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High-functioning anxiety : when you perform despite a disorder


The anxiety that led to my exhaustion


Anxiety takes many forms. Today I simply want to share with you my personal experience with what is recognised as high-functioning anxiety.


I suffered from anxiety from an early age. When I was in pre-kindergarten, I remember not wanting to go to bed at night without having "listed my problems for the day" to my parents - both of whom were distressed by the suffering of a 4-year-old to whom they obviously wanted to give a carefree, happy childhood...


Since then, I've always woken up with a lump in my stomach, afraid of what was going to happen to me outside the house that day; of what my classmates were going to do and say; of the day's possible arguments between friends; of the difficulty of school homework; of the exercises imposed in gym class; of the menu at the canteen... and so on!


But the worst period came during my studies, which I'd chosen to please my family and make my father even prouder of his little girl who'd graduated top of her class. My heart was calling me to the profession of psychologist (surprise, surprise... ;), but my head opted for a purely rational choice, devoid of any interest whatsoever. Thus began 5 long years of study at SciencesPo Paris, followed by a brilliant international career with all that goes with it, but accompanied by a staggering inner emptiness.


As usual (you can't change a winning team), I performed and even excelled in everything I undertook. I put insane pressure on myself to "succeed" and climb ever higher. I was so caught up in the infernal spiral of "always more" and "never enough" towards myself that after 2-3 years in one job, I was terribly bored. I needed this constant, unrelenting pressure to feel useful, alive and stimulated. As soon as there were too many "cool" days at work, I went crazy. I couldn't understand how my colleagues could enjoy themselves and go about their personal business in the meantime. I might as well be rushing around, since we had to be there 8 hours a day...!


When my ex-colleagues found out I'd had a burn-out, they were stunned: "You seemed so calm, you gave the impression that everything was under control, you managed your job with a master's hand and climbed the ladder one after the other!


I was internalising my stress, my worries and my anxiety. I found it hard to accept help from others and even to open up to my friends for fear of being vulnerable and appearing weak, of being misunderstood or perceived as a "Drama Queen" (a term I'd heard as a child).



The tip of the iceberg


High-functioning anxiety is characterised by symptoms of anxiety that, while they don't prevent a person from being productive and functioning, can actually cause them to experience internal struggles typical of this disorder, such as: worrying excessively, being constantly agitated, having racing thoughts or feeling like something bad might happen.


The main difference with other anxiety disorders lies in the way we perceive and react to these symptoms.


For people suffering from high-functioning anxiety, there's usually a fight reaction that involves working harder to try and combat the anxiety. You might even call it perfectionism.


On the outside, people with high-level anxiety seem:

  • Highly organised

  • Detail-oriented

  • Proactive

  • Highly efficient


But inside they:

  • Think non-stop

  • Feel overwhelmed

  • Plan everything

  • Are afraid of losing control

  • Doubt themselves

  • Fear failure

  • Never feel adequate

  • Can't relax

  • Need to be constantly busy

  • Need to please everyone

  • Can't say no or set limits

  • Have difficulty expressing their emotions

  • Feel irritable, exhausted



How can you soothe this anxiety?


If you're currently struggling with anxiety, exhaustion and chronic pain or discomfort related to this perpetual stress, tension and pressure (much of which you may be inflicting on yourself, if you're like I was...), then you've come to the right place.


I've been there. I myself have struggled with the total dysregulation of my nervous system, dealing with exhaustion, anxiety, depression and irritable bowel syndrome - to name but a few symptoms.


It took me years to put the puzzle back together and heal myself 100%. Today, I live my second life with my family, including three horses, on 7 hectares of land in Portugal.


You don't need to spend years looking for solutions, as I did - I'm here to help you heal faster, through the innate healing and soothing power of that fabulous companion: your BODY 🤍


With all my love,

Ana

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