Anxiety disorders affect 18% of the adult population in the US. That’s over 40 million people. But sometimes anxiety doesn’t look like a classic panic attack or someone who is overtly anxious. Sometimes, it looks calm, put-together, polished. People who have high-functioning anxiety have practiced appearing normal on the outside so no one will know what’s going on underneath the surface. The exterior looks pristine, while inside it’s a mess of racing thoughts and churning feelings.
You may have high-functioning anxiety if:
1. People refer to you (or you refer to yourself) as “Type A” – a real “Perfectionist” – or “anal retentive.” You obsess, stew, overthink situations. If it can be “just so” or you can “get it right” then the anxiety will calm down … or so you think.
2. You have physical tics that appear to just be “bad habits” like nail biting or picking, hair pulling or chewing, biting your lip, cracking your knuckles. They’re all ways you try to physically mitigate the anxiety you feel.
3. You don’t say no. It’s very anxiety-producing to set a boundary by saying no, so you don’t do it. And you keep piling more on your plate, which makes you more anxious.
4. You act like everything’s “fine.” You’re so good at compartmentalizing your emotions and behaving as though things couldn’t be better… no one would ever know how you really feel inside. You are a master at this, a “next-gen” compartmentalizer.
5. You have a reputation for being logical and rational to a fault. You appear this way because you don’t let others know how you’re actually feeling (it’s that whole compartmentalization thing). The downside of compartmentalizing your feelings to “deal with them later” is that “later” rarely comes. The anxiety and the feelings continue to pile up until it becomes unbearable to manage.
6. You constantly dread being judged as not being good enough. If you’re not able to do everything, then that makes you a bad friend, sister, daughter, wife… and on and on. All those negative messages keep the anxiety going strong.
7. You don’t open up because you worry about being accused of “not getting it” since you seemingly live a normal day-to-day life. As long as you’re still “functioning” your anxiety isn’t a problem, right? You assume it will not be perceived as one since it doesn’t “qualify” in the “normal” sense. So, rather than risk it, you say nothing at all.
8. You don’t sleep (a lot). Your mind is going a mile a minute; you can’t turn it off. You want to sleep, but you can’t. You’re very familiar with being exhausted. It weighs on you: physically, mentally, emotionally. It’s a problem.
9. You think you need to be busy to be happy. These days busyness is considered an achievement, but really, it’s a panacea for the fear of what will happen if you stop. The constant go-go-go and “always having something do” keeps your mind distracted from the underlying anxiety that is ever present.
10. You truly fear letting people down. You put enormous pressure on yourself. That pressure stems ultimately from the fear of not being good enough and the fear that if you don’t hold yourself to a super-high standard, you’ll be letting others down. Which feels intolerable, so you keep pushing every single day.
It doesn’t have to be this way. There is help available. If you are struggling with high-functioning anxiety, or anxiety in general, you may benefit from anxiety counseling. From stress management to anxiety reduction to coping skills, we tailor our treatment to meet your needs. Please don’t wait one more day. Give us a call today at (716) 926-6009 or click here to schedule an appointment.