Inside The Mind Of Someone With Anxiety Disorder (And Other Tips)

Basically, inside my mind. Being someone with anxiety disorder makes it hard for others to understand what really goes on in my mind because everyone has anxiety, but some have anxiety disorder. I found this list a long way back and had it saved as a note in my phone, waiting for someone that I got close enough to share with. Disappointingly, I couldn’t find anyone to share this with, so here it is. I did not write this, but I did find it humorous and maybe you can help someone in need.

A disclaimer about opinion.




Things we are trying to do all the time:

  • Be safe
  • Not worry
  • Worry if we’re really worried or if our mind is playing tricks on us
  • Worry that we should be worried but are trying to “be calm”
  • Worry that others are going to notice this worry loop in our heads
  • Wash, rinse, repeat and add more worries

Things we can’t help but do all the time:

  • Second-guess ourselves
  • Behave impulsively and re-actively
  • Take everything personally
  • Worry
  • Have difficulty accepting compliments
  • Have difficulty reciprocating friendly gestures
  • Worry
  • Have difficulty finding the courage to respond
  • Have difficulty not being suspicious of others’ intentions
  • Worry
  • Make a huge deal out of the smallest thing
  • Think we’re bothering you

Things you should keep in mind:

  • We’re scared of everything
  • Pretty much all of the time
  • It’s an actual disorder
  • It manifests as impulsive behaviour
  • You can’t fix us with words
  • Telling us “worrying is silly” won’t make us stop worrying*
  • It’ll only make us feel silly
  • And then we’ll worry even more
  • “Oh god, am I worrying too much? what if they call me silly again?”
  • Like that
  • Also, we wear a lot of armour – cold, heavy, affection-proof armour- with spikes
  • We constructed this armour as children
  • We’re fairly certain you will never be able to pry it apart
  • But there is a nice person under there, we promise


Things you can do for a friend with an anxiety disorder:

  • Stick around
  • Ask them if they’re comfortable in a place or situation
  • Be willing to change the place or situation if not
  • Activities that help them take their mind off of things are good!
  • Talk to them even when they might not talk back (they’re probably too afraid to say the wrong thing)
  • Try not to take their reactions (or lack thereof) personally (the way they express themselves is distorted and bent because of their constant fear) (and they know this)
  • Give them time to respond to you
  • They will obsess over how they are being interpreted
  • They will anticipate being judged
  • It took me four hours just to type this much
  • Even though I sound casual
  • That’s because I have an anxiety disorder

Things you shouldn’t do:

  • Tell us not to worry
  • Tell us we’ll be fine
  • Mistake praise for comfort
  • Ask us if we are “getting help”
  • Force us to be social
  • Force us to do things that trigger us
  • “Face your fears” doesn’t always work
  • Because—remember—scared of everything
  • In fact, it would be more accurate to say we are scared of the fear itself

Emergency action procedure for panic attacks:

  • Be calm
  • Be patient
  • Don’t be condescending
  • Remind us that we’re not “crazy”
  • Sit with us
  • Ask us to tighten and relax our muscles one by one
  • Remind us that we are breathing
  • Engage us in a discussion (if we can talk, then we can breathe)
  • If we are having trouble breathing, try getting us to exhale slowly
  • (it will be harder for us to exhale than inhale)
  • (sometimes all it takes is our body to realize it can push the air back out)
  • Or breathe through our nose
  • Or have us put our hands on our stomach to feel each breath
  • Or have us put a hand on your chest and breath with you
  • Ask us what needs to change in our environment in order for us to feel safe
  • Help us change it

One thought on “Inside The Mind Of Someone With Anxiety Disorder (And Other Tips)”

  1. This is SO me. I am very grateful I read this. I understand why others don’t understand. My mind and body wil not be still. My psychiatrist put me on a medication yesterday when she diagnosed me with anxiety. It was too high of a dose, now I’m all wound up about that!!! An understanding friend is coming over to sit with me. That relieves some of the stuff.

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