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Five lies about Anxious People

"Anxiety is the handmaiden of Creativity"
- T.S Eliot

My mind is full. There isn't a spare square inch for these lists I keep seeing about what does and what does not constitute anxiety, the very need to define and to categorise is enough to induce one of my migraines and retaliation seems like the best medicine for that. Here are some things that I've read recently and whole-heartedly disagree with about anxious people. They match up nicely with my new sweatshirt from Romwe which I will wear around the hospital this week, a cheap shield of irony and juvinile sarcasm which proves surprisingly if not particularly intelligently effective at times. Besides, I'm fine thank you

1. We can't leave the house

I'm such an extroverted whirlwind of a person that you wouldn't believe that I suffer from anxiety. I'm the high-functioning, crash and burn type, swinging eternally from fizzing enthusiasm to cold, flat indifference. Being socially anxious isn't always about being agoraphobic. I can happily apply my make-up, curate an outfit, skip to the taxi, attend the party and circulate for a full 30 minutes before the inevitably debilitating sensation of panic washes over me, prompting me to drift from the crowd and quietly hyperventilate in a side-street. It's not always about not being able to leave the house it's about not being able to adequately cope with whatever or whoever we find outside our front door. Sometimes things get too much and we need to go home early from the party or cancel the dinner plans but anxiety doesn't mean that we are confined to our homes forever, we might just need a time-out now and then

2. We are insomniacs

Anxious people are famously insomniacs but that just isn't me. I grow so tired of the thoughts that collect in my head and pile up throughout the day that I covet the nighttime and the peace I mistakenly think I'll find there. But even when I sleep I'm not free, the thoughts continue to manifest themselves into vivid dreams that drip into one another like a watercolour painting. I feel like I spend so much time during the day with so many tabs open, worrying and planning that it simply transfers from conscious to unconscious thought and there simply are not enough hours of the night to replenish myself and refuel sufficiently. An anxious friend recently reported that she had slept for 22 hours straight and felt amazing as a result, I feel this. Constant worrying and stressing would tire anyone out and sometimes people don't understand how someone so high functioning could require an "off day" but the intense concentration and control required to function efficiently under the crushing pressure of anxiety is overwhelming

3. We are penny-pinchers

For a few minutes and sometimes for a few hours I can fool myself into thinking that a pretty scarf or a pair of shoes can cure my heartache, as if I could soak up their shiny newness by holding them to my chest like a bandage. Anxious people often seek comfort for their anxiety in material possessions, this manifests itself in a surfeit of shoes, clothes, gadgets, keyring, trinket bowls and a permanent overdraft. I used to be absolutely awful for this and got myself into lot of trouble with store cards when I was at university, these days I'm a little bit more considered when get the urge to cheer myself up. Don't get me wrong it's great to treat yourself instead of expecting other people to shower you with gifts. I am furiously independent and have always gone out and paid for what I want but it's all about balance and I'm still learning. Despite the fact that I pay hundreds of pounds every month for cognitive therapy I still fight the urge to run to the shops for the retail kind when I'm stressed. I'm still programmed to think that I'll find piece of mind hanging on a rail or sitting on a shelf waiting for me

4. We are neat and tidy

I am the messiest perfectionist you'll ever meet. I'm the most disorganised organised person I know. I'm such a mass of contradictions in so many ways and this is just one other. I carefully curate, decorate, accessorise and oversee the cleaning of my home only to leave coffee cups strewn about and empty contact lens cases balanced on side tables. I'm often so rushed that my make-up is left strewn across my dressing room and the bath has a permanent ring of glitter around it or a handful of petals drying by the plug. My bag is filled with crumpled Starbucks receipts covered in scribbled poetry and half used lip balms and books litter the floor of my office, too many to count. My anxiety leaves me feeling on edge all the time, jumping from task to task in a frenzy. It robs me of the time I require to finish my photographic or literary tasks to the best of my ability as my burning desire to create and to learn is often overwhelmed by a crippling self-doubt that leaves me exhausted (See point 2) The mess seems to follow me around as closely as the black cloud does

5. We look like wrecks 

When I'm really struggling with my anxiety I make an extra-special effort with my appearance in the hopes that feeling more comfortable in my body will combat my feelings of panic that are shuffling around inside it. At the same time, it's always typical that a bad hair day, a rogue mascara brush to the eyeball or a coffee spill onto a freshly ironed and specially selected white shirt will happen when I'm at my most fraught. The smallest error inevitably triggers a disproportionate outburst of hysteria that reddens my eyes and makes me late to the meeting. Despite my lateness I will often sweep into the room in an immaculate state, confuting the earlier evidence of my delicate mental state and giving every indication that I am poised and in control. I am like a swan, calm and serene on the surface but paddling frantically to stay afloat, the raw and ulcerated inside of my chewed lower lip the only irrefutable evidence of my tormented inner workings

What I've learnt is that no matter how many symptom lists you read or Thought Catalogue definitions you share on your social media feeds Anxiety will never 100% fit in to a definite list of symptoms. People, by nature, like everything to be neatly parcelled away into tidy little categories forgetting that life and people beyond the screen aren't like that. These preconceived notions of what are and what are not symptoms aren't helping anyone, least of all those of us who can't or won't fit the bill. Perhaps we should simply embrace all the things that make us individuals, whether that's the colour of our eyes, our favourite food or how we chose to weather our private storms 


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  1. I love this! I have been struggling with anxiety a lot lately and this has helped me feel a little more normal. I actually wrote a post about it last week which is due to be posted tomorrow. X

    1. So glad it helped, anxiety can be such a terrifyingly strong invisible force. Mine comes in waves throughout the year and I've learnt to just roll with it when it comes now and to make the most of my non-anxious periods. I really hope you feel better soon though xx

  2. I loved reading this! You've definitely nailed the truth and realities behind suffering with anxiety. Also love that sweatshirt x

    Lauren |

    1. Thank you Lauren, I think anxiety effects everyone differently but I was tired of not fitting into these perceived ideas of what it is. Hopefully I've helped a few others to feel better if they, like me, don't fit the "symptom" list. xx

  3. I love this. Completely agree. Also, nice jumper!xx

  4. I totally love this Milly, it's so true because people expect depression and anxiety to look and be displayed in a very one dimensional way. Which is wrong. This is a really powerful post, I loved reading it x

    1. Exactly! I hate the narrow way these things are viewed. People start to be looked at a symptom list rather than as a human being, we'e all different and we all deal with things in our own way bu that doesn't mean that we should be taken any less seriously or treated differently xx

  5. That was really unusual. I like the fresh look you've created and I hope that you'll make more notes on the topic in the future.


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