It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

anxiety

Have you ever acted a certain way because of your anxiety? I know that I sure have. I think it’s because of this (and because it’s a feeling I know allllllll too well), that I am so passionate about being kind, because you truly never know what battle someone is facing. I think anyone reading this who struggles with anxiety knows what it feels like to have to pretend, to have to act and put on a performance whilst battling that pesky little thing anxiety sitting on your shoulder and screaming in your ear. I am a prime example of being able to put on a smile whilst I am having a meltdown on the inside. I’ve done it that often that I’m quite a pro at it (where’s my Oscar at?!) and it’s only my inner circle that see past that, and see the anxiety in action.

I’m all for being accountable for your behaviour and your actions, but the truth is, it’s hard to not hide behind anxiety and use it as an excuse, of course it’s bloody well hard because it’s so out of your control. And the fact of the matter is, the blatant cold hard truth is, that anxiety can have such a crippling and completely debilitating effect on you. And it’s because of this, that we should all remember to be a little kind, a little more compassionate and a little more understanding. Next time you go to judge someone, take a step back and approach it with compassion and realise that there might be something else going on behind the scenes that you simply have no idea about.

Sometimes I think it must be so exhausting being married to me, being one of my closest friends or family members because I know how frustrated I get with my anxiety…and I ‘understand’ it to a degree, well, I have at least become familiar with it – whether I like it or not is a whole different story. Sometimes I think no matter how much they love me, it must be so frustrating sitting back and watching it have a hold on me. Sometimes I think it must be so hard for them to not understand completely. Anxiety can creep up out of nowhere, or lay dormant for days. And to be honest, I know with mine in particular, even when it’s out of sight, it never truly is…it’s constantly just sitting on my shoulder. I’ve actually become better at letting it know that it can sit there and tag along for the ride as long as it damn-well likes, but it’s not gonna cripple me. I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about how lucky I am to be so loved, and how patient, supportive and understanding those close to me are. They are incredible. Period. And I am so grateful to them for loving me… and loving all of me, with or without anxiety. Anxiety has this incredible way of making you feel less than and not even recognising yourself. There are so many times I think to myself.. this isn’t me, this is my anxiety. It also has such a hold on you at times, and all you can do is put on your best performance, or shy away entirely. It can make your words, actions and behavior confusing to those around you, especially when it steers you off course from who you are. So, to my (amazing) inner circle… and to anyone reading this that knows, sees and understands the behavior, the excuses and the complexities of it all too well (from the little ones to the big ones)… this one’s for you.

 

…It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

 

When I question everything… It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I say no to something you thought I would like….. It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I ask the same question a thousand times over (because it’s playing on my mind) It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I jump to the worst possible scenario It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I seek reassurance It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I play a conversation over and over in my head It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I have worries that you struggle to understand how I’ve even conjured them up It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I need to check that my phone is in my bag even though I literally just checked... It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I need to do the same for my hand sanitiser…and use it constantlyIt’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I’m fixated on a problem / or have conjured up the craziest worst case scenarios… It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I feel like I’m not good enough… It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I over analyse something It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I have a continuous stream of worries… It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I feel out of touch… It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I am so self aware It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I need to know the plan and can’t be spontaneous… It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I stick to a routine and favor familiarity… It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I panic that I’ve lost something (when really it’s just at the bottom of my bag) It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I am overwhelmed It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I can’t be rational… It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I procrastinate It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I get incredibly nervous meeting new people… It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I’m with you but go MIA for a minute and you can tell I’ve drifted off into worry-world… It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I just can’t shut off and relax… It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I’m constantly a million miles away with my mind ticking over… It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When we’re out and I seem like I’m not having fun It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When we’re in a crowd and I tell you I’m not feeling well all of a sudden It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I struggle to lock in plans…. It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I have to say no to something that I would actually really love to do… It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I’m scared and questioning whether ‘it is just my anxiety or something worse’ It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I’m so insecure no matter how many times you tell me how beautiful I am It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I shrug a compliment off or deflect the subject back to you It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When you don’t answer and I start to panic…. It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I’m in a social situation and I am so self aware It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I have zero self confidence… It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I take things to heart… It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I’m feeling sorry for myself, lacking any self love… It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I have to stop you in the mid-conversation because I can feel a panic attack coming on… It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I need to double, triple, quadruple check the oven / stovetop / straightening irons…. It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I’m Too Anxious To Do Anything It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I feel like a shell of myself… It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I start to question if I will ever feel ‘normal’ again… It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

When I don’t even recognize myself at all… It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

 

To be honest, this list is endless for me, as I’m sure it is for you. My anxiety makes me do a lot of really dumb, stupid, annoying, frustrating, patience-testing things… in a nutshell: it makes life difficult. But, it’s a beautiful reminder to be kind…to yourself and one another.

