50 Problems Only People With Anxiety Understand

50 Problems Only People With Anxiety Understand

Anxiety makes everyday tasks difficult — but never assume you are alone in your struggles. These people from Ask Reddit know exactly how you feel.

1. It’s going to a new store/restaurant/attraction that I haven’t been before and worrying about messing something up – going in the wrong entrance, not knowing where to pay, not being able to ask questions, ordering something wrong. It’s usually fine if I go with someone else and I can watch what they do before it’s my turn, but if I need to go alone is a very long process and very uncomfortable.

2. Making a phone call. I have to write down a general outline of everything I have to say, and even then I procrastinate until the absolute final moment. I’m not likely to make a doctor’s appointment unless I’m seriously concerned that I’m dying. And if the phone rings my heart rate immediately speeds up, even though most the time it’s just my mom.

3. Meeting someone somewhere. What if I get there too early? Too late? Don’t see them? It’s bad enough when I’m meeting people I know; it’s even worse with people I don’t.

4. Calling for food delivery.

I will often settle for something I don’t particularly want simply because I can order it online.

5. It takes me a really long time to write simple emails and text messages. I want nothing to be left to question and be very specific without sounding like an anal psycho.

6. Last-minute changes to plans. I get comfortable with things by mentally preparing for them. Asking me to make a last-minute trip out of town upends my whole emotional house of cards. I’m getting better at it and I try to keep saying yes and pushing myself to recognize that it’s not a threat, but it takes a real effort to be cheerful about it.

7. Honestly if anyone sounds even remotely like they’re upset/angry with me I shut down immediately and won’t really say anything to anyone until I’m certain that person isn’t mad at me anymore/wasn’t at all to begin with. I don’t want to try to apologize because my anxiety makes me very anti-conflict, and typically in my experiences growing up when someone’s mad it’s just better to let them be mad for a little bit than trying to apologize and annoying them by talking to them while they’re heated.

8. Parking, especially when I’ve never been to a place before. It makes it 1000x worse when there is limited parking or if I have to parallel park. And then entering a place I’ve never been. I distinctly remember panicking from trying to find a parking spot and then tearing up when I tried to build up my courage to walk up to a bar to meet a friend even though he was meeting me outside.

9. I find I avoid things with lots of people. So saying no to a fair, sports game, concert, busy restaurant or bar, things like that make people think you rather not do fun things rather then I’m just uncomfortable in those surroundings.

10. I have a hard time doing anything when people are watching me or when I think people are watching me. I become extremely flustered and self-conscious, worrying that they’re judging me on everything I’m doing, even though logically, I’m doing nothing wrong, and they’re probably not even judging me in the first place. Anxiety sucks.

11. Making friends. I seriously do not have a person that I could call my best friend. I’m an introvert, and probably socially awkward too. I would rather read a book or watch the birds outside than make friends. I’m pretty lonely.

12. Making simple decisions. People (mostly my husband or friends) ask what I want to do, what I want to eat, where do I want to go and I hate making the decision because I’m scared it wouldn’t be something they would enjoy. I have been told many times that my opinion is at least important to take into a count, but I still stutter over my words or hesitate when trying to make those kind of decisions.

13. Texting people. Are they busy? Are they upset? Is this a bad time to text? I don’t fucking know!! I’ll do it tomorrow!!

14. Striking up or joining in on a conversation, even with people I know well enough that we could just chat for hours and enjoy it. It’s starting the conversation that can be difficult.

15. Being irritable. I never knew for a long time that irritability was a symptom of anxiety, but it makes sense for me. My parents always thought I was just an irritated teenager, particularly when they asked about my day after school or would come to my room to say something, but now I’m in my 20s and it’s still the same with family, friends, or acquaintances. I think it’s probably because my mind is always racing and thinking of everything at once because of anxiety that when I get interrupted, even if I’m not actually doing anything (but especially when I am), then I will instinctually snap at people without even noticing or meaning to. Or if I’ve been around people all day and exerting a lot of energy while feeling anxious around them then I don’t want to answer questions or talk to anyone and the same thing happens. It makes sense but it only occurred to me recently, and it seems minor but it’s something I have to actively work on noticing and combatting.

16. Small talk with my hair stylist. The salon is pretty busy whenever I go and the other stylists are casually chatting away with their clients. I’m not the most talkative person and normally I’m ok with silence, but seeing everyone else talking makes me feel pressured to keep a conversation afloat with my stylist.

