My “Stress” Was Actually High-Functioning Anxiety

“Anxiety is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.” ~Jodi Picoult

Many years ago, I worked in the technology sector in Austin, Texas, which is a big “tech town.” I was incredibly focused on building my career and earning a higher and higher salary.

I also have two daughters, who were in elementary school at the time. I’m divorced and am the primary care giver for them. Like so many divorced moms, I was doing a lot.

I would run through a mental list of daily to-dos from the time I woke up and continue to do so throughout the day. I didn’t want to forget anything. I was juggling home life, work life, and trying to have a personal life too.

Overwhelmed? You bet I was.

I frequently felt like I was rushing from one thing to the next, all day long. Rush to get the kids and myself out the door in the morning. Rush to work.

At work, I would be focused on getting everything done so I could be out the door in time to get home to make dinner and help with homework. I usually also had some sort of housework to do in the evening.

I rushed to get my daughters to bed on time and hoped I would have enough time for some “me time” so I could actually relax and have some quiet time before bed.

But, I’d already be thinking about the list of things I had to do the next day, and the cycle would start all over again.

What I thought I felt was stress. We all hear the phrase “I’m so stressed out,” particularly when we have a lot going on. That described me perfectly. I was constantly busy, so I was constantly stressed.

Or so I thought.

What I actually was suffering from was high-functioning anxiety.

High-functioning anxiety isn’t a specific type of anxiety, but rather a term that refers to anxiety where the individual is still highly functioning, with the anxiety “just below the surface.” 

Think of high-functioning anxiety as hidden anxiety, where others may not realize someone has anxiety at all.

Individuals with high-functioning anxiety are often very successful and tend to be high achievers. Their anxiety doesn’t prohibit them from accomplishments. In fact, their anxiety may be part of the reason they are successful.

Their anxiety drives them to do more in both their personal and professional life. To outsiders, they will appear put-together, competent, and often appear calm.

But on the inside, those with high-functioning anxiety spend a lot of time overthinking and ruminating. They are…

read more…