I long to be carefree and for once be spontaneous and not have an endless list of ‘what if’ and ‘have you done’ lists running through my head. It is horrible and something I often want to just buzz right off and leave me alone.

It’s isolating and leaves you feeling so vulnerable and lonely, sometimes it can be a familiar trigger and other times it can be something that you’re not even aware of. That’s the thing with anxiety, it’s not a one-size-fits-all kinda thing. It’s a work in progress, with the key word being work – something that I have to actively work at every. single. day. I’m by no means ‘cured’, I’m really quite early on in my journey… one thing that has really helped me as I delve in and sit face to face with it, is knowing that I am not alone. There is power in community, there is power in not feeling like ‘the weird’ one and it shifts something, I can’t explain it but acknowledging it and voicing it – well that in itself takes away some of the power from the anxiety. And my wish for you, is to know that you are not alone. There are so many people suffering, and whether silently or vocally, whether being high functioning or barely being able to get out of bed.. it coms in all different versions but there is a common thread. And slowly but surely you’re going to get there. Please be kind to yourself, because you’re doing the freaking best you can.

I’d love for you to share below your It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety statements. And in the meantime… keep swimming, you’ve got this x

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  • Hi!

    I just wanted to say thankyou for writting such a beautiful article! lately i feel like I have completely lost my battle with my anxiety! I don’t recognise my self! but this article has made me realise that I am not my anxiety! I am looking forward to sharing this article with close family and friends so that they can better understand me as i am sure sometimes they are really frustrated! I can never lock in plans because I don’t know I how i am going to feel on any given day! that’s got to be annoying for them!!

    thanks again!

    lots of love!

    Grace

    • Hi Grace!
      Thank you so much for reading it!! I am so glad it resonated with you and it’s something you can share with close family and friends to have better understanding. You are definitely not your anxiety lovely and I know sometimes it’s so hard to feel that way when you feel as though it has such a grip on you, but always remember that. It’s a big mountain to climb but it’s all about keeping one foot in front of the other xxx

    • I totally agree – “who am I?”
      I just keep tracing it back to the fact that “I” has been majorly backburnered. I live to care for my family and I’m in a vacuum of stay at home mom life. I get out often and socialize and have an amazing tribe, but when I consistently neglect my needs (right down to peeing), that’s when it makes sense that I’ve become a troubled stranger to myself. Hang in there. You’re not alone. This is hard but not impossible!

  • this sounds all so so relatable, thank you so much for it! my statement:
    “When I sound mad at you whilst being frustrated because of my mind” – its not you, its my anxiety.
    I want my mom to know that I am really not angry at her, and that I don’t think she is doing a wrong job as a mom. She is my biggest support. Anytime, I do make her feel like that…. its because I am struggeling way too much and I don’t know how to deal with it. Not always okay, but its the reality I struggle with.

    • Thank you so much for sharing!! Yesssss, that is a very common one. I know you don’t always feel okay and it’s a struggle but know that you are not alone in the struggle. And I am sure your mom knows and understands, just let her know how you feel and how much you appreciate her. Sometimes, when we’re struggling and feeling overwhelmed it’s so easy to take it out on those closest to us. You’re doing an amazing job, just be gentle with yourself and please keep putting one foot in front of the other and know that you are not your anxiety x

  • Wow. I could’ve done with this post when I snapped at my boyfriend a few months ago. So true. Good advice. When I say something horrible and lash out.. It’s not you. It’s my anxiety
    wull share this

  • Hi,

    When I can’t talk, get angry, cry, can’t breath… It’s not you it’s my Anxiety.

    When I say I’m such a burden and you deserve better… It’s not you it’s my Anxiety.

    Thank you so much. I hope this helps my fiancé to understand. He is the most supportive and loving partner.

    • Hi Zoe! Thank you for sharing – I can absolutely relate to both of those statements. You are so welcome, it was so scary to press publish on this one but I knew if it could make one person feel less alone, or one person have a better understanding, it was worth facing the fear. I hope your fiancé enjoys reading this, and when the anxiety tells you otherwise (as it so often loves to do!) just remember how loved and supported you are. Together, we’ve got this! x

  • This brought a tear to my eye, sometimes we forget we are not alone. I can relate wholeheartedly to your words. thankyou for sharing

    • Thank you so much for your sweet comment Meagan, this truly warms my heart and means so much to me. I hope you always remember that you’re never alone, despite how isolated and lonely you can feel at times. You’re doing amazing!!

