I recently read this article in Mighty.com and it was as though a giant lightbulb went on for the first time in my life. Understand exactly what high functioning anxiety (HFA) was – nervousness, perfectionism, nail biting, insomnia – helped me understand myself so much better than I have before. Couple that with the fact that I’m an introvert who needs LOTS of down time in order to recharge from a crazy day and you’ll usually find me in a huddled mess in the corner. Well, not really, but that’s how I feel at the end of some days.
That’s because my anxiety makes me feel crazy….but I’m not. After reading that article, I finally felt normal (whatever that means) but also reflected on my own anxiety.
For me, HFA = voices. Voices constantly telling me I’m not good enough, I’m stupid, I messed up, I forgot something really big.
HFA = insomnia. Having strange dreams about letting people down; jolting upright in the middle of the night thinking I left the milk out, or forgot to feed the dog.
HFA = overachievement. I have a masters degree, I worked at both Nestle and IBM before I was 30, am a certified dog trainer, I founded two companies, I volunteer regularly at my son’s school, I am heading a task force to make our streets safer, I’ve written two books…oh and I still make dinners at night, do all the laundry in the house (and put it away), mow the lawn, vacuum every week. The list goes on and on…
HFA = nervousness. Nail biting, constant fidgeting, oftentimes I forget what I’m going to say because I’m so afraid of messing up in the first place.
HFA = a lack of confidence. The Imposter Syndrome is a big factor in my life, and even though I’ve had people tell me I come across as confident, it’s the one thing I struggle with the most.
HFA = anger. Anger at myself, anger at my kids, anger at my spouse, anger at the world. But most of all anger at my anxiety, which I’ve always felt has held me back.
HFA is also…
…seeing different possibilities
…getting EVERYTHING done
…living out dreams
…traveling all over the country and world
…doing things I NEVER thought I could ever possibly do
…pushing myself to live out my dreams
…achieving goals and actually looking back thinking “was that really me? Did I really do that?!”
My anxiety is something I’ve had to deal with my whole life, but it’s also something who has shaped me into who I am. I’m glad I finally have a better understanding of what that means and how that affects my life.