The world is spinning 100 miles per hour. You feel like you can’t breathe. Your chest hurts. It’s hard to concentrate because your mind is so foggy. Anxiety is crippling. There are plenty of conversations about what anxiety keeps you from functioning. However, there aren’t enough conversations around how anxiety keeps you functioning…like forever. High functioning anxiety pushes the illusion that someone has it all together when it is the opposite. Here are four things that high functioning anxiety does:
1. High functioning anxiety pushes you to the limit. You work around the clock. This may look like staying up all night to learn every detail to pass the test. You work long hours on a project until it is perfect. You accomplish every task on your to-do list. You may procrastinate, but it’s because when you start something, you hate it. It is not until the very last minute that your anxiety motivates you to get it done and not in the best way. High functioning anxiety keeps you painfully productive.
2. High functioning anxiety rewards you. Because of how much attention and work goes into a project, you get rewarded for it. This may be an A on a test you studied all night for. You get reinforced for every reward.
3. High functioning anxiety clouds who you are. You are motivated to achieve because of your anxiety. A lot of thoughts cloud your brain. I am not smart. I am not good at this. This is never going to work out.
4. High functioning anxiety impacts how people see you. Because of all the productivity, people see what you do as an accomplishment. You don’t look anxious. But you have it all together. Because of how high functioning anxiety works, people don’t think you are anxious. They may come to you for advice. When people don’t think you need help, you don’t think you need help… although you want help.
Anxiety looks different for every person. Just because a person can function does not mean that they don’t experience anxiety. Sometimes, anxiety can drive us to be productive, but in a really messed up way.