    • Hi Melinda, thank you so much for your kind words! It can be so hard to understand and explain no matter what side of anxiety you’re on, it’s such a complex beast, so your comment means so much to me x

  • Hey!

    Sometimes we come across things that change our whole direction. Tonight, this article came to me when I needed it the most. Thank you for sharing. Reading this helps more than I can tell you. Keep up with the amazing job your doing.

    Changing the world one article at at time!
    Xx

    Katy

    • Katy, your beautiful message has brought tears to my eyes and I can’t quite find the words so I will begin by just saying thank you so much. It is funny how the Universe works and how things come to us at the perfect timing, just when we need them most. It means so much to me that this article landed in your orbit when you needed it, and I need to tell you that your words have had a profound impact on me. I was so scared (actually, terrified) to share this, but decided to face the fear and press publish in the hope that it would make one person feel less alone. Thank you sooooo much for this comment, it truly means so much to me xx

  • Wow. I definitely needed this today as I’m on week two of feeling a major anxiety surge. I’ve been suffering since my PPD (my daughter, I didn’t have it with my first baby) about 2 years ago but only saw my doctor this past May. I take low dose medication which I HATE but now the risks of weaning off are greater than staying with it during my now 3rd pregnancy. I’m trying meditation, I picked up some sage smudge sticks to clear my home and mind of negative energy, I’ve been majorly into my bible and prayer (helps tremendously, and I’m scheduling me time more regularly (including a massage!). I struggle MOST with giving myself grace, so your “be kind to yourself” meant more than you know. When I am so deep in my pit of hopelessness that any effort to pull me out of it is rejected because “I just can’t”, it’s not you, it’s my anxiety. When I lose it on my kids, really – after being patient and respectful, it’s not them, it’s my anxiety. My biggest key is time for ME. Much admiration for this post and sharing those painfully relatable and vulnerable truths. Xxoo

    • Carolyn!! Thank you so much, for your kind words and for sharing your story and your It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety statements. I’m so sorry to hear your struggles, I feel you, I hear you, I’m there with you. It is most definitely challenging, isolating and scary at times but you are by no means alone. And you know what, you’ve just gotta do what you’ve gotta do to get through. There is no right or wrong. You are spot on with the self care though – it is key. It’s something that we often let fall to the wayside and don’t prioritize. But truly, being kind to yourself, being gentle with yourself and taking the time out for YOU is imperative and something I notice has a tremendous impact on my anxiety. It’s all a journey and remind yourself (all the time but especially when your anxiety tells you otherwise) that you are doing a freaking amazing job!! Keep shining bright and know that you are not your anxiety..You’re doing your best lovely, which is all you can do. Thank you for sharing a part of your journey and for sharing kindness, it means so much to me xx

  • Thank you so much for writing this.
    I suffer from severe anxiety and everything you wrote resonated with me 100%. Reading this actually brought me to tears. Some days are so difficult, and the burden I know that I’ve become on my friends and family, as well as myself, because of my anxiety, is a constant struggle, but I just try to keep moving forward and making progress towards managing it better. The more people talk/write about it, the more understanding there is, so thank you.

    When I insist we sit near an exit at events… it’s not you, it’s my anxiety.

    Thanks again,

    Kiana
    Xo

    • Thank you so much Kiana for your incredibly beautiful comment and for sharing, it really moved me because it’s a feeling I know ALL too well. However, please know that you are not a burden, and your friends and family love you for YOU! It certainly comes in waves for me too and some days / weeks / months are more challenging than others. But all you can keep doing is continue to put one foot in front of the other and remember that you are not alone, you are not your anxiety and you will get to the top of that mountain. Be kind to yourself and tell that girl staring back at you in the mirror what an amazing job she is doing at managing her anxiety and what an all-round-wonderful person she is!! Your statement also resonated with me… I’m definitely an aisle-sitting-kinda girl 😉 Thank you again for taking the time to stop by and share xx

  • Hi! I recently had a ‘good’ friend turn her back on me and tell me that I “use my anxiety and depression as an excuse not to hang out”. We are no longer friends however she needs to read this because you have described the crippling effect to a tee. Anxiety (and other mental health disorders), are the worst things in the world to deal with and even though there are a handful of compassionate people who understand, many don’t and I think they need to be more aware and educate themselves on how to be kinder and more accepting!