17. Being spontaneous. If someone wants to make plans with me they have to ask at least the day before. I need a certain amount of time to recharge my batteries and mentally prepare to do something, especially if it involves traveling or being around people. It’s exhausting, and I wish I could suddenly decide to do something exciting, but I can’t. The very thought makes me want to curl into a ball and hide away forever. And those feelings never stop. Always wanted a life of travel and adventures when I was younger, and now I’m afraid that will never happen. It’s like being trapped inside your own fear, and friends and family who don’t get this starts to think you don’t like them or that you’re boring and lazy. I’ve lost a lot of friends because of fear. Hope this will pass someday.

18. Leaving the house to do anything. “Did I leave the stove on? Wait, I never even turned on the stove today. But what if I did turn it on accidentally? What if I left the space heater on? What if the pets are out of water? I wont be able to refill their bowls until I got back. Did I grab my wallet? My keys? My phone? I double checked already, but maybe I should check again, just in case.” etcetcetc. I have to force shove these thoughts out of my head. I will think stuff like this on repeat, even if Im just going for a five minute walk.

19. I can’t go to a restaurant without looking up the menu first online so I can plan what I’ll be getting and rehearse it in my head. Once I choose something, every time I go to the restaurant, I will always get the same thing no matter what. I don’t like doing anything on the fly, I like consistent schedules and planning things out. Doing anything spontaneously is extremely difficult for me, to the point that I physically have a hard time doing it. Like my body and brain are screaming.

20. Leaving the house. It’s really ridiculous how many things I can become anxious over when I leave my house, but lo and behold, my mind is great at creating scenarios.

21. Doing something without seeing someone else do it first. Like ordering at a new restaurant, or doing a group activity, or taking communion at a new church. If I don’t see someone else do it first, I’m positive I’ll mess it up and embarrass myself.

22. The most difficult thing for other people to understand is when the anxiety just happens. Like no real reason. Just physical symptoms. Its like when the boss music comes on but the boss never shows up.

23. I have social anxiety so it’s really difficult for me to say hi to people. Unless it’s like my mom or one of my close friends, I get so stressed out about the implications if I say “hi” or “hello” or address someone by name. I usually just end up looking away. I don’t mean to be rude or mean it just makes me so stressed.

24. Sometimes I will replay things I’ve said in my head all day in the exact same way I said it. Like it’s an audio file on repeat, and then sometimes when I’m alone catch myself actually acting it out the same way I did when I said it the first time. I guess I get anxious that maybe I sounded weird or looked weird when I said it so I just constantly review it in my head.

25. If someone knocks/rings the doorbell when I’m not expecting visitors the adrenaline kicks in and I expect the worst.

26. For me, literally everything.

Walking? Oh jeez, I hope I’m not walking weird.

A person is nearby? Oh fuck, they’re probably judging me for something! Are my clothes actually appropriate? Do I have a stain somewhere? Do I look crazy?

Someone walks in the hallway outside my office? Well, fuck here’s my boss, coming to fire me.

Everything something happens or every time I do something my mind imagines the worse possible outcome. It’s even started to happen in my dreams and daydreams, so there’s really no escape. I know, without a doubt, that it’s just my mind fucking with me, but that doesn’t change how it feels and it doesn’t make it go away. Because what if, right?

27. Having to answer on the spot questions incase you get them wrong.

28. Participating in class. I always have things I would like to add to the conversation but thinking about raising my hand, getting called on, everyone else is quiet waiting for you to say what you are going to say… because of this I rarely ever participate in class. I either have to start the semester off by doing it all the time when there are new people around me or I can’t do it for the rest of the year because I’m the ‘quiet’ girl and if I were to speak it would be weird and out of the ordinary. Also if I do summon the courage to actually raise my hand or speak up, I turn beat red because the spotlight is on me which then makes me very embarrassed causing me to try and hide my face and when I do that people can tell that I’m red because I’m drawing more attention to it by trying to hide it. It’s so exhausting

29. Ending conversations. Every time I enter into a conversation I’m 100% building myself up for the aftermath when the person has to go and I start blaming myself.

30. When I have to go somewhere new, especially when it’s pretty far and I need to take the bus or the train. I check the stops multiple times before leaving my house and I do it other multiple times even when I’m on the go. It just drives me crazy because even if i know I’m on the right way I’m still afraid to get lost or something.

