’s feelings by avoiding anxiety-inducing social situations. Maybe you bite your fingernails or chip off nail polish to calm the anxiety within. Or maybe you lash out and what looks like anger is actually your anxiety rearing its head.
Whatever your situation may be, anxiety often “hides” and it’s important we know what to look for. We asked members of our Mighty community to share one thing people don’t realize they’re doing because anxiety is their “normal” mode.
Here’s what our community shared with us:
1. “[I] sit in groups and listen and observe everything and everyone, but I keep quiet and don’t often contribute to the conversation. Some mistake this as being rude, snobbish and anti-social. It’s just anxiety.” — Allison M.
2. “I massage my temples. A lot of people think it’s just a headache or a habit but really I do it when my thoughts are racing and I can feel a panic attack coming.” — Chase C.
3. “Not maintaining eye contact is one of my biggest anxiety-driven social issues. People think I’m being rude or inattentive when really it’s a manifestation of my anxiety. I actually cannot listen while looking someone in the eyes — I’m too nervous about what they see when they look at me.” — Kristy H.
4. “I start to act ‘mean.’ People often tell me I am intimidating although I don’t mean to be. I just have that ‘look.’ I don’t want that look, I just want to not have a million thoughts all at once going through my head not knowing how to slow them down.” — Jessica H.
5. “Picking at/peeling my lips. I do it any time I’m even mildly anxious, and I oftentimes don’t notice until I make myself bleed.” — Rebekah B.
6. “Shaking my leg. It gets on everyone’s nerves (apparently). People tell me to stop, but they don’t realize I literally can’t control it. It’s because of my anxiety.” — Madison B.
7. “I wear so many layers of clothing, regardless of what season, since my anxiety causes me to either sweat or have chills on a daily basis. In the summer, my co-workers think I’m ‘insane’ wearing sweatshirts, but I feel like I literally have zero control over my body temperature.” — Melissa P.
8. “Spacing out. Co-workers especially will ask me if I’m OK, to which I always reply, ‘Yeah, just tired.’ But when I get overwhelmed, I just tend to shut down.” — Breanna H.
9. “Talking constantly! When I’m out in public and I’m anxious, I’ll talk and talk and talk. My parents always called me a social butterfly — but really I’m just super nice and I was freaking out inside.” — Reba E.
10. “I can’t stop what I am doing. If I am working on something, I can’t just stop and come back to it later. I have to get to a good stopping point or finish it before I can move on.” — Maggie B.
11. “Holding my breath when I’m in large crowds. I have been caught doing so by many people including my mother who acts like I’m ‘crazy,’ but it is the only way to prevent a panic attack.” — Shannon M.
12. “Staying on my phone when in large groups or meetings. Messaging with my ‘people’ about how anxious I am.” — Laci L.
13. “Getting defensive immediately when asked a question.” — Harley A.
14. “My boss called me out the other day for being all over the place. I get super frazzled and obsessive over projects I get into, and I get thrown off when others come and ask me questions in the middle of tasks.” — Brianna D.
15. “Waking up with a sick stomach every morning or whenever I leave the house. Getting sick to my stomach is just kind of a normal thing for me now.” — Christina P.
16. “I can’t stand being apart from my Burt’s Bees lip balm. The fragrance and action of putting it on calms me, and the tube is perfect for fidgeting with to get out anxious energy.” — Sarah S.
What would you add?
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