What I Wish People Understood About Anxiety And Overthinking

by Eileen Lamb
Originally Published: 
A woman with anxiety sitting in a chair with a phone in her hand in a black and white photo with a r...
Scary Mommy and Vladimir Vladimirov/Getty

When you’re the person who overthinks, everything becomes more complex. You analyze every little detail — every text, every glance, every change in demeanor. Like a detective, you try to see behind the curtain, you have a hard time believing there’s no hidden meaning behind what you see. A one-word answer means they’re mad at you. No answer means they want nothing to do with you anymore. Your mind skips right past the logical explanation that maybe they’re having a hard day or they’re busy. No, it’s personal. ⁣

⁣You spend hours typing and re-typing a two phrase answer, shaking as you hit “send” and re-rereading your message over and over until finally they answer.⁣ Even after they’ve answered, you can’t help but read your conversation again. You wonder why they said “hi” instead of “hey,” and why they didn’t use an emoji. Maybe you should have worded your text differently. Maybe they’re distancing themselves?

You try to convince yourself that everything’s fine, but you can’t. You don’t have control over your mind. It’s a constant inner fight between the part of you that wants to let go and take words for what they are, and the part that’s guarded and mistrusting.

You come off as needy, and you wish people understood that your heart, trust, and feelings have been broken before. You’re just trying to protect yourself. You prepare yourself for the worst in a vain attempt to cushion your soul, because if you’re prepared for the pain, it hurts a little bit less. ⁣

There aren’t many people who understand you, but you don’t blame them — you’re tired of your own mind too. If you’re on high alert all the time, it’s because you’ve been there before. You had it all. You allowed yourself to be happy. You allowed yourself to love without worrying about the future. You allowed yourself to not overanalyze everything, but then you got hurt. You made yourself vulnerable, and they left.

So now you’re afraid of change — afraid people will leave you with a broken heart, one more time. It’s hard for you to believe that happiness can happen to you. You believe the universe has a way of rebalancing everything, so even when it’s all going well, you’re scared that it’s going to get taken away. That’s what your experience has taught you, you say.

⁣You constantly feel drained from the intensity of your mind that never stops throwing a tornado of thoughts at you. You wish there was an off-button, but there’s not.

Your anxiety might be trying to protect you. It might be preparing you for the worst so you have a chance to grab a parachute to soften the fall. One of your downfalls (like me) might be to prevent potential heartbreak, so you might distance yourself from the people you love. It ends up affecting the relationships, even though in reality there was nothing to protect yourself against to begin with. Sometimes it’s difficult for us to believe that people can stay even when we’re not our best self. It’s difficult for us to believe that there are people who actually stay through the storms life throws at us. It feels like utopia to believe that forever friends do exist and that they can happen to us too. But forever friends exist, and for them I am thankful.

You know it makes it harder for people to love you, so you’re thankful for the people who stay, even if they know you need a little more reassurance than most. They’ve seen you at your worst and they don’t run away. They won’t even mention that you’re telling them the same story for the third time today. They listen every time like it’s the first. They hug you quietly when you can’t express the messiness of your mind into coherent thoughts. They stay.

In a world where people run away at the first sight of struggle, find the ones who stay. They’re the keeper who will keep your heart safe.

We are Scary Mommies, millions of unique women, united by motherhood. We are scary, and we are proud. But Scary Mommies are more than “just” mothers; we are partners (and ex-partners,) daughters, sisters, friends… and we need a space to talk about things other than the kids. So check out our Scary Mommy It’s Personal Facebook page. And if your kids are out of diapers and daycare, our Scary Mommy Tweens & Teens Facebook pageis here to help parents survive the tween and teen years (aka, the scariest of them all.)

This article was originally published on