Describing Anxious Feelings


Something I used to struggle with immensely during my therapy sessions was finding the words to describe how anxiety made me feel. A big component of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) is identifying thoughts, feelings and behaviours related to anxiety and how they interact with each other. I always found it difficult to describe feelings in relation to the anxiety I feel in social situations accurately. I honestly think the English language lacks the vocabulary to fully describe such personal things and my own feelings are more complex than just simple fear or whatever.

I ended up having to leave my CBT therapist because I was so depressed at that time that working on my anxiety with CBT was becoming impossible and he didn’t think it was effective. I wasn’t sure about how well I would get on with it either but lately I’m starting to think that I might benefit from it now even though I am still depressed, it is not quite so all-encompassing as it was in 2009/10. One thing that springs to mind is the cascade of horrible thoughts and feelings that overcomes me whenever I have to look at job listings. I tried to put it into words but some of the things are just too hard for me to verbalise.

The main thing that fills my mind is how I am almost the exact opposite of how people need to be to be successful. I am so inadequate in almost every way when it comes to work. I don’t feel confident at all in my own abilities and I can say with 100% honesty that I cannot see why anyone would want to hire me over anyone else who happened to apply for the same position.

I am immediately taken back to my first job where I could not cope at all with the demands of working there and I dread (and I really do mean dread) having to be in that position again. I would end each day completely mentally exhausted and not have the mental strength to do anything else once I had finished work. I hate being there so much, before I left in the morning I would have to fight myself from thinking too much about it because I would uncontrollably get tears in my eyes. I am not someone who cries a lot but there were several times I had to hide in the toilets when I was working there and fight back tears and there is nothing I fear more than being stuck like this.

I won’t have to opportunity to leave like I did when I was working there. At some point I will have to support myself and that would simply not be an option. I couldn’t handle being trapped like that and I don’t know what I’d do (or rather, I fear I know too well what I would do) if I was stuck in that situation.

All of this and more comes to me in a flood of sickening anxiety. Needless to say this makes job hunting quite a daunting task. I am already feeling extremely guilty because of how long I have been unemployed despite having good qualifications on paper, this just adds to my worries.


13 thoughts on “Describing Anxious Feelings

  1. I’m so sorry this is happening to you! It can be so hard, and people always seem to think “Oh just try therapy, you’ll get better” like it could be an instant fix.
    But sometimes we move one step forward, two steps back. The important thing is that you’re not giving up! I hope the therapy will be more effective now. You’re an inspiration to me 🙂


  2. You say that you have no self-confidence when it comes to work? Do you have a specific skillset? For example, I’m a computer engineer and the specific knowledge I have on computer architecture gives me confidence that I have a specialty (niche) that’s targetted.

    I think many people have this kind of targetted skillset and don’t even realize it. What line of work are you in and how can you focus your work related skills into a talent you can be proud of?


    • I have got a degree in computer science last year but I don’t feel like I’m good enough at it and still feel massively underqualified for almost every job listing I’ve seen. I don’t have a lot of experience, I’ve only done tech support and other irrelevant stuff.


  3. If you don’t have a particular skill set for work, why not begin to build one now? Figure out what you’d be interested in learning, and teach yourself it. If your anxiety keeps you housebound, you can learn something via the internet. Maybe learn to design websites, or code websites…hey, you can learn an entire language online, and become a translator! There are many options because of the presence of the internet.

    Sure, my recommendation here will take time to establish, in that it’ll take a couple of years to gain expertise…but why not start today? All worthwhile change in life takes significant time, so today is the best day to make a start. Take small steps each day, and if overwhelm hits you, stop, and refocus on doing one thing at a time.

    Hope this helps. 🙂



  4. You remind me so much of my partner, she hasn’t worked a day since she got her degree. She suffers from extreme anxiety and we barely leave the house. I can see how talented and creative she is and would be an asset in any work place, however like you she cant see it or believe it.
    I try everyday to help and encourage her but like another post said its small steps and a lot of patients.


  5. Mle

    Yeah. I always get so confused with what to say with a therapist to describe my anxiety…. It’s hard to say it in words. I don’t know!!!
    I hope your job life turns around. Happy thoughts and prayers to you!


  6. bryan

    Well, the first time I had a major attack they put me on xanax but it messed with my head really badly and I had memory issues. My discharge papers noted that while medicated by it I had little to no acknowledgement of externally inflicted bodily harm/pain. What I do remember is waking up the next day with a swollen ankle and multiple bruises that hurry like hell from walking into things or just letting the car door close on me.
    Later, someone recommended me this treatment, and I’m very grateful with it, i can go anywhere i want without problem, no anxiety, no panic attacks, i’m a new person. Read this article, it helped me a lot :


  7. Anxiety is a normal response by the body to a stimulus. At a certain level, this can even actually help a person perform better. However, due to several possible factors, some people may not be able to control or cope with such crisis and therefore not be able to effectively perform. Anyway, may you be able to fully overcome your anxious feeling one of these days!


  8. cynda Schwab

    It seems from your comments that you spend too much time in your head. In that there is a constant criticism of your life. If I may suggest that you take a break from the job hunt and focus on personal well being. it may sound like a cliche, but exercise to get your serotin levels up. Do anything that gets you focused on your breathing and away from the negative thoughts. It may take time, but once you are feeling better, some ideas become so much clearer. I took the path through cycing, yoga and meditaton, and I can truly say that I like who I am.


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