    Thank you & lots of love

    xx

    • Hi Kate, thank you for sharing – I’m so sorry to hear this. I hope this article brings awareness to the fact that they aren’t excuses and it’s not you… it is your anxiety which at times can have such a hold on you and be so horribly crippling and frustrating all in one. And I truly hope that the more we talk about it, the more it will promote kindness and remind people to always lead with kindness because you never know what someone is going through or what is going on behind their ‘excuses’. Thank you for sharing and for bravely continuing to fight the fight. Keep going. Sending you much love xx

  • Hi

    I always appreciate reading someone else’s words, knowing that someone actually understands.
    I have been battling anxiety for a good ten years, I feel like I missed most of my 20’s because of it.
    I see it in friends also, but it consumes people in so many different ways. I am currently managed by some decent medication but would love to know some of your coping methods (if any), I am keen to learn about mindfulness and need to find someone to teach meditation.
    Thank you for your awareness xxx

    • Thank you so much for sharing, it means so much to me that it resonates with you and serves as a reminder that you are not alone – we are most definitely all in this together. Anxiety is such a complex beast and really does affect others in a multitude of ways and intensities. And yes, I absolutely do! Please stay tuned, there are some articles coming on coping mechanisms, tools and a lot on mindfulness. Keep an eye out over the coming weeks. Thank you again for taking the time to stop by, remember how amazing you’re doing by battling with it each and every day! xx

  • Thank you so much Cassandra ,
    You have beautifully outed a struggle that I’ve convinced myself is “embarrassing”, “pathetic” and “pretend” more times than I can count.

    Your article made me feel at peace, taking a little blame off of myself and helping me to see that anxiety is not a part of me, but just an annoying visitor.

    For anyone in a similar position, here’s all I have to add:

    When I agonize over easy decisions for days, then regret whatever I choose – it’s not you, it’s my anxiety.

    When one mistake is interpreted as evidence for my inability to do anything right – it’s not you, it’s my anxiety.

    And, when asking for help is the last thing I’d do if my life depended on it – it’s not you, it’s my anxiety.

    • Maddie! Thank YOU so much!! Your It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety statements are a very welcome addition to the list and so relatable… it’s like you plucked them straight out of my brain! Thank you for your kind message, it really does mean so much to me. I promise you, despite what your anxiety has you believing, you are not any of those things… instead, tell that girl staring back at you in the mirror that she is wonderful, brave, strong and amazing. Be gentle with yourself lovely and remind yourself what a freaking incredible job you’re doing battling with it, it’s hard because it is a vicious cycle and anxiety points things out as evidence to strengthen its case but it’s not you and by putting one foot in front of the other, one day it will all be a distant memory… for both of us! xx

  • Wow. I cried the whole way through. Everything you said was me to a T. It shocking to be honest how much I related. Eye opening actually.
    Thank you for your words and honesty. You have no idea how much I appreciate it.

    • Oh Sarah! Your comment has touched my heart and truly means so much to me, thank you thank you for your incredibly kind words. I’m so grateful to you for sharing. I hope that it reminded you lovely that you are not alone, you are not broken and it’s not you xx

  • Thank you! Thank you! I’ve had anxiety as long as I can remember… ever present in the good and the bad moments of my life. It was comforting to know I’m not the only one whose mind races to strange places and who always assumes it’s my fault when something goes wrong, a friendship does not prosper, my kids do something other than be angels… I live with guilt and shame trying to control and hide it, and more often than not it finds its way out, generally through my skin. As a mom, I try so very hard to keep it from them and make sure they never feel it themselves. I try to be strong and confident, but it is a struggle, a less lonely one when I read posts like yours, so thank you!

