High Functioning Anxiety

High Functioning Anxiety. Who knew such a thing existed? I certainly didn’t, until curious about my own anxiety, I decided to investigate the subject further. I was tired of the relentless feeling of angst, that had become part of my daily life and wanted to know how to rid myself of it. I began reading articles and books on the subject and was astounded by what I learned.

High Functioning Anxiety. I was stunned, because it described perfectly how I felt.

“People with highfunctioning anxiety are often able to accomplish tasks and appear to function well in social situations, but internally they are feeling all the same symptoms of anxiety disorder, including intense feelings of impending doom, fear, anxiety, rapid heart rate, and gastrointestinal distress.’

Until then I thought myself a compulsive worrier and put the regular churning in my stomach down to that. When I discovering HFA, I felt a huge sense of relief and although not officially a medical term, the general consensus is that it should be. Unlike Generalised Anxiety Disorder, (GAD) which can leave a person absolutely frozen and unable to move forward in their life, high functioning people just keep going, feeling like they have no other choice in life.

On the outside everything looks great, but the inner turmoil is devastating. People with HFA usually overthink a lot of what they say and do. They jump to the worst possible conclusion when faced with uncertainty. They can be very talkative to deflect from the insecurity they feel and they say sorry a lot. Usually starting a statement with ‘sorry if.’ ‘Sorry if’ you don’t like this restaurant, ‘sorry if’ I’m chasing you for that email, ‘sorry if’ I’m annoying you.

Restlessness and being over the top happy about everything in life are also common traits of High Functioning Anxiety.

One article suggested that if you suffer from anxiety, you’re probably a control freak who is living life, solely focused on the future. A profound statement, that I discovered was in fact, the truth. Not a control freak in the tradition sense, but an emotional control freak.

An emotional control freak? What is that? Emotional control is usually the reason why most suffer so badly with anxiety. We try to control the uncontrollable, to manipulating life into going according to our plan. Of course life never goes according to plan, so when unforeseen eventualities occur, and life goes off plan, our anxiety increases.

Finally understanding this allowed me to learn one of the hardest and most important lessons of my life and it was this…


If life doesn’t happen how I think it should, let it go. If people don’t like me, let it go. If my relationship is over, let it go. If I don’t get the job, let it go. If my family and friends are living in a way I don’t approve of, let it go. If my ex husband is annoying me, let it go.

Letting go transmutes anxiety into inner peace.

Resisting anxiety strengthens it, like a monster feeding on fear, it grows. Allowing it to be, decreases it’s power and although it takes practice, a walk in the woods, listening to relaxing music, a yoga class and meditation are some of the ways to surrender to it, process it and release it.

A powerful friend and ally to anxiety is alcohol. The withdrawal of alcohol from our body makes an anxiety attack much more likely and ten times worse. Those with anxiety should consider reducing or eliminating alcohol from their lives. Becoming alcohol free and learning to let go, reduced my anxiety by 100%. Thirty years of suffering and now it’s gone. How I wish I’d discovered these things many years ago.

Remembering that like all emotions, anxiety is temporary is also a a great way of making peace with it.






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