I’m a divorced mother to three kids who works full-time. I love my life; it’s fulfilled, my kids are healthy, but I have high-functioning anxiety.
That means I can do a lot of stuff, and I get a lot done, but there are times (especially right now with cases of COVID-19 on the rise), when I am very stressed out, and I want to hide and not deal with anything.
But I try to deal with everything because I somehow think it will make all the revolving thoughts in my head go away. It doesn’t, but it does calm them down a bit.
When you have anxiety, your mind never stops racing, and sometimes your body isn’t able to keep up. And sometimes you shut down and need an hour to stare out the window.
However, when you do take the time to decompress, it’s harder for you than it is to keep running on fumes.
You need to talk about it in order to cope, and time after time people tell you to ” just relax.”
Here’s the thing: when you tell someone with anxiety to relax, whether its high-functioning or not, it makes them feel small.
They know they can’t relax in that moment. They know they could use some way to calm down, but they’ve already tried to relax, believe me, they can’t.
It makes them feel even more anxious because it’s as if you are pointing a finger at something they are already so aware of and have deemed as one of their flaws.
They want nothing more than to let go and “relax,” but they need to work their way through the emotions and roller coaster going through their mind in order to function.
Sometimes that means freaking out.
Sometimes that means doing nothing.
Sometimes that means suffering through a panic attack.
Sometimes that means making a list about all the things that are bothering them.
Sometimes that means crying, or eating, or drinking way too much.
Sometimes that means asking for help.
Sometimes that means they really just need to be able to talk about what’s on their mind without being told to “just relax.”
It’s not helpful.
If they could just relax, they would.
That’s the thing about anxiety: It makes you who you are, but you suffer because of it. You don’t see people coping with anxiety telling the laid-back people of the world to get more riled up, or start stressing the hell out, do you?
Let’s stop telling people to relax like it’s an option for them, and start asking them what they need instead.
More About Anxiety:
- 8 Tips for Parents Struggling With Anxiety
- I’ve Learned to Accept My Anxiety As My Normal
- This Is Why I Won’t Take Medication For My High-Functioning Anxiety