High Functioning Anxiety
Hiding, concealing, covering up, disguising…however you wish to dress it up, I became the master of this, my depression and anxiety. Here’s my story of High Functioning Anxiety. Anything seemed better than actually, being honest to not only other people but most of all to myself, of how I truly felt, and the vast impact it was having on my day to day life.
Sometimes my anxiety and depression was revealed, when I could not be “okay” any longer, when the pretence of hiding how I felt was harder than being anxious. As it was so tiring, exhausting and emotionally draining. Anxiety itself is, but continually covering it up, is something else.
Looking at me and my life, I would probably have seemed to an onlooker as though I had it all. I had a good job, a lovely home, friends, good family and I drove a sports car. What could possibly be wrong with her people would assume? If anyone is “together” and has sorted themselves it was me, they’d say.
Little did they know.
I did not want them to know I wanted to hide my mental health and to do so I became the first-class actress, I didn’t need lessons, as the shame drove me to cover up my true self. The shame came from me and what I anticipated people would think and say. That’s one of the problems with assuming or guessing, you don’t actually know. Check out 11 Signs You Might Have What’s Known As ‘High-Functioning’ Anxiety.
Fooling everybody, when the stomach upsets occurred, which were frequent I hasten to add. Severe indigestion semi controlled with tablets, sweaty palms, that nervous jittery sensation deep in the pit of my gut, covering up my memory loss, playing down and trying to ignore my feelings. I became an expert blagger at people’s names, making jokes and excuses to cover up the fact that I struggled to even remember basic words when my anxiety felt truly at its worst.
Sure, I was always trying to please others, at my own detriment too, and striving for perfection. A perfect image to portray to the world, but it ran deeper than that. I felt real FEAR.
The times I lay awake not able to sleep, as my mind was racing with so many thoughts and “what if’s”. I mastered the art of turning most everyday things into worries. Sometimes it seemed, as though I wasn’t me unless I was caught up in a huge dark ball of worry and could feel the anxiety that had become me.
Eventually, this took its long-term toll on me, and manifested physical illnesses that I just could no longer ignore. It showed itself as an irregular heart beat, which ironically, created further panic and my breathing became dysfunctional. At first I thought it was my controlled asthma flaring up, but after medical investigations, it was the unhealthy pattern of breathing shallowly that I had got into. This was very common apparently, in modern, fast paced life, but had far reaching effects if neglected. I began to have severe neck pain, as this was where the oxygen was not reaching my body as it should. I had to learn to retrain my breathing, which was challenging, and still is, to learn to breathe correctly, from the diaphragm. I was told in no uncertain terms by the hospital staff, to slow down my pace of life or I would suffer further consequences to my health.
It scared me and made me take a long hard look at my life. I made some changes. The first thing I did was sign up to Netflix. Don’t laugh, as I had got to the point where I could hardly sit down and never truly relaxed. It was hard at first, but it really helped to retrain my actions and form new healthier habits. I was beginning to look at my emotional wellbeing. I also changed things in my job, to cope better and eventually, let go of trying to please everyone around me by learning to put myself first.
After adopting a much improved self care routine, my anxiety levels decreased and my physical health did also thank fully.
So, my personal message to you is to be aware, be honest to yourself and have no shame in admitting you are struggling. Counselling was the first step for me and although I felt ashamed, nervous and anxious with the thought and the dread of feeling judged (which I knew was a real biggy for me) of sitting with someone I had never met, I can honestly say it was the turning point for me. If you’re suffering with high functioning anxiety and would like to talk to someone, please book an appointment with Jane at Leicestershire Counselling.