People in my life who have known me longer than my Generalised Anxiety Diagnosis think it's really odd to think of me as struggling with anxiety. I was always the life and soul of a party, in the middle of a circle of people talking - I was always the one with the gossip, the one with the loudest voice in a room, the one that was in and out of friendship groups in school. I was never the kind of person that people typically think of as someone with anxiety - but here we are. So, what's it really like to be an extrovert with anxiety?
Anxiety is a really tough illness to live with - and a lot of sufferers actually display symptoms from early in their childhood; for this reason, a lot of anxiety symptoms are often mistaken as being personality traits. In my case, this isn't the fact - I've always had anxiety about speaking to people, but I've always wanted to have my voice heard. I've always worried how people look at me, but I've always wanted to go on adventures and meet new people. As I've gotten older, it's become much, much clearer that my illness and personality have often, and will often, go head to head.
My anxiety disorder doesn't stop me meeting new people, it doesn't stop me wanting to travel the world, or talk to strangers in the street - it doesn't stop my extrovert personality coming through. I can speak to someone without thinking about it, I can join in conversations with strangers - my head just deals with it in a different way. Whereas I am able to act on my extroverted thoughts, my head always has me thinking that I'm an idiot and everyone hates me afterwards.
I'm not the only person out there who is an extrovert with Generalised Anxiety Disorder. My symptoms make me appear shy, but that doesn't mean that I am - my illness leads me to struggle with uncertainty, with situations that I'm not in control of; this doesn't mean that I dread every social occasion or can't talk to people, just if they happen to cross over into a field my anxiety struggles with, I can struggle with them by default.
What I'm trying to say is, I'm an extrovert, I'm loud and bolshy and cheeky and I swear a lot; and that doesn't diminish the fact that I suffer pretty greatly from Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Anxiety disorders don't mean that you're shy or introverted, they mean that you have issues with anxiety - the clue's in the name.