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AIBU?

To think there's not much you can do about an anxious personality

74 replies

cowrintimrousbeastie · 27/02/2024 13:05

I don't mean an anxiety disorder, but an anxious disposition.

I'm an anxious person by nature. I think most people (who don't have any clinical issues and function fine on a day to day level) fall into two personality types in terms of how they cope with stress: depressive or anxious.

My father is an anxious person and I've definitely inherited that from him, as well as the stereotypical behaviour: on-and-off nail biting, face touching, strong desire for routine and order to feel calm, introverted nature and a need for a lot of time alone, overthinking tendencies etc.

I have worked very hard to counteract my anxiety and have pushed myself more than my father has in life. I got a degree, learnt to drive, work in a professional role where I have to speak in front of people and work in stressful situations. I don't take medication for my anxiety but muddle through life with my own coping strategies.

I am careful about what kind of jobs I take (freelance work) and push myself a little at a time at my own pace, rather than flinging myself into the deep end. I try to work on habits like nail biting and check in with my husband if I feel like I'm struggling to cope with anything (I have a tendency to shut down when not coping and go silent). I am fortunate enough that we both earn well so that I don't have to work more than 2 or 3 days a week, and I have shaped my life to work best for me so that I don't become overwhelmed and panic.

Anxiety has shaped my entire life. I'm a very happy and content person with everything I could want in life and friends and family would actually describe me as laid-back, but my nature seems to be fixed like this and (although much improved in recent years) there is always the background hum of anxiety in my brain.

YANBU- For someone with an anxious disposition there's not really much you can do other than find your own coping strategies/self care and just get by

YABU- Get yourself to the GP and get on medication for goodness sake

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aLFIESMA · 27/02/2024 14:50

You seem to be doing well at 'self-managing' and sound aware of your trigger points. I think that you will find that when you repeat certain behaviours that give you a 'win', eg- completing a task that didn't feel easy you build on your coping abilities. Don't be shy of recognising how well you are doing coweringtimrousbeastie! I know exactly how you feel. Very kind wishes x

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Smoor · 27/02/2024 15:08

I agree with you to an extent, but, having seen how my two anxious parents cowered before life, I decided not to let mine limit me. I attacked my own anxious tendencies like you'd attack a rabid dog.

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Mumsanetta · 27/02/2024 15:17

I think to a certain extent who are we to say what is and isn’t a normal level of anxiety? That’s a question for a GP but also what does it matter if you are happy with the way things are.

That said, to my mind, a level of anxiety that precludes you from full time work does need some type of intervention.

I think most people (who don't have any clinical issues and function fine on a day to day level) fall into two personality types in terms of how they cope with stress: depressive or anxious.
I disagree with this. I would describe myself as neither depressive nor anxious, but perhaps more obsessive in looking for ways to fix or solve the problem.

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ThePerfectDog · 27/02/2024 15:20

I don’t agree with the YABU or YANBU statements so haven’t voted but I disagree with your premise in a few ways. I don’t think people are either depressive or anxious, there’s a huge range. I also think that you can turn around anxiety, you’ve demonstrated this perfectly. It’s changed in the last few years for you, who’s to say that this is where that change stops?

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Superscientist · 27/02/2024 15:22

I always thought I was just a depressive person. Low mood had been part of my life since I was 8. Around 25 I was diagnosed with bipolar. I'm on medication and I have had various therapies over the years too. I am no longer a depressive person but I do have bouts of depression. My friend had an anxious feeling all of her life ... Until she had a heart defect repaired and it turned out a lot of what she felt as anxiety was her heart condition. She is still has bouts of anxiety but like me its more episodic and not so much a daily thing

If it is something that is impacting your life multiple times a week and it's something you have having to make life decisions to mitigate the impact of I think it would be absolutely worth speaking to your GP about what is available whether that is medication or therapy or something else

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pastypirate · 27/02/2024 15:23

Going to disagree respectfully. I've had clinical interventions and a long period of beta blockers and they have been life changing. Once you get some relief from anxiety why you would ever tolerate it again is beyond me.

My ex partner suffered with anxiety and although he was very reflective about the life limiting anxiety of his parents and not wanting to be like that - he was like that and I couldn't continue the relationship. Things like staying in a v poorly paid job for the level of responsibility because he felt unable to cope with interviews and application forms was ridiculous. He was in many ways a brilliant man at his professional role and if he had been more open minded about moving away he would be on great money because other private sector companies would have paid him for his worth.

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108Anj · 27/02/2024 15:24

Why not try a few minutes of meditation morning and night? It is very transformative. It helps to keep the mind from running wild

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TheYoungestSibling · 27/02/2024 15:26

I recognise both my teenager and myself in this.

