I have lived with anxiety for so long that I don’t recollect what life was like without it. Maybe I was born with it. I worry about something I said or did days back, how others might perceive what I said, how they will react, what will happen in the future- you get the picture.
Nevertheless, I’m able to maintain a perfectly stoic face, so nobody has the tiniest clue about the thoughts racing through my mind. Many of you are probably nodding along. Turns out, I suffer from a secret form of anxiety known as high-functioning anxiety.
As I grew up and embraced my introverted personality, I began to wonder if anxiety is an inherent part of an introvert. Do all introverts have anxiety?
The answer is- No. Introversion and anxiety are not synonymous. An introvert is a person who prefers a calm and quiet environment and avoids highly stimulating scenarios. Anxiety, on the other hand, is a mental health condition where the sufferer experiences excessive worry, nervousness and fear. It can happen to introverts, ambiverts as well as extroverts.
However, we can’t overlook what statistics say- that introverts are more prone to anxiousness. Even research suggests that introverts are more vulnerable than extroverts to decreased mental well-being.
If you’re an introvert who has it all together outwardly, but secretly you worry too much and you’re driven by fear, then you will probably identify with something known as high-functioning anxiety. This type of anxiety is more subtle and doesn’t manifest as breathlessness, shaky hands or panic attacks, which are the usual signs shown by anxious people.
What Is High-functioning Anxiety?
As strange as it sounds, people living with high-functioning anxiety are propelled forward by their anxiousness, rather than it crippling them. Usually, these people are successful and high-achieving, excelling in their career and other activities, and have a calm and composed demeanor.
However, what they experience in their inner world is totally different. Beneath the perfect exterior of success, they are constantly fighting a churn of anxiety. To be more precise, the underlying anxiety is what drives them. The fear of failure and disappointing others is what pushes them to be successful in the first place.
Introverts living with high-functioning anxiety aren’t able to stop thinking and planning out everything to its tiniest detail. Their minds are always on high alert and they can’t ever let their guard down and just relax. Sounds relatable? Then you will surely relate to the signs of high-functioning anxiety listed below.
15 Signs Of High-functioning Anxiety
1. You like being prepared
You’re always ready to tackle the worst-case scenario. For example, maybe your luggage was misplaced once and now you carry double sets of essential items, like undergarments and toiletries, in your check-in as well as hand language. Just in case.
People see you as the reliable person of the group; your preparedness comes to their rescue. But little do they know that this behavior is rooted in anxiety.
2. You have a stoic demeanor
Wait, what? Aren’t anxious people supposed to sweat profusely, have shaking hands and be a bundle of nerves?
Not the ones who have this secret type of anxiety known as high-functioning anxiety. These people have perfected the art of holding a calm and stoic demeanor in public by suppressing and compartmentalizing their feelings. They might have a storm of anxiety raging inside that you will know nothing about.
3. You view the world differently
According to research carried on by scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, people with anxiety fundamentally perceive the world differently. They over-generalize emotional experiences. Hence, they can’t differentiate between a new and safe stimulus and an earlier one that made them feel threatened. The feelings of danger remain embedded in their minds even after the experience is over.
4. You always need to keep busy
High-functioning anxiety doesn’t cripple a person, on the contrary, it propels the person to be busy with something all the time. Otherwise, all the anxious thoughts will creep in.
This can be especially troubling for introverts who need a considerate amount of downtime to unwind and recharge. They can, in no way, be present in social events regularly. Hence, they keep their minds engaged with work, hobbies, errands, just about anything that distracts them from their thoughts. It gives them a sense of control and makes them feel that they are at the top of things.