We hear the word anxiety used a lot today… stress and anxiety are both concepts which are a definite product of our place in time. Life is fast, it’s hard to keep up and spin all the plates simultaneously. So, when you see someone who IS spinning all the plates, and spinning them whilst looking like a million dollars with not a hair out of place, could they actually be crippled with high-functioning anxiety?
Hear me out.
When we think of anxiety we perhaps imagine someone hyperventilating, shaking or in the midst of a panic attack but there are different shades of this condition.
People who suffer from high-functioning anxiety must have everything perfect – all the time. To the outside world this person looks extremely ‘together’ with everything on time and in the right place. She never misses an appointment or a date and is the one who is always bang on time for everything, carrying exactly what she needs for the activity in question. She will even have a spare for you if you have forgotten.
The reality however, can be a stark contrast. If this person is suffering from HFA, chances are they are running – fast – on a treadmill with no stop button. Absolutely terrified to slow down the pace or take a break in case the whole house of cards comes crashing down around them. They have gained such an impressive momentum in their lives that they have no idea how to ease off even slightly. This could come with night terrors, insomnia, crippling fear, paranoia, panic attacks and many other nasty feelings.
This person is likely to critiscise everything she does and feel judgemental of others so clearly failing to keep up, even though she doesn’t want to feel like that at all. This person is likely to feel isolated in her own standards and berate herself relentlessly for sending the wrong text to the wrong person or wearing an outfit that is ever so slightly out of place for the occasion, unable to let go of the tiniest failings and unable to break free from their own misery-making.
Obviously there are some people who actually are achieving amazing things every day and aren’t suffering like this but as the generations ramp up the success expectations I fear these conditions are becoming more common…
HOW TO SPOT IT
Think of your immediate friendship group – is there one of you who moves at the speed of light and never seems to drop the ball? Is she also the one who rarely has any issues in her life you need to help her out with? Chances are that’s because she hides her problems until they are passed and even then may only ever refer to them after they are long done and dusted…problems, until they are fixed, are seen as failures by someone trapped in this cycle. Maybe you are recognising yourself here? In which case, I hear you sister.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
It’s a tough one. Help can only really come when the person themselves realises there is another way of living this life and that actually failing every now and again is perfectly acceptable, if not extremely healthy. They need to somehow see that it is absolutely okay to say “I can’t today” and not get through their to-do list. Their lives will not fall apart if they don’t do everything in the same way every single day. As soon as a person becomes aware how toxic their mindset is they can then start to chip away at the cage piece by piece but more often than not this does involve a bit of a breakdown as all the old habits die off and new ones are made. If they can be made to see the positive end to this exercise, they may just take the first steps to a happier world.
As always, sharing our own worries, fears and ‘failings’ and becoming more and more open about mental health issues in general will definitely help. Our next generation will suffer if we do not try to reverse some of the suffocating standards we have placed on society.
It’s simply unrealistic to have ‘it all’, something always has to give…
We must stop forgetting to put our own mental health and ‘needs’ on our To-Do list. May is Mental health Awareness Month and we can do all our bit ladies, don’t forget to pass it on..
For more on Mental Health Month click here