Anxiety: Can you see it from the outside?

When I normally open up about my anxiety and how I suffer from it, a lot of people immediately tell me that “You would never guess I had anxiety,” which I guess is a good thing. I don’t want to show that if I’m feeling anxious all the time, and I don’t want it to be something that people define me by.

Sometimes what you see on the outside, isn’t always what is going on in the inside; and I think that’s the same for most mental illnesses. I am relatively quite a happy and positive person. I am quite outgoing and confident because that’s just how my personally is.

But I could seem completely confident, and inside feel like I’m having a panic attack. In fact, I watched a really insightful video about this concept of anxiety the other day which I will link here.

It basically describes that ‘high functioning anxiety’ demonstrates a contrast between what’s going on inside, and what you see on the outside. For example, while it may seem like I am completely calm and as though my anxiety isn’t getting to me at all, I could still be having erratic thoughts of, “You’re not good enough,” “Everyone hates you,” “You should stop talking and shut up” “You’re such a burden.”

When it comes to my anxiety, I try to block out the thoughts and pretend they’re not there, but sometimes that can do more harm than good. Simply pretending they don’t exist is like walking away from a ticking time bomb and knowing that it’s going to explode sooner or later. These thoughts will eventually catch up to me, and the longer that I try to pretend they don’t exist, the worse they normally get in the long run.

That’s why it may seem like I’m all ‘happy and positive’ all the time, when in reality I’m not. Just because I may seem happy, doesn’t mean I’m not feeling anxious. It doesn’t mean that I’m not overthinking the worst, or not on the edge of having a panic attack. The thing about mental illnesses is that it’s in the brain and obviously, what’s going on in there may not always be a reflection of what you see on the outside.

The fact is, you never know what anyone is truly going through. Don’t automatically assume a person is okay just because of how they may seem on the outside. Sometimes I try to hide my anxious moments, but at the same time I want to scream out for help. It’s exhausting, and it’s like it’s a whole act that I need to put on in order to convince myself that it’s not there… when it obviously is.

Sometimes, you’re not able to see what is going on inside my head from my body language on the outside. That’s the scary thing. High functioning anxiety for me sounds like, “You’re not good enough, but you need to act happy and good enough so people don’t hate you AND THEN think you’re not good enough even more.”

Love and happiness always,

xo, Becca