Are you ashamed about your anxiety? - Anxiety Support

Anxiety Support

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Are you ashamed about your anxiety?


Hi everyone!

This week I have discovered I am ashamed about people finding out that I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder, and that creates more anxiety. If I go with an acquaintance for a coffee and I start getting symptoms (racing heart, palpitations ,dizziness) instead of controlling them I start thinking about the other person finding out, so I try to put myself together but I don't know if the other person notices something because I can't concentrate in the conversation so much and I try to say something to distract the other person so she doesn't notice my nervousness. I feel like that in many social situations.

I have always tried to hide my condition, and I think I worry that people are going to see it as a sign of weakness and they are not going to be very understanding towards it.

My siblings never understood and didn't show much compassion with my condition which I have suffered from a very young age. I they viewed it as a sign of weakness and failure, that is probably why I hide it from people in case I get the same reaction. Are you open about your anxiety? Do your friends know? How do they feel about it? Are they supportive or they dismiss your feelings? Thank you.

30 Replies

You're right, star68, I think a lot of us are very selective about who we tell about our GAD because we see it as a weakness or want to protect people from worrying about us. My parents went to their graves not knowing, my employers never knew, my neighbours don't know and it's only recently I've told one or two friends. And my GAD started in 1974. My wife knows of course and my daughters now they're grown up but only one of my three grandsons.

I know a problem shared is a problem halved but I think those of us who keep quiet about our GAD have an image of ourselves we want to maintain and it doesn't include "suffering from our nerves".

If I could go back in time I'd do the same thing.

Cat33 in reply to Jeff1943

Your story is just like mine Jeff and that was the year mine started too !

I can definitely relate to trying to mask the anxiety and its symptoms when you are in social settings or talking with others. I find myself majority of the time pretending to be interested in holding conversations with others for the sake of not wanting to show my true emotions. Its sad. Ive pretended to hold conversations and little do the other person/s know Im on auto pilot. Im there but im not there, if that makes sense. Im talking but Im not mentally all there. Faking a smile but inside Im filled with intense fear and feeling wierd, hoping not to pass out or whatever symptoms Im feeling. However I have shared my issues with others. Im not afraid to say what Im going through. But i still feel like people really dont understand or dont really care especially if they've never experince this. So thats the part that bothers me more when telling others.

Snap ! I can relate to all you have said

star68 in reply to Cat33

Yes, you are very right. The thing is people cannot understand our anxiety but in my case I seem to understand everyones problems and I will try very hard to help people and empathize with them, I really feel conected to people feelings, which has its negatives because you feel their pain as well, but in general I haven't encounter many people that empathize with my emotional pain, aside from the forums and my cousin :)

Cat33 in reply to star68

I'm exactly the same I always care about others and what they go through Don't you think though that because we suffer from anxiety we are caring people ? I see really confident do anything go anywhere people who have no empathy for anyone at all

Well I empathize fully with you and if you want to have chats I'd be very pleased to hear from you 😊

Hidden in reply to star68

Same here star ...x

Hidden in reply to Icanbeathis2016

Yes, same 😩 x

So I'm new to this group, have been reading posts on here for about a week now. Have never felt like posting before, but this has compelled me to do so.

I use to be very tight lipped about my "issues" with anxiety. With most of my family (except my dad and sister who also suffer and so understand), friends, employers, direct reports, etc. As I also thought it was a sign of weakness. Now, I can say use to, because I'm no longer like that. I have found great comfort in sharing, as well as support.

About a year ago, the bottom had dropped out (yet again) for me. I found myself in that downward spiral of anxiety totally taking control of me..leading to depression...That's how it goes for me. I can't take care of myself let alone my family. Horrible. I was off work on short term disability, which really irritated my boss, he didn't know why I was out, he didn't care, all he knew was that the metrics were suffering in my absence.

Upon my return I could sense his frustration with me, and actually had fears that he was going to get rid of me (we had it out and I realized I was wrong), but in that discussion I gave him more info about my issues than anyone has to give an employer, a boss, and Even though I knew he didn't completely understand, it was like a weight was taken from me. Someone knew. I also reached out to my husband during this time, wrote him a letter to try to explain, because as difficult as it is to explain, it's more difficult to not understand and not know what to do to help (he thought he needed to do something for me). Another weight lifted.

