Signs of anxiety don’t just come in the nervous heart racing category. Sometimes these signs are strange and embarrassing. So, let’s be kind and understanding.
During the 4 decades of my life, I have learned so much about my own illnesses, one being an anxiety disorder. I have seen the signs of anxiety in dysfunctional fights, I have noticed the little quirks when changes were happening, and I have seen the signs of anxiety in those I would soon lose to suicide.
I must admit, the signs wafted by and I never even realized they were screams for help. Depression can be a monster, but what of the warnings of anxiety?
Words and actions tell the truth without admission
You can tell someone that you are anxious and the message will be clear. If you shake, most people will understand you are nervous and need a little comfort. But there are signs that aren’t as obvious and they sometimes seem disgusting. These are the signs that slip under the radar and cause other forms of damage both physically and mentally. Pay attention.
Many people who suffer from anxiety have similar habits to those who suffer from depression. Like depression, sufferers of anxiety have a hard time keeping up with their hygiene. Now, before you become judgmental, try and understand the thought process of anxiety and depression. One of the last things on the mind of the anxiety patient is to wash their hair, take a shower or a bath.
Those with anxiety don’t always neglect their hygiene. It’s usually during the worse days that this happens. Otherwise, they are just as conscious about their health as the next person. To be honest, some of the standards set by society are a bit unrealistic in the first place. Yes, I said it.
Dermatillomania or Excoriation
You know, I never knew there was a name for it until now. Skin picking disorder starts as a symptom of anxiety or depression, but mostly anxiety. I suffer from this disorder as a result of my severe anxiety. Dermatillomania is worse than it may seem. It’s not just a disorder that causes scratching every now and then. It’s a disorder that causes such prolonged picking that sores develop which become inflamed and then infected in some cases.
After many years of going through this horrible self-inflicted torture, your skin may even start to itch when there’s nothing wrong with it. The itches will grow more and more severe causing you to scratch until the skin breaks yet again. Let me tell you, it takes a lot of willpower to resist the urge to scratch the phantom itch.
Then there’s the bitting off cuticles, keeping scabs opened, and the irresistible urge to remove dead skin. While this sounds pretty disgusting, it’s a horrible addictive problem worsened by anxiety triggering events and environments.
Some people, not my close friends mind you, think I’m the most sociable person they know, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. My actions seem contradictory and I will explain why. My anxiety doesn’t like new people and it hates crowds.
Then there are the times when anxiety lets me warm to certain people, maybe after I’ve gotten used to the new people a while, and I do mean quite a while. Then there is the nervous chatter which is a whole other ball game.
Nervous chatter is suddenly being able to jump into a discussion, either with one person, two, or a group of people you otherwise wouldn’t talk to. You talk fast and in many cases, offer strange information and tell too many personal things about yourself.
Inside, you are going haywire, desperately trying to keep the social façade and make everyone think you’re normal….but you’re not, and hey, that’s okay. Afterwards, you usually feel mortified and worry about what you said to them.
Talking to myself
Speaking of chatter, I talk to myself constantly. Over the years, I used to try and hide it or only do it when I was alone, but now I talk to myself everywhere. When I go jogging, I carry on conversations with myself about things I need to be doing. I even rehearse things that I want to say to others and I rehash what has already been said in hopes of understanding something better or picking out clues.
It’s a straight path to insanity, and I think I work out my mind about as much as I do my body.
This is one of the signs of anxiety that seems more common. Biting your nails, the insides of your cheeks, and your bottom lip is noticed in those who suffer from anxiety. The thing that makes it serious is the fact that this biting usually results in bleeding.
Those who are anxious never seem satisfied by any amount of biting and will not stop, many times, when pain is involved. It’s a determination and distraction at the same time. Those who suffer understand exactly what I mean by this.
Many people fidget. This means tapping the feet or fingers or any other repetitive action performed by a body part. Some people even bang their heads on the wall or the table as if they can release the anxious demons from their cages.
Sometimes these signs of anxiety can worsen to the point of being obsessive-compulsive disorders, which cause repetitive checking, tapping, flipping, and moving that serves some endless purpose.
I suffer from a combination of these. I have fidgets, some which keep me up at night, like scratching my pillow or sucking my thumb. I also have symptoms of OCD, in which I get caught in loops when checking appliances and light switches.
Once, I checked the switches on the stove over 10 times to make sure that everything was off. My son had to stop my pattern, remind me that it was just that irritating trick of the mind, and lead me off to another area of the home. Just thinking about it makes me feel a little anxious.
The nightmare is real
I have to stop right here because thinking of these things makes me want to act out in anxious ways. But wait! I want you to know that it’s okay if you experience these things occasionally, or a lot.
I will not judge you and no one else should do that either. I hope you feel a little better about yourself and know that you are not alone in your struggles.
Because you are definitely not alone in your celebrations of the good days! Take care of yourself.