Anxiety Can Make You Say Mean Things
Anxiety can make us say mean things, regrettably, no matter how nice we are. I would say that I am a nice person. Indeed, I would go as far to say that my “niceness” is often viewed as a defining characteristic to my closest friends. As far as I know myself, this isn’t just appearances. I do care deeply about people and feel a great sadness when learning about other people’s unhappiness and disappointments. I cannot bear to hear stories of loneliness and abandonment. I do not think that I have ever intended to hurt anybody or that I have ever taken pleasure in another person’s unhappiness. But I have said mean things when anxiety got the better of me.
Saying Mean Things Due to Anxiety Leads to Regret
At the time of writing, I have, touch wood, a tight reign on my mental health. I am on a medication dosage that suits me, have received counselling and cognitive behaviour therapy and have an all around good grasp on my physical and mental wellbeing. However, there has been times in my life when I have had much less control and have said things, nasty things, during times of intense anxiety and depression, that I deeply regret. I have used words that I would otherwise abhore and be greatly offended by. I have made comments about other people’s intelligence and appearance that horrify me upon reflection. I have overreacted to situations and have ended up insulting people beyond what was necessary with my words and actions.
For a long time, I wondered if these outbursts have revealed a crueller side of my personality, a side that I can usually suppress when in better health. I have felt a profound sense of guilt due to this, and a great feeling of despair that I may well never find closure or a release for this guilt. Although it is, of course, important to acknowledge when we have wronged others, it is also important to make peace with ourselves and to move on. I have found that the best way to prevent these outbursts is to figure out where they are coming from and what triggers them.
Anxiety Makes You Say Mean Things Out of Fear and Frustration
Anxiety and depression can bring about strong feelings of fear, frustration and anguish and this can lead to misunderstandings. I have gone through phases of being extremely agoraphobic, to the point where even dashing to the corner shop felt like a terrible ordeal. This has been incredibly constricting and, at times, has narrowed my life and my thoughts considerably. I have had to deal with people treating me “differently” to how they might treat a person in good mental health. This has led to me feeling hopelessly cut adrift from other people.
It isn’t always just the out and out nastiness that can hurt. Sometimes people will treat you very gently as if they are worried you might explode at any given moment. Other people will not know how to react around you. They will shift uncomfortably in their seats and shoot each other awkward, embarrassed looks. They might even actively avoid participating in conversation with you. This is to be expected in a society where mental health still isn’t spoken about enough (What Is Stigma?). For the most part, I do not judge people who do not know how to treat people with mental health problems. However, this logic has completely evaded me at times, causing me to lash out.
During my more anxious times, a misplaced word or look can feel loaded with intent and can send me into a panicked cycle of fear and paranoia. Of course, this is not an excuse but I feel that it is important that these crashing cycles of anxiety are understood. I have written before about how anxiety can make you very inward-looking to the point of appearing self-absorbed. Sometimes, anxiety can even blind you to the impact that your own negative behaviour can have on others.
Anxiety Can Make You Speak Before You Think Video
Banim, J. (2016, May 3). Anxiety Can Make You Say Mean Things, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, May 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2016/05/how-anxiety-can-make-you-say-mean-things
Author: Julia Banim
He needs to get help, and it's unfortunate that he seems to think self-medication is going to be sufficient. It isn't. He needs professional help, whatever may work for him. Regardless, this situation is too much for you to handle, and until he gets the professional help he needs, which may take a long time, you and your children are not going to be in a good place being around him.
I know this is difficult to hear. I don't doubt that there are things about him you love - you wouldn't have married him if there weren't. But please, leave. Don't think twice, just leave. If you don't, I fear there's going to be a breaking point, and I fear for you and your children. I hope that he finds the help he needs someday. But until that happens, you owe it to yourself and the rest of your family to continue your life on your own.
My now ex-boyfriend suffers from severe anxiety and panic disorder. He was on meds but had an adverse reaction to them and decided to quit cold turkey on July 30th. Since then in the following weeks his anxiety and panic attacks intensified. He had nightmares and barely gets any sleep. Slowly his behaviour began to change. I urged him to get help and go back to see his doctor. He refused.
From Aug 19-31 he was traveling for work. He works in a very demanding and very high stressed field. I should also mention he's mildly on the autistic spectrum.
In August up until the 24th we were still making life plans together. He had his attacks but he was able to work through them.
August 25th he had a severe attack that lasted hours.
August 26th he was paralyzed by his anxiety and sat in hotel room on his bed for 6hrs. Since then he's had constant attacks and began self medicating with alcohol. He doesn't always get drunk but he will if the opportunity is there. He never did that before.
Since the 26th he's been distant. He said he still loved me and that he didn't want this to end as of Sept 11th. He had another severe attack on the 14th when we were supposed to see each other. He canceled on me and decided to go out and get drunk with colleagues. But he apologized and said he still wanted to be together. I reassured him I would always be here for him.
He had to fly out to NY again for work. I didn't hear from him for 5 days. I didn't reach out either because I didn't want to give him additional pressure on top of his work. He was out drinking every night.
He returns Wednesday Sept 19 and is a completely different person. He was hostile, verbally abusive, cruel in his words and uncaring. He broke up with me. I didn't fight him on it, I left. He also admitted to using adderall to help him focus at work during his panic attacks. He texted the next day to say Sorry but we haven't spoken or texted since.
I guess what I'm asking is, is this normal? Can someone's personality change so drastically? Prior to Aug 25th he was loving, kind, sweet and we were totally in love.
He is refusing help. I'm scared and worried for him but I don't know how to approach this. He ended things with me and isn't likely to want my help.
It sounds like, despite the adverse reaction he had to his medication, they were helping him keep under control. Quitting cold turkey does not sound like it was a good idea, and it is probably in his best interest to find another medication that works for him at some point.
I know you are worried about him, but if I'm being honest, breaking up with him is probably a good thing. After he changed, you were not in a good place with him, and you deserve better than to be caught in the center of his tirade of abuse. Of course, it's OK to hope for the best and want him to find help. It's clear that you care for him and his well being. But at this point, being apart from him is best for you, and, honestly, for him too. He needs to understand that it's on him to get the help he needs, and that his current behavior is toxic. He's not going to get that message if you were still with him.
Thank you for your response. I know you're right. The last month was very toxic for me. It is hard to walk away from someone you love even though you know it's the right thing to do. I don't know that he will seek help and I worry about the alcohol and adderall combo he's taking. But I no longer recognize this person. The change over the last month is scary to me. I'm afraid for him.
You've described classic patterns for both anxiety and depression. It's very hard to see your own child go through something like this. Her remarks about it being better for everyone if she isn't here should be taken seriously. Have you heard of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline? They are available 24/7 via phone or online chat, and there are resources on their website. Check out https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ for information. You can look at the site with your daughter and encourage her to call or chat online. Talking to someone about suicidal thoughts doesn't put ideas in their head, but it does open up the opportunity for discussion and getting help from a therapist.
Also, as a parent, you need support, too. Is there a NAMI affiliate in your area? If so, they will have resources, classes, and support groups designed for parents/spouses/loved ones. They will likely have resources for your daughter, too. Visit nami.org to find out if there is one near you.
Overcoming anxiety as a teen or child takes time, but with patience and outside support, it's possible. Hang in there -- it will get better.
Really at my wit's end, feel very ill and helpless. Feels like I recognised everything just too late. Dunno where to turn
I'm glad you've found some comfort in this post. It can be hard to be around someone like that - I should know because I can be one of those people sometimes. But those outbursts need not define them.