When I was first learning about what was happening with my anxiety, one of the most helpful things was to hear what other people were feeling/thinking/experiencing. Being able to recognize my own symptoms in what others was saying was so reassuring. No, I wasn’t crazy; other people knew what I was going through!
I thought I’d go through a few of the most common symptoms of anxiety and share with you how they manifested in me, in hopes that you will recognize something and be able to progress in your own healing journey.
Please keep in mind that none of us are qualified medical professionals, I am simply sharing what I have experienced. If you feel like you need help, or may have some kind of mental health condition, please see qualified medical personnel.
*Worry. This one is a big one for me. I worry about everything – what to make for dinner, doing the laundry, money, am I a good friend (followed by it doesn’t matter because I don’t have any friends, which was a lie my brain was telling me), am I good enough at ______ (fill in the blank with literally anything). . . My biggest worry has always been my kids. Are they safe? Did I pray for them enough? Will they eat their lunch? What if they get cold? Who are their friends? Are they good influences? Am I a terrible mom? These went on and on.
*Unusually fatigued. I wanted to nap all the time. Some naps are normal for a mom with young kids, but I really would have been happy to just sleep all the time.
*Trouble concentrating/focusing on a task. A great example of this one for me was the process of making dinner. A meal I’ve made many times would be hard to make. I’d do one step, then have to stop and think about what was next. I’d go to the refrigerator to get something, and halfway there I’d forget where I was going, what I needed to get, and what I was even doing. It was like trying to think through fog all the time. I would have to mentally go back to the beginning of the process of making the meal, and talk to myself out loud step-by-step, until I got to where I was at in the process so I could do the next step. It was like this several times a week.
*Feeling restless or on edge. I always felt like anything someone said was a personal attack on me. Especially stuff about my house. I know there’s laundry to fold, and I haven’t done it yet because. . . Or the dishes haven’t been washed because. . . or we’re having cereal for dinner again because. . . I always felt like I had to defend myself, and would get angry when my self-perceived flaws were pointed out by other people.
*Headaches or muscle aches/tension. This was a big one for me. My jaw muscles were always super tight. I don’t think I was actually grinding my teeth, but I could tell exactly how anxious I was by how much tension/pain I had in my jaw.
Do any of these symptoms sound familiar to you? Maybe some of them could have been written by you? Everyone experiences anxiety in their own way, but through talking with others and understanding their experiences, we can figure out what’s happening to ourselves. Knowledge is power! Recognizing what’s going on is a big step towards healing.