My boss has since had some things happen in his life, and he confided in me (and apologized for not getting it) when he found himself wanting to head to the ER thinking he was having a heart attack, not being able to pull himself from the couch, gripped by anxiety. And even today, after I opened up to him about my currently high levels of stress and anxiety, he reassured me that he will support me however he can, if I need to leave work, just go. If I need to work from home, just do it, if I need to talk...he's there.

He's not the only one that has and continues to support me. I think there are more people that "get it", than don't. There is more support than not. More people suffer than we realize. Sorry for this long story, but I feel that the more this issue of anxiety is brought out, the more we learn, the more we grow, the less we suffer.

Opening up about my anxiety is one of the best things I have done for both my family and career life.

Good luck to you and hope for quick recovery!

Cat33 in reply to Nb1313

That's great news about your boss

I'm just so nervous of taking that step to open up to some people I've told some and they have changed the subject and never mentioned it again which is so hurtful

I wish it was regarded like any other illness I get asked all the time how my new hip and arthritis are but no one ever ever says How is your anxiety today It would be a dream come true if they did and I know it would help me so much When I'm with friends who know I'm calm

All the very best x

Oh god, I’m not ashamed at all. All my friends know I suffer from Anxiety. Most of the world suffers from something connected to Anxiety , nervous system. Everyone knows I have anxiety attacks, panic attacks . Why should u be ashamed of it. Our nervous system or brain can get sick like the rest of our bodies. It doesn’t mean that I tell the world . When I’m having a panic attack I sit there with a smile hoping no one will notice. No body does. You should never be ashamed of it and you should be totally supported by family and friends. I mean it’s not something we talk about every day, it’s better to try to keep it on the back burner as the more u think about it the more panic attacks u have. But pls.... absoloutly nothing at all to be ashamed of.

Cat33 in reply to Jackaroo

I'm glad you are so open about it I'm not ashamed of it but other people make me feel I should be I've had some horrible reactions from those I thought were good friends Having said that I do have fantastic people who do know and support me 😊

star68 in reply to Jackaroo

Thanks for your reply, but most people don't like to like to listen and contemplate people with anxiety and their symptoms, it's too boring they don't understand why you feel those symptoms and the fear, they rather be with people that they are happy, positive and brave. My inmediate family don't understand it and I don't think they ever will, because they don't suffer from it, only my cousin will listen to me because she's a sufferer. I think it should be more awareness, some people when you tell them about your anxiety and its symptoms they would look at you like you are an alien and will say " I have never experienced that in my life" :( which doesn't help, it makes you feel so alien.

I know exactly how you feel It's so wrong that we feel like this isn't it ? I do have lovely friends who I can tell and it's fantastic but others I couldn't dare tell I definitely never ever told employers either

People ask me all the time how my arthritis is but no one ever says Hows your anxiety To me it's an illness like any other bit there is such a huge stigma about it

I hide my symptoms all the time and people often remark what a calm person I am and how hey wish they were like me 😉 I think if only they knew what was going on inside

I know exactly how you feel going for a coffee with friends

Take care remember we are very brave caring people x

star68 in reply to Cat33

Thank you for your support! Funny enough when I give a hint to some people about my anxiety, theylook surprised and say that I look so calm, that I don't come across as an anxious person.

Hidden in reply to star68

Yes I’ve had that too..people cannot believe how much I struggle. I’ve become so good at hiding it, and when I’m really bad I just don’t go out, I isolate ...for me it hasn’t ever been great when I’ve confided in people unfortunately ..and I’ve been gaslighted which really is a put off to any trust you had. 😞


star68 in reply to Hidden

I have been gaslighted too by a "friend" horrible experience, to be honest I had quite a few bad experiences with friends, it has become very hard for me to trust someone, I was very vulnerable but over the years you learn, but it'd such a pity that we can not let our guard down with people because first they will disguise as being nice and kind people for a purpose and then they will drop you like they have never known you. We are the ones left to collect the pieces while they will continue with their shameless lives.

