If you have to ask yourself this question a lot, the answer is (most likely) yes.
To be honest, I did not think I suffered from anxiety. I have always been a very positive and peaceful person. I embraced life with an effervescent optimism and quiet contentment. Anxiety? Me? No way! Despite my adamant denial, I did not realize I was living with various symptoms of anxiety every day. It was always there, creeping in undetected. Here are some of the signs I missed that might be relevant to your situation:
Imagining what others think and say about me.
I was constantly preoccupied with what others were thinking about me. At social events, my mind was derailed by thoughts of how others would respond and what they would be saying. For some mysterious reason, what others said or thought about me consumed my entire life. I found myself tormented by the fear of disapproval and mockery. I am a “nobody” in their eyes. It felt so important to be liked and accepted by others. I derived my sense of value from knowing I was meeting these (fictitious and real) standards. I tried to tell myself, “It doesn’t matter what others think about me. It only matters what I think about me”. Yet, I was still bombarded by this irrational anxiety.
My skin was so unhappy.
I experienced regular and inexplicable rashes on my face and neck. I also suffered from adult acne. I was so baffled by these flare ups. I would anxiously exclaim to myself, “Oh no! What do I need to do to get healthy glowing skin?!” I’ve always struggled with conflating my appearance with my value. I spent so much effort trying to fix the symptoms, but refused to pay attention to what the root cause may be.
Did I just eat the entire box?
Anxiety caused me to eat way too much! Whenever I went through a particularly anxious phase, I noticed a stark increase in cravings for all that is sugary, salty, and fatty in this world. I stuffed my face to calm my nerves. I’ve learned that chocolate is a sweet daydream that dulls your immediate reality, but then fades away really fast. You soon find yourself in the condition you were in before and in need of another “fix”.
It’s so hard to fall asleep.
Do you lie awake at night overthinking conversations and scenarios, or pondering “better” responses? I constantly overthought things I’ve said to someone that may have come across wrong. Then, I wondered if they believed I was a bad person due to something I said. I have also laid awake at night stressing about the tasks I really needed to complete the next day with the highest level of efficacy. Once again, I hoped to exceed the expectations (and sometimes imaginary standards) of others.
It took me some time, quite a few years actually, before I could finally admit to myself that I was suffering from anxiety. I then realized how the anxiety I suffered was connected to other hidden issues. It’s probably best to unravel that story for another day.
Being able to confront my struggle has significantly reduced its intensity. Nevertheless, it is still a daily struggle. Once you discover what you are dealing with, you can finally stare it in the face and take it on! There are so many creative avenues for coping and conquering anxiety. This is where you find me today, optimistically taking on life with anxiety, one-step at a time.
Written by: Andrea Kisten