31. Driving. I’ve explained to my wife that I struggle with anxiety while driving. You ever miss a turn, and drive 20 miles the wrong fucking way just because you’re too nervous to turn around? If I need to make a turn, I need advanced notice of exactly which turn it is or I’ll freak out and miss it.

32. Making mistakes. It feels like my whole world is collapsing and I’ll never do anything right. I know all the sayings about “you need to fail to succeed,” but it’s very hard for me to feel okay after making a mistake.

33. Having serious romantic relationships. I’m always catastrophizing little details of my SOs behavior or word choice. Looking for problems where there aren’t any. Mistrusting him for absolutely no reason except that I’ve created a narrative in my mind that makes more sense to me than him genuinely liking me for who I am and choosing to be with me instead of other people.

34. People touching me, you may think it’s no big deal, but seriously fucking stop it, or that hand is going down your throat.

35. I can’t pee in public. Anytime I’m in a public bathroom and if there’s anyone else there too, I have to go to a stall and sit down to pee just because there’s other people. Totally alone and I’m fine.

36. Checking emails, checking voicemails, me checking the mail. Makes me all tight in the chest and sweaty.

37. I forget how to walk when I’m really anxious. Sometimes I feel like I can’t move. I twitch a lot. Just generally kind of lose control of my body. It’s fucking annoying and I always feel like everyone can tell. Which makes me even more anxious, obviously.

38. Approaching a 4-way stop sign – I genuinely worry that at least one person is going to mess up the correct traffic flow during my turn.

39. Getting compliments or praise can actually be bad for you. When the spotlight is on you and everyone is looking at you, it makes you more nervous, and then you get nervous about being nervous, which makes you more nervous.

40. Making/preparing food when someone else is in the kitchen is the worst thing imaginable. Especially if they comment on what food you have.

“Doughnuts and cookies huh?”

Welp… Time to end my life.

41. That you know how difficult you’re making things for other people, but you can’t do anything about it but get more stressed out and inconvenient.

42. Getting off the bus, especially if it’s crowded, and omg if the driver doesn’t open the back door and I have to yell! It’s a nightmare.

43. Doing ‘fun things’. Going to the cinema or out for dinner etc are terrifying for me. Most people’s ideas of a fun activity are my worst nightmare. It’s such a struggle to actually get out of the house and challenging myself is constantly exhausting. It sucks having to turn down plans with friends.

44. Eating food among other people, I become too self conscious, and sometimes end up working for longer making excuses and will eat only once everyone clears out the cafeteria.

45. For me, it’s getting going in the morning. I have to deal with dizziness, a racing heart, and oftentimes, an upset stomach.

Sucks having chronic anxiety.

46. Anxiety at night is horrifying. Laying in bed trying to unwind to go to sleep and BAM a thought enters your mind that you can’t make go away. Maybe you said something stupid three years ago. Maybe you start doubting if you’ve set your alarm. Maybe it’s some assignment you haven’t started yet. Maybe it’s something you have to do tomorrow or the next day.

And then you finally get to sleep, only you’re not resting. Because the anxiety follows you into your dreams. You can feel your heart pounding through the sleep paralysis. You dream about the things stressing you out, or maybe about random embarrassing situations. Or difficult situations. You don’t sleep well. Again.

You wake up unrested and unwell. You have to start your day or someone will be mad at you, or you’ll fail somehow, or you’ll get fired. You push through, hoping tonight will be different.

47. I want to go to the gym, but there are people there. Fuck.

48. The absolute worst is the sweating. When I get anxious I start sweating, and get really aware and self conscious about it. And the more I think about my sweating, the more I get anxious and sweat. So bad I would be dripping of sweat and have huge sweat patches on my shirt under my arm pits, down my back and under my breasts. I’ve had some weird looks, even people thinking I’m on drugs as I look so nervous and sweating so much. It’s just awful! Sometimes it happens after an embarrassing or awkward moment, other times just for no reason at all. It’s exhausting.

49. Receiving a phone call from a number I don’t know. My mind is always telling me that it’s something bad; I’m getting fired from work, my doctor has bad news for me, a family member has died, etc.

50. Going to the grocery store when it’s crowded. For some people, there’s an element of overwhelming sounds, lights, etc. It can also be hard to keep your temper when you’re anxious and agitated. I’ve almost screamed at strangers because they parked their cart in the middle of an aisle or I’m stuck behind somebody who’s moving at a glacial pace. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

January Nelson is a writer, editor, and dreamer. She writes about astrology, games, love, relationships, and entertainment. January graduated with an English and Literature degree from Columbia University.