View this post on Instagram
“Anxiety was born in the very same moment as mankind. And since we will never be able to master it, we will have to learn to live with it—just as we have learned to live with storms.” ~ Paulo Coelho
I have always believed that anxious people looked scared and weak, and I was nothing like that.
Whenever my friends discussed fears and phobias, I felt unconcerned since I have none—or so I thought. I mean, I am “Wonder Woman,” after all.
However, I had no clue that I suffer from anxiety, even though I do not faint or scream at the sight of blood, other living creatures, heights, needles, or even ghosts. It’s time I face the truth.
Anxiety is not just being worried and nervous. There are behaviors that will look pretty normal to us and those around us, when, in fact, they are nothing but clear, yet hidden signs of anxiety.
Here are the 10 signs that made me realize that while I can still be Wonder Woman in the back of my mind, my superhero/avatar has anxiety:
While it doesn’t have to always be on something bad, but it is still concerning when we overdo it. I used to sit days watching series just to escape reality and avoid real-life situations and confrontations.
I did the same thing when it came to books. When we read like a maniac one book after the other, thinking we’re just an intellectual “book dragon,” we might want to face the fact that it is another sign of anxiety, like I did.
This Brené Brown quote hit me hard:
“Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.”
I am known for being that person who has to-do lists everywhere, who overschedules, and who is a workaholic. I actually have lists for everything, including one for the qualities of the man I want to be with.
The funny thing is, the man I fell in love with doesn’t fit any given criteria. You know why? Because it was my anxiety that made that list—not me.
Sleep deprivation or oversleeping.
I always assumed that folks who have anxiety cannot sleep, and since insomnia is not a problem of mine, then I am more than fine. However, I disregarded the fact that I sleep a lot, especially when I am going through rough times.
Sometimes, I sleep for 12 hours in a row, which could be as alarming as insomnia.
Avoiding people, events, outings, and social activities.
I cannot count the times I canceled outings—even dates. I am lucky to still have friends and people who love me. When my anxiety hits hard, I cannot even open the door to leave the house. I used to cancel stuff I’d been impatiently waiting for.
At times, I avoided the man I was crazy about, just because I couldn’t control him, my emotions, or the situation, which brings us to the next sign.
Being a control freak.
If you think (like I did) that trying to control people and events is a sign of strength, you might want to think again. It is a clear sign of anxiety simply because Mr. or Ms. Anxiety here has no tolerance whatsoever to uncertainty.
Everything has got to be under control, except our emotions.
Difficulty controlling emotions.
My close friends and family have always assumed that I have anger issues and would jokingly say I might look like Wonder Woman with my long black hair when, in fact, I am more like the Hulk. When I started showing Dr. Banner more, often thinking that my Hulk is under control, I’ve become more irritable, agitated, and frustrated than ever.
Suppressed anger eventually led to uncontrollable episodes of crying and even depression. It is unbelievable how anxiety makes it so hard for us to control the most basic human emotions.
Lack of concentration and focus.
I simply love and believe in what I do for a living. Nevertheless, my job requires an enormous amount of focus, and when anxiety hits, it makes it hard for me to manage my time effectively. I’d be working on an important document when I find myself googling something like “what is the color of SpongeBob’s pants.”
Thankfully, a wave of energy and creativity hits me later, and I make it up.
Body aches and vertigo.
Every single year, I go for a medical checkup, insisting that I have a terminal disease. It baffles me when every single year, my test results show nothing alarming.
Anxiety has that kind of power on our physical well-being. After all, it is the mind that controls everything. Either we learn how to control it or it ends up messing our entire lives.
Ending relationships because of fear of abandonment.
The following Anaïs Nin quote explains best what I might not be able to:
“Anxiety is love’s greatest killer. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic.”
At one point, I would even consider my defiant and challenging behaviors pure power when they were nothing but pure fear of losing the man that I loved the same way I had lost the first man I have ever loved: my father.
Having high expectations from people—even yourself.
I literally messed up friendships, relationships, and even myself just because I raised the bar too high. Anxiety does not have mercy, but kindness does—tolerance, acceptance, and love definitely do.
If you find yourself asking for too much and being disappointed for not having it your way, remember that anxiety is overdemanding, while love is self-sufficient and unconditional.
Dead bodies float while the living, despite fluttering and struggling, might not survive the water. The only thing that helped me was knowing that through it all, even amidst the most chaotic and hardest days, what is meant to be will be.
“Do not let your difficulties fill you with anxiety, after all it is only in the darkest nights that stars shine more brightly.” ~ Ali Ibn Abi Talib RA