Autism and Anxiety:How anxiety feels

For me it is akin to what you might feel if you have a relative who is sick in hospital, and a doctor comes up to you with a grim look on his face.  In those few seconds you might know you are about to get bad news before he’s even spoken.  Your chest will go tight, and you may feel sick.  And in your head you know something bad is about to happen.  But that feeling only lasts for a few seconds because when something bad does happen new feelings take its place.   But if you suffer from anxiety those few seconds can become days, weeks or even months. It’s like being in a constant state of anticipating something terrible.  But not in a conscious way; in your head you`re not thinking something is about to happen or go wrong, in fact you might be thinking completely happy and contented thoughts, but your body and mind react as if you are anticipating the worse.  What I mean by this is that in my head I am not thinking that I am about to get bad news, but I know that my body is feeling the way it does when that is happening.

Because that’s the thing about anxiety, it does not actually mean you are anxious about something in particular.  Sometimes it’s just the feeling, and that can be the worst part about it.  Most times if you’re anxious about doing something, then once you have done it that feeling goes. It might be replaced by other feelings, but the feeling of building up to something bad will be gone.  But if there is no one thing you are anxious about, how do you get rid of it?  Well you don’t. You have to keep reminding yourself that there is nothing to worry about, and that something bad is not just about to happen. This will not always help, but it is still important to do. This article is not aimed at giving tips on how to deal with anxiety – the aim of this is to talk about how anxiety feels, or at least how it feels to me. I think there is an idea out there that anxiety has to have some basis in real life. So if someone is anxious is must be about something they have coming up.  But that is not always true.  It does not have to connect to anything real, and there might be no good cause for the feelings.  But that will not stop them.

I am sure different people feel anxiety in different ways, but all I can do is explain how it makes me feel.  Hopefully my description will help some people recognize their anxiety even if they don`t understand why they feel the way they do.


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2 thoughts on “Autism and Anxiety:How anxiety feels

  1. YES!!! And one of the interesting things I have recently learned is how any kind of “arousal” (not in the sexual sense but ANYTHING – seeing something that looks delicious, knowing I have a test to take, alarm clock going off, a beautiful sunset…you get the idea…) feels like anxiety in my body and my parasympathetic nervous system can’t keep up! Thanks for this wise post!

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