Previously, when I have had therapy, advice has been along the lines of nudging at the boundaries, rather than storming the gates.

A little push here, trying something new there, helps grow the size of the world in which you feel comfortable. It takes effort to avoid the almost overwhelming desire to hide under the duvet.

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drspouse · 27/02/2024 15:31

I disagree, because I can see from those around me (my DCs and others) that being afraid of anxiety itself makes anxiety worse.

Pushing the boundaries (gently as others have said) both lessens your fear of the situation itself AND of anxiety in general - you can in future tolerate both the situation (spiders, parties, job interviews) and being anxious.

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Pirelli · 27/02/2024 15:46

YABU but for heaven's sake do not go on medication.

Just remember this. Spending too much time thinking about negative things that have happened to you in the past can lead you to feeling depressed.
Worrying about what might go wrong in the future can lead to you feeling anxious.
Try to live more in the present and you will be much happier.

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cowrintimrousbeastie · 27/02/2024 16:35

Smoor · 27/02/2024 15:08

I agree with you to an extent, but, having seen how my two anxious parents cowered before life, I decided not to let mine limit me. I attacked my own anxious tendencies like you'd attack a rabid dog.

This is what I've resolved to do as I don't want to limit myself like my father. He is happy enough but I wanted to force myself outside my comfort zone.

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cowrintimrousbeastie · 27/02/2024 16:38

Mumsanetta · 27/02/2024 15:17

I think to a certain extent who are we to say what is and isn’t a normal level of anxiety? That’s a question for a GP but also what does it matter if you are happy with the way things are.

That said, to my mind, a level of anxiety that precludes you from full time work does need some type of intervention.

I think most people (who don't have any clinical issues and function fine on a day to day level) fall into two personality types in terms of how they cope with stress: depressive or anxious.
I disagree with this. I would describe myself as neither depressive nor anxious, but perhaps more obsessive in looking for ways to fix or solve the problem.

My anxiety doesn't stop me working full time. I have always worked full time. At the moment I don't as I earn a high wage and don't need to. I also have a young toddler and am frazzled enough with that on my plate!

I think that's part of being anxious, I only have so much energy for all the things in my life. I waste a lot of energy just going about life compared to less anxious people I think. When my child is older I will probably work more but I'm glad I'll never have to work full time again if I don't want to.

I would say that obsessive tendencies come under the umbrella of anxiety.

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cowrintimrousbeastie · 27/02/2024 16:41

ThePerfectDog · 27/02/2024 15:20

I don’t agree with the YABU or YANBU statements so haven’t voted but I disagree with your premise in a few ways. I don’t think people are either depressive or anxious, there’s a huge range. I also think that you can turn around anxiety, you’ve demonstrated this perfectly. It’s changed in the last few years for you, who’s to say that this is where that change stops?

When I say that people are either anxious or depressive of course there's a spectrum within those definitions. And I also don't mean people are either anxious or depressed and that's it: I mean these are the two personality types that come out under stress. People either deal with stress in an anxious manner or a depressive manner, and within that there's obviously a spectrum of how anxious or how depressive. I don't mean they're like that all the time. Even I'm not and I'm certainly more anxious than the average person!

Yes I hope I continue to improve. I just don't think I can ever change my fundamental disposition which will always be anxious.

I hold out hope of reaching a point in life where I don't give a fuck anymore 😂 but it just seems to be such an intrinsic part of my character.

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cowrintimrousbeastie · 27/02/2024 16:44

Superscientist · 27/02/2024 15:22

I always thought I was just a depressive person. Low mood had been part of my life since I was 8. Around 25 I was diagnosed with bipolar. I'm on medication and I have had various therapies over the years too. I am no longer a depressive person but I do have bouts of depression. My friend had an anxious feeling all of her life ... Until she had a heart defect repaired and it turned out a lot of what she felt as anxiety was her heart condition. She is still has bouts of anxiety but like me its more episodic and not so much a daily thing

If it is something that is impacting your life multiple times a week and it's something you have having to make life decisions to mitigate the impact of I think it would be absolutely worth speaking to your GP about what is available whether that is medication or therapy or something else

I think I have suffered post natal anxiety on top of general anxiety too and at the moment I'm coming out of that and feeling better. Trying to figure out what's been baby and toddler stress and what's my normal level of anxiety that's just part of who I am.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not crippled by it. I'm a very happy, laid-back person. But I have an anxious disposition. Not high strung in demeanour so people who don't know would never guess, but worry and overthink things and can get very stressed if something upsets me.

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cowrintimrousbeastie · 27/02/2024 16:48

pastypirate · 27/02/2024 15:23

Going to disagree respectfully. I've had clinical interventions and a long period of beta blockers and they have been life changing. Once you get some relief from anxiety why you would ever tolerate it again is beyond me.

