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Navigating the Invisible Weight: A Journey with High-Functioning Anxiety

Updated: Feb 5

A photo of Jaycee after a panic attack. I look normal- no visible signs
Me after a panic attack- no visible signs

Living with high-functioning anxiety often feels like dragging around a catastrophic cloud. It's a perpetual ball and chain, and there's this constant, crushing sensation on my chest that becomes a reliable companion. It’s an invisible weight that no one sees, and some do not understand. Even when I manage to check off my daily tasks, the exhaustion is undeniable. It's like always waiting for the other shoe to drop. The photo on the left is a pic I took after a panic attack. I was at a wedding so no idea where it came from!

Daily Struggles

Today, for instance, it is now 10.30 am and I got up, did some household chores, got the kids to school, went for a quick run and handled some tasks for my husband's business. On any other day, these would be standard accomplishments. But on days when anxiety tightens its grip, these routine activities become overwhelming burdens. I'm ready to go back to bed, but life doesn't pause for our struggles, right? We carry on because we have lives to lead and responsibilities to fulfil.


How Can We Cope?

Coping mechanisms vary for each of us. Personally, activities like running or immersing myself in abstract art offer a temporary escape from the ceaseless mental chatter. Today, a morning run helped me clear my mind a bit. It's interesting how certain activities become a lifeline, providing a brief respite from the invisible weight we carry. For me however, art goes deeper than escapism; painting offers me an emotional outlet where I am able to understand how I am feeling, recognise my feelings and release them. As an adult I have never been able to write how I am feeling very well, but every time I paint, I understand myself a little bit more, and now I’m writing a blog!


Childhood Echoes

High-functioning anxiety isn't exclusive to adulthood. I remember as a child, I had anxiety about not being able to do a forward roll, I was embarrassed, ashamed, worried and couldn’t tell anyone! Seemingly small, right? But for me, it was monumental. I spent an entire night secretly practicing on my bed, determined to face school with confidence the next day.  While this paragraph seems laughable, it highlights that our own children’s worries may seem small and unworthy of attention to us, but for our children these are serious worries. This childhood pattern of masking emotions can persist into adulthood, manifesting as worries about health, accidents, or the weight of responsibilities.


A photo of Jaycee holding her new born child and living with antenatal depression
Me with Baby Bea- I'd suffered badly with antenatal depression

Anxiety And Motherhood

Now my anxiety is based around fear of illness, fear of death, fear of being a good enough Mum, or even fear about leaving the house. I’ve had CBT over these fears and they are very real fears I battle with everyday. My high functioning anxiety might show itself like “ What if I got diagnosed with a life-threatening disease?” “What if I got hit by a car? “What if something awful happens to my kids?”. Living a life with anxiety is exhausting! Where does this come from? I don’t know I just woke up like it. It sneaks up on me then hits me like a car crash.


Breaking the Silence

By sharing these personal anecdotes and insights, I aim to contribute to a broader conversation. Understanding that everyone's journey with anxiety is unique. Let's unravel the layers of this intricate mental health challenge together, finding solace and connection in the shared struggle against the invisible weight of high-functioning anxiety.


Let's Talk

I invite you to share your experiences and how you navigate high-functioning anxiety. Let's create a space where we can support each other. Remember, you're not alone. My Facebook Group has some lovely tips on it and free arty sessions. It's completely free of charge to join💙

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