Hidden in reply to star68

I hear ya star....empathy ....totally ..🌺🌺🌺

I like the last comment , we are indeed very brave and caring people. I have certain situations when with others that make me really anxious and for me it can sometimes shows it’s form in blushing- it’s usually when all eyes are on me and I’m feeling in comfortable with it. People who don’t suffer with blushing ‘as a problem’ all I can say it’s a horrible feeling in those 2 minutes, followed by a feeling of shame and when it’s happening it’s difficult to concentrate on what I’m saying. I can really be caught off guard with it too! But I think it really boils down to thought processes, ie telling yourself in those uncomfortable moments that what you have to say is worthwhile and important for others to hear. I think us sensitive ones just feel things more. Perhaps it’s about acknowledging your feelings in those moments , learning to be with them, but just saying ‘what the heck I’m not going to let them stop me’ and crack on in that moment anyway . I know that’s not always so easily said and done and I think it takes practice... we have to be kind too to ourselves. If you can find a good therapist then that helps too😊.

I am not embarrassed about my anxiety. I don't speak of it because family n friends want to criticize me. Telling me what to do. I have to pretend when I'm around them.

star68 in reply to Want2BHappy3

I have to say I am, I wish I was stronger and had more control over my symptoms and the fear, although I try to use the methods to control it and force myself to experiences to practise my cognitive behaviour and gained confidence doing things by myself, I wouldn't dare tell certain people because of how they would react to it.

Want2BHappy3 in reply to star68

Thats too bad, I'm able to keep control because I don't want to get criticized n ruin anyone's time.

If I feel my anxiety is coming? I just sit by myself. Take a iPod with you n listen to music. May seem rude, but you can distract yourself. Just a thought?

Claire Weekes once wrote that people who suffer from anxiety are among the bravest in the world. We have to be.

Yes, we are the bravest because we have to be to be able "to get out there" and survive carrying all our fears and insecurities with us, it is definitely not an easy task. But one thing I know for sure is that we are the kindest, most sensitive and empathic human beings on earth and I am so proud :)

i hsve generalized anxiety and panic so I fully understand your feeling. I read somewhere on the internet that anxiety does not mean you are weak but that you have been too strong for too long. It is hard for anyone who does not have this problem io fully understand but my family and friends do know that I suffer from it and are supportive. Do not feel ashamed of having this condition. Have you tried to get any help-meds or anything? Regardless hold your head high and do not feel ashamed of something you cannot control.. God luck and God Bless!

Well, I am just more selective whom a socialize with nowdays, if I don't feel comfortable with certain people, I will politely detach from them.


I can relate to this star.

I suffer with social anxiety and part of that is a fear of being judged. I feel people will judge me if they know I have anxiety. Ya one time in my life I was rather social and very active in my job role, so yes I now feel embarrassed at how anxiety has changed me. Ive learnt to hide it well. It’s exhausting though. There are only a chosen few in my life who are aware of my struggles. I feel far too vulnerable to open up to many.

You are not alone x

I fear the same, I always want to give a good impression and say the right thing, I will constantly monitor myself as a result I am more bound to say the wrong thing and appear more clumsy and nervous. I will buy friendships by coming out of my way to help them, but you can't buy friendships, I have learn that with people that you behave the natural way are the ones to consider friends, the rest are just people that you must keep formalities but if possible not too spend too much time with them. if you worry about someone judging you it's either because you have heard them judging other people or they give you negative energy which makes you act like someone you are not, and they are probably enjoying it.

When I am having a panic attack out like at a store or appointment I get an urge to tell someone if it gets to the point that I might pass out but never have actually told anyone in that kind of situation. I get the feeling that people can tell there’s something going on with me but I could be wrong. It just feels gigantic as if how can this attack not show when I am trying to converse with people? I tell my family and friends about my struggles to some extent but I isolate so much that I don’t meet up with many friends often. I am ashamed of being afraid of doing certain things especially if it is something I feel I should be able to do for my kids.

Wow. That is hard to deal with, i am sorry you have to go through this.

As a guy with anxiety, i guess seeing it as a weakness has always been valid. I mean, in general, the toll it takes is deep.

There is shame, but, that usually just leads to denial, making it worse in the long run.

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