Ask Andi: I Feel Anxious A Lot

Dear Andi,

My friends all think of me as the sunniest, happiest, funniest person they know, and I try to be that way as often as I can. But often I find myself feeling incredibly anxious and I worry about everything. I don't know how to talk about it with my friends, what should I do?

Sincerely,

Secretly Anxious 

Dear Secretly Anxious,

It feels great to have a role of bringing happiness amongst a group of friends, but sometimes, it can be a lot to live up to.  We are all human, and humans have feelings—feelings that vary. It can be hard to tell others what we are thinking or feeling when they see us always being happy.  I do not know the level of anxiety you are experiencing, but you need to speak out regardless of your anxiety level.
 


Anxiety can be bad for your health

You are normal for worrying.  Everyone worries, even about the small things, to some extent.  The thing about anxiety is that it can seem so small or trivial when in reality it is a serious matter. Anxiety can greatly affect both your psychological and physical health.

College is a stressful time, and distress can lead to anxiety.  There are many things you can do to explore and address your anxiety but the most important thing is to talk to someone. (Towson Counseling Center offers students a certain number of free confidential visits per year; see the Counseling Center page). 

Telling someone how you feel can be difficult when you are not sure how they will react. You can rest assured that your friends, or any other reasonably minded person, will not think you are weird or different.  You can address the issue with them in different ways. You can either wait until you feel anxious and call one of your friends and ask to talk.  This way you can let them know your thoughts as they occur and they can listen and guide you.  However, I do not recommend waiting until you feel anxious because keeping things bottled up in detrimental to your wellbeing.

Give your best friend a call, or ask to hang out and de-stress. If you think this is something you want your whole group to know, ask them for Starbucks or grab a private table in Paws or the Den and tell them you need their support on an issue.  Simply tell them what is on your mind.  Let them know that you are aware of how happy you seem, but sometimes you aren’t feeling happy and you worry more than you should.  Tell them how your anxiety makes you feel, and what concerns you have with it.  They will want to know how they can help and you should tell them that they can do so by being there to listen.


If you are nervous about telling them, remind yourself to be reasonable.  Realize that everyone experiences stress, anxiety and or depression at some point in their lives; and more often, at multiple points in their lives.  If you’re a Jersey Shore fan, you know that Vinny did a courageous thing by speaking up about his anxiety.  Whether or not you believe your anxiety to be clinical, you should speak out too.  Vinny speaks out and has some information that could help you deal with your anxiety on his portion of the Half of Us website.
 If the J Shore cast could respect Vinny’s feelings, I’m sure your friends can respect yours!

Your friends won’t be able to cure your anxiety; anxiety cannot be cured, but it is something that can be managed.  Your friends will be able to help ease your anxiety.  Addressing the issue is half of the treatment.  Hiding your anxiety will only make you more anxious and is dangerous.  You have a support system in your friends, so utilize it.  You are awesome at cheering your friends up and making them laugh and smile with your personality, so let them do the same.

Xoxo Andi