My ex partner suffered with anxiety and although he was very reflective about the life limiting anxiety of his parents and not wanting to be like that - he was like that and I couldn't continue the relationship. Things like staying in a v poorly paid job for the level of responsibility because he felt unable to cope with interviews and application forms was ridiculous. He was in many ways a brilliant man at his professional role and if he had been more open minded about moving away he would be on great money because other private sector companies would have paid him for his worth.

Staying in limiting jobs is like my father. Never learning to drive and other things too. He very much likes to stay in his comfort zone. I was determined that wasn't going to happen to me and have pushed against anxiety.

I think there's a big difference between clinical anxiety and an anxious disposition. I don't feel I need medication and don't want medication. But I can't change my character. I think a lot of people probably feel similarly- get very anxious about things in life but not to the point of being so crippled by it that they need medication.

I was on medication for anxiety in my teen years. It didn't do me a lot of good.

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cowrintimrousbeastie · 27/02/2024 16:48

TheYoungestSibling · 27/02/2024 15:26

I recognise both my teenager and myself in this.

Previously, when I have had therapy, advice has been along the lines of nudging at the boundaries, rather than storming the gates.

A little push here, trying something new there, helps grow the size of the world in which you feel comfortable. It takes effort to avoid the almost overwhelming desire to hide under the duvet.

100%. I've worked so hard on this over the years. Hope your teen is doing well x

OP posts:
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cowrintimrousbeastie · 27/02/2024 16:51

aLFIESMA · 27/02/2024 14:50

You seem to be doing well at 'self-managing' and sound aware of your trigger points. I think that you will find that when you repeat certain behaviours that give you a 'win', eg- completing a task that didn't feel easy you build on your coping abilities. Don't be shy of recognising how well you are doing coweringtimrousbeastie! I know exactly how you feel. Very kind wishes x

Thank you for your post. I am incredibly proud of how far I've come. My life was ruled by anxiety in younger years. That's not the case anymore but I am very determined to keep a check on myself and not get too comfortable.

Currently enjoying a period of the well deserved "easy life" after years of pushing against anxiety to get where I am now. I feel I deserve it.

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Eyesopenwideawake · 27/02/2024 16:53

You didn't necessarily inherit it from your father, it could be learned behaviour - we copy what we see and hear from our role models.

Anxiety is the emotion that is prompted when there is something too important to ignore; it's why we study, why we check that the iron is unplugged and why we look both ways when crossing the road. It's the little voice that whispers in your ear but if you refuse to listen to it it will speak louder and louder until it's screaming at you.

Sometimes it will tell you something is important when it's not, or it will tell you to be cautious when you are more than capable of doing the thing you want to do; in other words it makes mistakes. Listen to it, thank it and let it know you are in charge and it will be OK.

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Superscientist · 27/02/2024 16:56

cowrintimrousbeastie · 27/02/2024 16:44

I think I have suffered post natal anxiety on top of general anxiety too and at the moment I'm coming out of that and feeling better. Trying to figure out what's been baby and toddler stress and what's my normal level of anxiety that's just part of who I am.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not crippled by it. I'm a very happy, laid-back person. But I have an anxious disposition. Not high strung in demeanour so people who don't know would never guess, but worry and overthink things and can get very stressed if something upsets me.

It might be worth keeping a diary for a week or two to see where the balance currently is especially if you are coming out of a tricky time. You might be better than earlier but might be still in a place where a little help will provide an easier route to a place where the ground is less bumpy and doesn't trip you up as much. I had a mentor at uni. I met her once a week and I spoke through my work load and life generally. She mostly just listened but that safe place to talk was soothing. We all need that I think.

Have you had much support with the pna? I had pnd and it was quite different to the other depressions I have had. Speaking to other mums in similar situations was helpful. My HV put me in touch with a peer support group. I'm about to start some counselling with my HV to help with how I manage my mental wellbeing alongside my daughter generally and with regards to her health issues too.

It's all quite regional which is a shame. Finding a new tribe and one that understands the life I live as a mum has been helpful. For me this has come from a different support group focussed on parenting children with allergies. Nothing to do with my mental health and wellbeing but it has had a very positive impact on my emotional wellbeing and coping with life as a mum.

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pastypirate · 27/02/2024 16:56

I think there's a big difference between clinical anxiety and an anxious disposition

I'm not sure I agree though. What's the car for a non anxious person is getting nervous about things which most people do - job interview, asking someone out on a date, driving test, rollercoaster, getting called into the office at work if you make a mistake. You get the idea.
Some people get more nervous than others it's a spectrum I imagine.
That's not the same as anxiety imo. I developed anxiety due to work based stress and for a few years everything made me anxious to a greater or lesser degree. It was crippling and impacted my functioning to the point I was signed off work. I know this is not the same as the what the op describes as it was brought on by exterior factors but I know it's not the same as getting nervous. It was effing awful and I sympathise v deeply with those experiencing long term anxiety honestly it's awful and life altering.

