“It’s All In Your Head!” – Things Anxiety Sufferers Are Sick Of Hearing

It’s really, really likely that you know someone who has some sort of struggle with anxiety or a full fledged anxiety disorder. You would think that since anxiety is so common (literally everyone experiences it from time to time, just with some to a higher severity), that people may be a little more understanding, but sometimes, it can be hard to find sympathetic people. There are definitely moments where you want to look at people and just scream, because they just don’t get it. And thats fine! Not everyone is going to understand the struggle, and thats okay. However, here are some things that I am tired of hearing as an anxiety sufferer. Disclaimer: Everyone experiences anxious feelings on different levels and has different experiences. Yours may not be the same as mine and thats okay!

“It’s all in your head!”

Well.. no duh. Things that make us anxious vary from person to person, but if you’re like me, sometimes you don’t need much of a reason. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD for short), which makes me anxious for no no reason most days. So yes, it is all in my head, but that doesn’t make it any easier or less real. Everyday comes with its own challenges and little uncertainties, with some of those challenges being unseen.

“Can’t you just snap out of it? You’re being dramatic!”

This one sucks. I manage to keep my anxiety under wraps for the most part, but when it comes to the surface from time to time, all I want is a hug and some encouragement. I promise that I’m not trying to act like a baby or be annoying, but the physical responses that my body has to anxiety can be terrifying. Sometimes it can cause me to act on the strange side, but only in dire situations where I have no other escape. While it might seem dramatic or aloof to the outsider, it’s just an attempt to get to a safe place to calm down my physiological responses.

“You’re no fun! You never want to go out!”

Ah. This one. A true favorite.

I am wholeheartedly an introvert. I would rather spend the day snuggled up on the couch watching documentaries, eating snacks and with a glass of wine than going out to bars or partying. This might just be a personality trait, but it’s probably affected by my anxiety as well. Places like parties, bars, and other crowded places just add fuel to the fire, and I need rest with all that social interaction. It really wears on me. A couple hours where I have to work hard to keep my anxiety in check can leave me totally dead. Its like a mental marathon for me.

“Can’t you just get over it?”

I wish. Lord.

I’ve had anxiety and anxious feelings way back to when I was maybe 7 or 8. Things didn’t start to manifest more until I was around 11, but trust me, if it was something I could just “get over”, I would have done it ages ago. For me, I have a feeling that anxious feelings will likely be with me my entire life, but working towards better coping skills is always on the fore front for me. As I grow and my anxiety changes, I learn new ways to circumnavigate the issues and deal better. So in a way, this might be “getting over it”, but not quite. It’s my constant companion, just like any other chronic illness. I’m working hard everyday to learn how to thrive more!

“Oh my gosh, I’m having a panic attack over this exam!”

Oh boy. Somehow, this became a thing, and I hear it ALL THE TIME. “Panic attack” seems to be a synonym for freaking out or the like, and I hate it. I don’t have full fledged panic attacks frequently, but the ones I have had have been some of the most terrifying experiences of my life. If you haven’t experienced one ever, to put it into perspective, people sometimes will go to the ER when experiencing their first attack because they think they are having some sort of cardiac event. They’re absolutely no joke, and not your synonym for being nervous about a test or for “freaking out” over school. It’s a symptom and an illness, and not really much of a joke.

However.. here’s what you can do for your friends and family when they aren’t feeling their best.

I know, you’ve read through this and probably are like “Could you complain any more?!”, so I wanted to be sure that I included the things that my friends and family could do to alleviate the pressure that comes with daily anxiety.

  • Encourage me! The little pats on the shoulder and encouragements mean the world and I NEVER forget them. I log those little moments away for when it gets tough again in the future.
  • Hugs. Not during an attack (please no.) but after or the next day always are nice. I’m often really run down the day after a bigger attack, so a hug always makes things a little bit better.
  • Ask! If you have a friend who struggles with anxiety, ask them what you can do to help! Everyone is different, responds differently, and might have a suggestion for you that can help them in the future. Plus, understanding how someone else feels during those moments is just about priceless.

For more information about mental health and anxiety disorders, feel free to visit the National Institute of Mental Health’s website.

Awareness and education is key to better understanding of those around you. As always, feel free to reach out in the comments below if you have any questions regarding my experience or anything experiences to share of your own.

