The 'rude' side of anxiety
“Never judge a book by its cover.” This is a common expression used when you meet someone new-to never judge them solely based on appearance. However, we can’t help it sometimes. We are quick to judge and write off someone, assuming that they are rude or impolite. Yet, that might not always be the case. Those who suffer from anxiety have coping mechanisms and side effects that can come across as “rude.”
A lot of us have been in a social situation where we’ve felt we didn’t showcase ourselves in the way we wanted to. Whether it was being too chatty in fear of awkward silences or being too quiet. For people who live with anxiety, situations like this can feel all too real. There are other ways as well which include:
They leave an event early or abruptly: Our body’s natural reaction is “flight” or “fight.” In this case, the “flight” response is activated. If someone’s anxiety is becoming too intense, their brain’s response to a perceived threat will tell them that it’s time to go.
They cancel plans last minute: Chances are that they are excited to go out but as those plans near closer, anxiety begins to speaker louder. Their anxious thoughts may consist of fearing a panic attack in public or avoiding triggering situations.
They ask “can you repeat that?” multiple times in a conversation: Brain fog! People with anxiety are overwhelmed with thoughts. At times, it can be hard to process so much information at once.
They seem withdrawn or don’t talk much in a conversation: People with anxiety may fear being judged for what they say or how they say it. Some would prefer to listen to what others are saying, rather than input their thoughts into a conversation.
They are irritable and easily agitated for what may seem like “no reason”: Anxiety is overwhelming! Imagine trying to battle your thoughts, physical sensations, and a sense of impending doom all while trying to navigate at once.
I have been in situations where due to my anxiety, I may have come across as rude. Whenever I am out with friends or at a party, I end up staying for a very short while before leaving. Also, during these social gatherings, I stick by the side of who I’m with. This is where I would be seen as clingy and disrespectful. This is something I don’t mean to be. I just want to stay with people I know.
I also don’t know how to connect with random strangers. I don’t know what I can trust about what they do or say. I don’t know how to react to the conversation. So I become monotoned to avoid saying or doing the wrong things. But once I get to know them, I start to relax and I can be myself. I’m not as cold as I initially seem.
These are just a few things that I do that can easily come across as rude to others to strangers and acquaintances.
But there are ways to overcome your anxiety with these coping mechanisms. Some methods include:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) helps people learn different ways of thinking about and reacting to inducing anxiety situations. A therapist can help you develop ways to change negative thought patterns and behaviours before they get out of control.
Identify and manage your triggers: Whether it is on your own or with a therapist, learn what your triggers are and how to manage them. Sometimes they can be obvious, like caffeine, drinking alcohol, or smoking. Other times they can be less obvious. Long-term problems, such as work-related situations, may take some time to figure out. When you do figure out your trigger, you should try to limit your exposure if you can.
Meditation: Meditation can help your brain dismiss anxious thoughts when they arise. If sitting still and concentrating is difficult, try starting with yoga.
Health: Exercising regularly, eating balanced meals, getting enough sleep, and staying connected to people who care about you are great ways to not think of your anxiety.
Medication: If your anxiety is severe enough that your mental health is being jeopardised, discuss your concerns with your doctor.
(Note: Remember that different methods work for different people.)
Anxiety is our body’s natural response to stress. How we deal with it may come across as “rude” to those that do not know us. For loved ones, recognize that these anxiety-driven patterns can be extremely difficult for the anxious person to adjust, especially if they're in the midst of a clinical anxiety problem.
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