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The Embarrassment of Anxiety Problems

Updated on April 21, 2012
Photo by Kelsey_lovefusionphoto at Flickr
Photo by Kelsey_lovefusionphoto at Flickr | Source

Imagine that you really need to go to the grocery store, as you are low on food and other necessities. Now imagine that you are in the grocery store and suddenly feel panicky, scared, and dizzy. Your heart is pounding so hard and fast, you can hardly breathe. You get shaky and are starting to get sweaty. The only thought in your mind is to get out of the store as quickly as possible. You have just had a panic attack.

You run to the car and get in, trying to control your breathing and calm down, but it just isn't helping. You're not even sure if you can make it home. You feel like everyone in the store who noticed you must think you're crazy. You feel totally embarrassed and worse, humiliated. This is what people who have anxiety problems go through.

I have written a lot about this subject, as I have an anxiety disorder. I've had it on and off my entire life, from early childhood. What I hope to accomplish with these articles is a better understanding of this terrible disorder, which affects about 2 and a half million people, according to WebMD. People with this disorder need understanding and support.

I totally understand why it's hard for someone who has never experienced this to understand it. It is a baffling problem. Having terrible fear and panic, when there is no reason to, is hard to understand. If you know anyone with this problem, please try to read up on it and understand what they are going through.

The main issue in this article, that I wanted to bring to light, is the embarrassment that comes with an anxiety disorder. None of us likes to feel foolish. When was the last time you did something silly or embarrassing and everyone laughed? Remember how that felt? Well, having an anxiety or panic attack makes you feel foolish. You just want to be able to open up the ground and disappear into it. It is a very embarrassing situation, which just adds to the anxiety.

Panic attacks come out of nowhere and are very hard to control. It's that lack of control over them that makes them so scary. Having no control makes you feel so many emotions...stupid, scared, frustrated, not normal, hopeless, foolish and yes, embarrassed. That's just to name a few. What is so sad is that people with this condition are not crazy or weak. They have a medical problem

If someone has a physical handicap, people understand that and don't make them feel bad about it. With an anxiety disorder, they just can't "see" the problem and tend to make the person feel like a freak. I actually had someone who I thought was my friend say to me, "What are you afraid of?" I told him nothing "real" and that was the problem. You panic when there is no real danger or threat. He said, "That doesn't make any sense!" to which I replied, "Maybe that's why they call it a disorder." He still didn't get it and his words hurt me.

To sum this up, please at least try to understand what these people are going through and treat it the same way you would as though they had a physical handicap. They are going through enough without you adding to their embarrassment by making them feel like they are just "way out there". They aren't, they have a disorder. For all of you with an anxiety disorder, check out all the different treatments available and get help. Don't let the embarrassment of it keep you from helping yourself. Believe me, you are not alone. Good luck to all of you.

Do you know anyone with an anxiety disorder?

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    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 5 years ago from the South

      J K Mass, thanks for reading and I'm so glad you got the help you needed. You're absolutely right about how it also helps our loved ones for us to get help. They sometimes don't understand or know what to do and it can be traumatic for them too. I'm off now to check out your article.

      A Fabulous New Year to you too!

    • J K Maas profile image

      Jennifer Kathleen Seigworth 5 years ago from Waterford, Pennsylvania


      Excellent article! I have an anxiety and depression mood disorder. I am on medication for it as well as attending therapy. I have had the disorder for as long as I can remember but it has become more severe in the last several years. It hit a crisis level in October and I had to seek immediate help. I had an excellent team of counselors and a psychiatrist. I feel that God gave me the right people to help me get better just as He kept me from harming myself when I felt like I had reached my breaking point. Like you said- help is out there and seeking the help we need is better for all of our loved ones as well as us. Thank you for writing this article! I wrote one also a while ago, you may consider checking it out.

      Have a wonderful New Year in 2013!!

    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 5 years ago from the South

      Thanks for reading Cashmere! A beast...good word for it! I think it's becoming more and more a common problem these days. Thanks again for stopping by :D

    • Olde Cashmere profile image

      Olde Cashmere 5 years ago from Michigan, United States

      Dealing with anxiety can sure be a beast to deal with. I used to be a busser at a classy restaurant and sometimes it would get to me while working, especially when the place was crowded. Thanks for sharing this catgypsy. Wonderful writing. Voted up, useful, and interesting :)

    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 5 years ago from the South

      Thanks Robert! I know it's hard for people who don't have it to understand it. That's why I try to share what it's like. What a good friend you are though to want to understand it better. That's a great first step to being supportive for that person.

