I was talking on the phone with a customer service rep the other day (for a cbd oil consult) and she made the comment that “I didn’t sound like I had a lot of anxiety because I sounded so happy and positive.” I didn’t take offense to this, I have actually heard this before and thought it myself.
Here’s the deal, before I ended up in the hospital last summer, and before I took a journey of figuring out what in the hell was happening to me, I considered myself invinsible. Above panic attacks and above anxiety and above anything to do with weakness (as I percieved it.) I just considered myself a high functioning person who could do anything under all circumstaces, and that I didn’t need to show “weakness.”
I think we all grow up with this ideas of how we want to be and how we don’t want to be. I never wanted to be a person/mother/wife who couldn’t handle the hard stuff. I wanted to be amazing at all the things and I did not want to be vulnerable about it. I was very, very good at just sucking it up and getting stuff done. I was very, very good at people pleasing and putting my own needs aside. I was very, very good at putting control and routine and perfectionism in the forefront, and camoflauging the worry and anxiousness underneath. I was so good at all of this until I was blindsided by the (metaphorical) 2×4 that the Universe slapped me across the face with to make me see. (See, getting hospitalized for “stroke” symptoms.)
Anxiety for me looks like:
A highlighted and by the hour calendar that has to be stuck to or the world will fall apart.
An obsessive tracking of food/macros/diet because if I could control my weight and appearance, all was well.
An obsessive need to exercise as punishment, as a way to create a perfect apperance versus health and welness.
Worrying about dying, getting an illness, my kids dying, my husband, laying awake thinking of how I’d plan for each of these things.
Needing to do things perfectly or else they don’t count (a number of reps working out, miles ran, etc.)
Feeling like what I did was never enough. Needing to be “perfect” for my husband and children. Never wanting to disapoint people even if that thing I would agree to wasn’t good for me.
Overwhelm and breaking down over tiny things, and the ability to handle the big things easily. Often feeling like I was a cup that was on the verge of overflow.
Constantly people pleasing, looking to be liked and admired because I didn’t feel good enough on the inside.
I could honestly go on and on! It wasn’t until a friend gently asked me last Summer, “do you think you have anxiety?” And then another friend also thought that all I did was a lot and maybe too much? It all kind of hit me, sort of like a veil lifting. I could SEE. I could see my behaviors clearly. Even though I wasn’t depressed, in need of medication, or a mess on the outside (my thought of what anxiety looked like,) I showed anxiety through perfectionism, control, over-worry, a rigid viewpoint, and being an over achiever.
I kept all these things up for years and years, until I didn’t even recognize that they were hurting me. They just felt like regular life. They felt normal. My body told me it was hurting (stiff neck, various illnesses, a panic attack that led me to the hospital…) and I didn’t listen for a long time.
So while I might not “sound like I have anxiety” or “look like I am anxious” (I’m very good at hiding it…) I do have anxiety. I work daily to relieve it, and do work daily to lower it. I often hide when I am down (I’m quieter, I stay home more), and you’ll see when I am happy, which is a lot! I am a genuinely happy and upbeat person, but that doesn’t mean that underneath I am not working through the worry and control and constant need to be “perfect.”
If you have anxiety, what does it look like for you?
Blog post on how I deal with anxiety daily coming soon.