    • Hi Ceci, thank you so much for sharing. I’m so glad it resonated with you and helps make you feel less lonely… you are definitely not alone. It is such a struggle and it’s feels like a constant battle up a never ending mountain. You want to be confident and strong but the then anxiety makes you feel anything but. I too have had it as long as I can remember and even when it’s not ‘there’ it’s still ‘there’ and mine too comes out in my skin a lot of the time. Hang in there and remember you are doing an amazing job as a person, a mom and a friend. You’re battling it one day at a time and every day it’s making you stronger, even when you don’t necessarily feel it. Thank you so much for reading and for your kind words xx

  • I am reading this during a ‘rough patch with my own anxiety struggles. Thank you for writing this. Sometimes it’s so easy to feel like the only one that goes through these things. Sometimes all we can do is hope tomorrow is a better day. It’s nice to feel like I am not alone. Thank you <3

    • Hi Devon, thank you so much for taking the time to write in. I’m so sorry to hear you’re going through a rough patch – it’s the nature of the beast unfortunately and those rough patches can feel so isolating and scary. But please know you are most certainly not alone, I can assure you of that! One of my favorite ever quotes is This Too, Shall Pass and it’s something I keep in the forefront of my mind, especially when I am having a challenging time with anxiety… you are stronger than you know and it will pass, the heaviness will lift. Thank you for sharing, hang in there and please use this article as a constant reminder that you are not the only one going through it xx

  • Thank you. Feels like I wrote it.
    Trough this journey, I learned kindness towards people. And me (finally).
    I learned I have a body and that I should take care of it.
    I learned patience.
    But most important I learned that I’m strong. Stronger than most people because I face my fears (even though I don’t always choose).
    I’m human. We all have our struggles. Keep strong and be proud of you.

    • Thank you Delphine! Yes yes yes, I couldn’t love your comment more. So very true!! And if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that self kindness is sooooo important to counteract anxiety. Your body and mind need to be nourished to thrive.
      I absolutely love what you said about being strong – even though at times we have no choice but to face our fears and it’s so freaking scary, each and every time we do, we become stronger and this is so important to reflect upon.
      You’ve hit the nail on the head – we’re all human which is why kindness to each other (& ourselves) is paramount… For, She Is You.
      Thank you for reading, sharing your thoughts and your kind words x

  • I’m so happy I stumbled upon this article via Teresa Palmer’s Instagram page. I’m beyond grateful that you’ve shared what I tend to find too hard to articulate. This past year has been a rollercoaster of anxiety issues for me, I’ve been either completely outside or hidden way deep inside of myself, there was a gigantic stressor around this time last year that set me off like a neuclar bomb, everyday has felt mentally challenging, there were times I’d go to bed at night absolutely exhausted because all I did was fight through my fears. It’s getting better, I’m slowly gaining my confidence back, I’m trying to forgive myself for being so hard on myself for my struggles, I’m trying everyday to put one foot in front of the other without questioning if I’m doing it right or living in fear that I’ll fall flat on my face (literally and figuratively). The thing that a lot of people don’t understand about this affliction is we want so badly to overcome our episodes, but that voice, that pesky mocking evil little voice, repeatedly reminds us ‘go ahead, get through this, but I’m coming back, and most likely with a vengeance’, it’s a gigantic hurdle to overcome, that voice discourages us to fight, I know it’s not everyone, but that voice has been a constant in my adult life, I cannot count how many times that voice has made me absolutely despise myself, I’ve wanted to give up, I’ve done the whole ‘why bother?’ schpeal. The battle will always be there, I appreciate that you had mentioned having a support group, it’s so very important to surround yourself with patient loving individuals, but it can be very hard to find. Not to sound like ‘misery lives company’, but I am glad there are others out there fighting the same fight, we are not alone, the voice tries to tell us we are, but we aren’t and we should not be ashamed. Thank you so much for your article, it was a breath of fresh air to read. – H

    • Hi Holly, thank you so much for being brave enough to share all of this and for your kind words. I am so glad you stumbled across this piece via Teresa’s sweet post, that means so much to me and I am so grateful to her for sharing it and I am so touched that it offered you a breath of fresh air when you needed it. As I read through your comment, I was nodding and yes-ing and felt as though I was reading some of my own thoughts. There is such a familiarity and I know all too well that feeling of being utterly exhausted from fighting fears all day (and sometimes all through the night too). It is frustrating, exhausting and at times can feel never ending. But I am slowly starting to, and I hope you do too, recognise and be proud of myself for those days. Because you know what? You did make it through, as exhausting as it was and it makes you stronger. You’ve got the key right there, it’s one foot in front of the other and even when the mountain seems insurmountable, actually especially at those times, you’ve just gotta keep putting one foot in front of the other. Remember to be kind to yourself and appreciate how wonderful and strong you are. Whenever that frigg’n annoying voice pops up – and boy does it pop up no matter how many times you tell it to go away – tell it that you’ve got this and you’re a fighter, a warrior and soon enough that voice will get dimmer and dimmer until it’s a faint whisper. And please please always remember you are never alone xx