Much love, Emily

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  1. This. All of this! Especially the “panic attack” one. I vividly remember my first panic attack. I was a flight attendant and at our layover hotel. I was violently trembling, could barely breathe and my heart was racing. I was freezing and sweating. I called a friend and had them stay on the phone with me until it passed but almost did call 911 because I thought something was seriously wrong health wise. Scariest moment of my life!

    1. It really is something else. Thankfully I don’t get them too often, but they can be really scary.

  2. I resonate with all of this!!! It sucks when people don’t take anxiety seriously or even make fun of it. Thank you for this post!

    1. Its a struggle! Thanks for stopping by Emily!

  3. Anxiety is more than people think it is. We are not crazy and we can’t always help what our mind and bodies do. I try to get my family to understand, but doesn’t help,

    1. It really is! It can be difficult to understand if you haven’t lived through it unfortunately.

  4. I used to say that I was having a panic attack over little things like an exam or a big project. But now that I actually have them i know that I was being insensitive, without even trying.

    1. I catch myself saying things all the time that aren’t quite right myself, but little bits of awareness really helps!

  5. I think it’s wonderful that you’ve wrote this in depth to show people how you’re feeling. I imagine the people around you are already supportive but at least they genuinely know how they could help. My dad suffers with anxiety a lot and I’ve always found encouraging him or just even staying calm myself and acting normal always helps 🙂

  6. Great tips on how to help those who suffer anxiety issues. I love this post and let me tell you why:
    I think part of the problem is lack of true understanding. Its a frustrating problem on both side that the introverted quiet sufferer of anxiety needs to understand also. What I mean is that for those of us who dont get affected by or recover from anxiety easier, we dont understand those of you who do get affected or dont recover as well. Not because we dont care, in fact if you are hearing comments then perhaps it is because we care too much and are worried since we dont understand. Then couple that with you not telling us anything because of frustrations with us or your introverted personality makes it even more of a disaster.
    Now I am not blaming your side for lack of info as much as you arent trying to blame us for bugging the crap out of you…its both sides fault.
    Thus why I love this post because it is finally some open communication that us crazy loud mouthed extroverted knuckleheads can see, ingest, and hopefully understand.

  7. It’s very difficult to understand a panic attack if you’ve never had one. My husband had one years ago and then it became a cyclical thing because he’d get anxious about having another one. He is much better now, thank goodness but I know what a scary time that was for him. I try to be as supportive as I can but I also know I don’t know what he’s going through.

  8. I don’t really suffer from anxiety, but I am a total introvert who doesn’t like crowded places. You seriously described the perfect day for me — couch, movies, snacks — I’m into it.

  9. Love this! Thank you for sharing. My best friend and I both deal with different types of anxiety – it is so nice to be able to confide in each other, but I wish other people knew how to support/help us sometimes.

  10. I love the points you mentioned in this article. I also used to suffer from higher levels of anxiety in my previous work, which was just awful and really stressful. The worst thing is that no one really tries to understand your problem when you really need some help.

  11. Excellent post. You have outlined some excellent guides for helping friends who suffer from anxiety.

  12. Great suggestions, both for the person dealing with anxiety, and those who love them. As someone who struggles with it myself, the dreaded – “it is all in your head,” or “you will be fine,” make me absolutely nuts!

  13. Such good suggestions. I have massive panic attacks in large crowds and the last thing I want is to be touched. But a goof eye contact calm down talk works wonders!

    xoxo Christie

  14. I’ve heard so many of these things in relation to my anxiety and it can be super frustrating because people just don’t seem to understand what it’s really like. Great list.

  15. Anxiety is so real! I struggle with anxiety myself. It can be very hard somedays. I remember having an anxiety attack at the top of the Ferris Wheel at the fair with my daughter sitting next to me. It just came on out of nowhere and I felt so bad because she waited all day to go on the ride with me. Thanks for sharing your story. It is inspiring! 🙂

  16. I can totally relate to all of these. It can be such a struggle. My husband for instance has never had anxiety and didn’t understand it at all until he saw that it really is uncontrollable.

  17. I really think you are so right about the fact that the problem is in the head. Anxiety is so real and yet so few people can actually understand it.

  18. Great advice! I may not have anxiety as bad as you, but I do experience a lot of it at work and it sometimes express itself in outbursts of anger and sheer dread or fear for me. (I’m on the spectrum.) I hate when that happens to me, but your post is much needed so that more people would be understanding and empathetic to our struggles.

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