      Thanks for the comment on my profile pic...I just always loved that picture and that's kind of how I feel I see the world...if that makes any sense! :D

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      Very good discussion of a serious subject. I must say it is a challenge for me to fully understand. I have a very close friend who struggles with this and I may often come across as your friend that was impolite. I definitely need to work on that. Thanks for sharing and I will need to read more so that I can better understand. Thanks for writing and great profile pic by the way! Love the multi-eyes. Lol

    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 5 years ago from the South

      emilybee, thanks for the comment. I had this as a child, but way back then, they called it "school phobia". I am the same way about stores. There are so many things that people don't realize we have to deal with. Thanks for sharing!

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 5 years ago

      I find when going to certain stores I feel more relaxed. Some stores are just big and cause me anxiety such as the parking lot is difficult finding a space and the store isn't arranged properly, or there's always huge lines. Smaller stores relax me more. I've been the same my entire life. My mom tells me in play group as a little kid I didn't like being around tons of people and the noise irritated me. Great hub and I'm sure it will help inform non-anxiety sufferers. Voted up.

    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 5 years ago from the South

      Thanks for sharing! There is so much more to having panic attacks than anyone realizes! I always hope articles like this will help people understand them better. Thanks so much for reading my hubs.

    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 5 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      I, too, have panic attacks - and you are right - it can be so embarrassing, even if no one really sees what you are going through, you feel as if every eye in the building is on you...somewhere in your head you know you are being irrational and still can't stop it...thanks for writing this!Voted up and SHARING!

    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 5 years ago from the South

      Thanks Minnetonka. I have it under better control with medications, but it's still can be a problem sometimes. It is sad that people are so insensitive about it, but hopefully articles about it will enlighten some people. Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I hope things are going good for you.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 5 years ago from Minnesota

      Hi catgypsy-I too have had panic attacks on and off throughout my life. You really said it well about how you feel like everyone is looking at you. Sometime they notice and sometime they don't but it always feels like they do. I think it's very helpful that your writing about how embarrassing it can be so other's aren't so insensitive when they witness this. I am so sorry to hear that your friend said that to you. The last thing any of us wants, is to feel like a freak and comments like his are hurtful and insensitive. Hope your anxiety is low these days.

    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 5 years ago from the South

      Thanks so much Kenneth! Looking for "exit" signs is so familiar to me! Yes, thank goodness there are medications and other techniques to help us. I wish you all the best with it. Thanks for your support.

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dearest Catgypsy,

      Great hub here! And you presented a sensitive topic with such care and understanding that I am moved to tears. I suffer from these disorders--panic attacks, anxiety and they ARE NOT fun. I hate to be around big crowds with no EXITs I can see. Thank God for med's that help people such as myself and thank God for sensitive writers like YOU who can bring up this topic so professionally.

      Voted UP and all but funny.

      Your friend,


    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 5 years ago from the South

      Thanks meloncauli. You're right, most people don't notice, but you don't feel that way at the time! You're sure everyone is looking at you. The no fight for control is good advice. The Power of Acceptance: Finding Peace from Anxiety and Panic Attacks by Judith Bemis is a book that helped me a lot. Thanks for your comment.

    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 5 years ago from the South

      Alur, thanks for your comment. I have my anxiety somewhat under control with medication and also other techniques (like the verbal assurances and deep breathing you mentioned). Like you, various things happening in my life have brought them on, and you have to learn ways to deal with it. I will check out your hubs for sure.

    • meloncauli profile image

      meloncauli 5 years ago from UK

      Good hub. I recently wrote of the control you mention. The fact is you have to throw down the gauntlet. No fight for control, no added tension and fear. Most people don't notice someone having a panic attack.

    • ALUR profile image

      ALUR 5 years ago from USA

      Shame is part of the panic. I never imagined I would suffer one, but when finances as a single Mom, guilt for a past I cannot erase and much more happened I found a severe pain start in the middle of my chest and work it's way in my heart. Then I was not able to breathe.

      I conquer these with verbal reassurances and lots of breathing so they can't sneak up on me! Good informative article, but dont' give way to the darkness...

      You're welcome to read my hubs as well:)