I would argue that life limiting anxiety is clinical very much so and requires treatment if possible.

Op I'm sorry you felt medication didn't work for you that must have been really tough x

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cowrintimrousbeastie · 27/02/2024 16:57

Eyesopenwideawake · 27/02/2024 16:53

You didn't necessarily inherit it from your father, it could be learned behaviour - we copy what we see and hear from our role models.

Anxiety is the emotion that is prompted when there is something too important to ignore; it's why we study, why we check that the iron is unplugged and why we look both ways when crossing the road. It's the little voice that whispers in your ear but if you refuse to listen to it it will speak louder and louder until it's screaming at you.

Sometimes it will tell you something is important when it's not, or it will tell you to be cautious when you are more than capable of doing the thing you want to do; in other words it makes mistakes. Listen to it, thank it and let it know you are in charge and it will be OK.

That may well be true! I saw my dad biting his nails and I ended up biting mine. I didn't bite for over ten years and then immediately started again after having a child 🤦🏼‍♀️ currently trying to stop that as I don't want him seeing me doing it!

Yes I think I have the bit in my brain saying "switch the iron off" except it's saying it too often and about all sorts of things that don't matter.

The general trend in my life seems to be that I get better at coping and relaxing with every year. Onwards and upwards!

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GivingOutYards · 27/02/2024 16:59

Pirelli · 27/02/2024 15:46

YABU but for heaven's sake do not go on medication.

Just remember this. Spending too much time thinking about negative things that have happened to you in the past can lead you to feeling depressed.
Worrying about what might go wrong in the future can lead to you feeling anxious.
Try to live more in the present and you will be much happier.

Respectfully, I would just say that medication was life changing for me in a positive way

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pastypirate · 27/02/2024 17:01

Pirelli · 27/02/2024 15:46

YABU but for heaven's sake do not go on medication.

Just remember this. Spending too much time thinking about negative things that have happened to you in the past can lead you to feeling depressed.
Worrying about what might go wrong in the future can lead to you feeling anxious.
Try to live more in the present and you will be much happier.

I find this post very patronising.

Medication was life changing for me. No one should take or not take medication that they don't want to obviously.

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cowrintimrousbeastie · 27/02/2024 17:03

pastypirate · 27/02/2024 16:56

I think there's a big difference between clinical anxiety and an anxious disposition

I'm not sure I agree though. What's the car for a non anxious person is getting nervous about things which most people do - job interview, asking someone out on a date, driving test, rollercoaster, getting called into the office at work if you make a mistake. You get the idea.
Some people get more nervous than others it's a spectrum I imagine.
That's not the same as anxiety imo. I developed anxiety due to work based stress and for a few years everything made me anxious to a greater or lesser degree. It was crippling and impacted my functioning to the point I was signed off work. I know this is not the same as the what the op describes as it was brought on by exterior factors but I know it's not the same as getting nervous. It was effing awful and I sympathise v deeply with those experiencing long term anxiety honestly it's awful and life altering.

I would argue that life limiting anxiety is clinical very much so and requires treatment if possible.

Op I'm sorry you felt medication didn't work for you that must have been really tough x

At that time it was horrendous and I was clinically anxious. As a teenager I was absolutely crippled by it as you can imagine.

Now that I'm older I realise that I'm not clinically anxious anymore, but there is something in my personality, in the very way that I am that is clearly prone to anxiety. I'm also very much an introvert. I socialise easily and enjoy the company of others but, my god does it kick the shit out of me. I need so much time to myself to process thoughts and life in general.

Someone needs to invent a button on the side of your head to switch off or calm thoughts!

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RhubarbGingerJam · 27/02/2024 17:07

I felt I was the same just an anxious personality when younger.

Slowly realised my parents are very anxious people and I've picked up some of their habits as normal - internalise the super critical voice and behavioural patterns - frequently been outsider ort DH who pointed out some bat shit things I'd normalised. Plus self help books in 20s help me stop of silence the almost obsessive critical voice - though main technique is distraction or being own cheer leader to counter.

Sometimes it people round me affecting me - my family or other being very critical and negative to point I'm talked out of trying things.

ND is rife in my family and does affect me - though also being label bad with people limited me further with developing social skills and confidence in them. Actually I'm not that bad even though I'm happier in some situations than others - so are other people.

Also contraceptive pill and now peri menopaused affect how anxious I am - so hormones are in mix.

So it's possibly partly genetic but also environment driven.

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