The Negative Voices of an Anxiety Disorder

These five self-care steps can lower anxiety.

Posted Sep 25, 2018

This is the negative self-talk someone with an anxiety disorder may hear:

I don’t know why I worry so much. I don’t want. Seriously, I don’t.

But negative thoughts jab at me and invade my head. Fears and anxieties that may sound ridiculous to you, torture me daily.

For example, I’m afraid that everyone secretly hates me. I find evidence everywhere. Friends don’t return my messages or take days to get back to me. Even when we make plans, they cancel last minute or stand me up.

I stalk them on social media. I shouldn’t do it, but I can’t help it. I look at their photos and say to myself, “Look how much fun they’re having without me.”

I know what you’re thinking: practice meditation, take a yoga class. Blah, blah, blah. Heard it all before. If only it were that easy!

Most days, I don’t want to leave the house. The one time I took a class I kept imagining people looking at me and thinking “Why are you here?” In my head, I could hear them snicker as I left the room.

Believe it or not, I can fake it at work. No one knows how I struggle. I keep to myself or make small talk. If they only knew!

At night, I rush home, crawl into bed and binge watch movies or stupid videos. I eat unhealthy food or drink too much. Anything to distract me from how nervousness I feel inside.

Eventually I try to sleep -- that’s when the bad memories come. Old disappointments or criticisms flood my head. Hurtful words become fresh wounds, reopened by my despair.

Next self-criticism kicks in.

“You’re such an idiot!”

“What’s wrong with you!”

“Why can’t you be normal?”

I wake up tired, ignore the dirty clothes and dishes, and wait until the last moment to leave. I’m late so often, I wonder if deep down I want to be fired.

At times, fear grips me. My stomach tightens. I get a headache or have a panic attack. I can’t breath, my heart races, I feel like I’m going to pass out or disappear.

That’s what worries me the most. That I will disappear and no one will care. 

I think about hurting myself. When I am using a knife in my kitchen. When I am crossing a busy intersection or standing near an open window on a high floor, my heart raises. Sometimes I hear a voice say, “Get it over with. Jump.”

Sometimes I wish I could.

Don’t get me wrong -- I want help. Seriously, I do. I wish someone could rescue me from myself, make the negative voices go away.

I make so many resolutions. But this time I really want to stick to them. Here are my top five.

1. Get off social media

I’ll will delete the apps from my phone, close my accounts. Maybe call a social media addiction hotline.

2. Join a therapy group

I need to find people like me. I need to know I’m not alone. Maybe we can help each other. (See "Why Group is More Effective Than Individual Therapy")

3. Find a therapist

Self-help books aren’t enough. I need professional help.

4. Exercise

Staying cooped up in my house only makes me worse. I feel so disconnected from my body. I can start with long walks and work my way up to jogging. (See "Where You Store Stress in Your Body.")

5. Talk to my doctor

I hate the idea of medication, but if it can lower my anxiety, even just a little, it’s worth it. Maybe I’l have more energy to start doing things I enjoy.

I guess, I’m not giving up on myself. Maybe underneath all this anxiety is a healthy person. A person who isn’t afraid of taking chances. A person who has hope.

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