The struggles may not always be obvious, but they’re real.
One of the reasons mental illness is still commonly misunderstood is because often, it’s invisible: Someone you know may be struggling with anxiety, and you might have no idea. In fact, a friend’s anxiety could be triggered by something the rest of us would consider part of our normal, everyday lives. A recent AskReddit thread asked users what causes their anxiety—here are some of the most eye-opening responses:
1. When someone is looking at you. “Anything once somebody starts staring at me. I hate having to do things with somebody looking at you.”
2. Speaking to others in-person. “Especially if they’re in a group of people I don’t know.”
3. Getting a haircut. One commented described the thoughts she has during a haircut: “I get really nervous and as a result look worried. I don’t choose to look worried, I just do. Then there’s the the dilemma of where to look. Do I stare at my own worried face in the mirror and have some weird half-smile, half-grimace plastered on it? Or look at the floor? Is my head tilted to one side? Should I be talking to the barber/hairdresser?”
4. Doing any task you claim to be really good at in front of someone else. “Or a new task in front of someone who is already really good at it.”
5. Showing up to work. “The whole morning just leaves me really anxious until I walk in the door to work. As soon as I get there I’m fine.”
6. Being with people after a weekend spent alone. “For some reason it makes me feel like a stranger with my close friends.”
7. Listening to voicemails. “I feel like I’m gonna throw up every time.”
8. Waiting for someone to respond to a message. “No matter how insignificant it is,” added the Reddit user.
9. Putting away change from a cashier. One commented says that he hates having to take change from a chaser because it takes so long to put it back in his wallet. “It feels like everyone in the store stops what they’re doing to stare at me annoyingly until I’ve shoved it in the most convenient pocket or bag.”
10. Being on time. “Every time I have to be somewhere, I make sure I’m [in the neighborhood] 15-20 minutes early, and then just stand around awkwardly. And every time I’m exactly on time, I apologize for being late. I don’t get myself.”
11. Being around new people. “I have no idea who you are,” said one commenter. “What do I say? Is it creepy if I talk to you? Is it creepy if I dont talk to you?” Another user chimed in that it’s even worse when you can’t remember their name after a few minutes.
12. Group projects at school. If your son or daughter has social anxiety, hearing a teacher announce, “okay class, get into groups of four for your project this semester,” could be majorly stressful. “Everyone I would want to be in a group with always seemed to pair up with other people immediately,” explained one commenter. “That left me getting paired up with the people who no one wanted to be with (which also describes me, I suppose).”
13. Using self-service checkouts. “I exaggerate my movements to make sure security can see that I’m not shoplifting.”
14. Making a left turn at a busy intersection. There’s just always someone behind you impatiently waiting for you to go.
15. Writing emails. “I’ll just sit there for hours revising four sentences.”