Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover | The Paradox of High-Functioning Anxiety

August 23, 2020

< back to blog home

Written By : Aisha R. Shabazz, LCSW

I’ve heard many people describe anxiety like a swimming duck. Cool, calm, and collected above water and underneath the surface, their legs are moving at the speed of light.

The major difference between the swimming duck and someone with high-functioning anxiety is that the energy the duck uses to propel itself through the water is getting them somewhere. And the energy it takes you to hold it all together on the outside, while the inside is spiraling out of control is not productively getting you where you want to be.

Yes, you may have a full social calendar, but if you’re spending 3 hours deciding on what you’re going to wear, how much fun are you actually having.

Yes, you may have gained admission to the school of your dreams, but if you toss and turn every night, worrying that you are going to oversleep and miss the chance to arrive early so that you can sit in the same seat each week, how productive can you be with less sleep.

And yes, you are finally taking some time off from work and are counting down the days to your stellar stay-cation, but you can’t possibly think about the great time you’re going to have because you’re too busy counting down the days to how much time you don’t have to make sure that your workstation and hand-off tasks are perfect because you know that you can’t rely on your coverage to do the immaculate job that you do.

Sounds exhausting right? That’s because it is.

To be chill on the outside and completing swirling on the inside, is what someone with high-functioning anxiety is experiencing on a near daily basis.

You feel more like you’re drowning than swimming with ease and yet the façade of “everything is fine” is convincing enough to have no one recognize that you’re barely holding it together.

The good news is that no one has to live with the unrelenting burden of high-functioning anxiety for the rest of their lives. Keep in mind that the goal is not to eliminate anxiety, but rather reduce anxiety levels to a manageable and sustainable level that does not disrupt your life.

There are many tools and resources out there that can help people manage anxiety in a productive way and therapy is one of the many tools that I’ve seen help relieve the burden and impact of anxiety.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can help a loved one manage high-functioning anxiety, click here to sign up for my NEW GROUP.

Disclaimer: This mental health blog is for informational purposes and is intended to help destigmatize mental health. It is strongly discouraged to use the information contained in this blog in a coercive manner. This information is not intended to diagnose or serve as a substitute for treatment from a licensed mental health professional. 

designed by Elizabeth McCravy

brand photography by Alex and stock photography by unsplash &