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19 Things That Have Genuinely, Honestly, 100% Triggered My Anxiety

No, I'm not kidding.

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Although this post is based on one person's experience with anxiety, we hope it helps.

1. Being given a lovely gift.


How a non-anxious brain reacts: "Oh, how nice! I have a new thing!"

How my brain reacts: "Oh no. I'm so shit at buying gifts, I'll never be able to get them a good gift in return. Am I being grateful enough? Or am I being too grateful? Am I being odd? I'm going overboard, I can tell. It's only a cup. I've been talking about it for 10 minutes. They're going to think I'm being fake AF. Am I being fake AF? I JUST DON'T KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT THIS CUP."

2. People offering to do me a favour.


How a non-anxious brain reacts: "Oh phew, my problem is solved."

How my brain reacts: "That's nice but what if they think I'm being cheeky for accepting? Maybe they were just being polite. Or worse, what if they expect something in return, and I don't realise? I'm going to feel so awkward and apologetic while they're doing me the favour. I'll just pretend I've sorted out the problem, turn down the help, and just stress about the problem all night. Yay!"

3. Being in a long-term, loving relationship.

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How a non-anxious brain reacts: "I'm so lucky!"

How my brain reacts: "I'd better not ask them if they love me again. I look so clingy. They said they do love me but is that true? Are they going to leave me?

Better not ask again. Don't ask again. Stop asking. They'll definitely leave me if I do. I'm so annoying. Play it cool. Treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen. DON'T ASK AGAIN. Shit, I asked again."

4. Getting a text from a friend.


How a non-anxious brain reacts: "Oh cool, a text."

How my brain reacts: "Argh, my phone just vibrated. 'Not seen you for a while, hope you're OK?' OMG, what does that mean? Are they annoyed? They sound annoyed. They're probably annoyed. WELL THAT'S ANOTHER FRIEND WHO HATES YOU. WELL DONE. I'm going to die alone."

5. Having a job that I really like.


How a non-anxious brain reacts: "I'm so lucky!"

How my brain reacts: "There is no way I'm going to keep this job. My manager's praising my work? What if I don't continue to work this well forever? They'll fire me for sure. I'm so fired. Fired AF. Better say yes to all this extra work or I'll lose my job. Shit I can't manage all this extra work. I'm so stressed out! I'm not going to...Oh I finished it all. Better take on more work so I don't look lazy."

6. Being invited to literally any social occasion.

Fortis Films

How a non-anxious brain reacts: "Yay! It'll be so much fun. Can't wait."

How my brain reacts
: "What if I can't think of anything to say to anyone? Or what if I drink too much and make a fool of myself? What if I get there too early and there's only me and, like, two other people there and I don't know them and I have to talk to them ALL BY MYSELF? And there's an awkward silence and..."

7. Throwing a party.


How a non-anxious brain reacts: "I'm so excited! Can't wait to see all my friends."

How my brain reacts: "Oh god, why did I decide to do this? What if no one comes? I'll look so stupid. Crap, but what if too many people come? Like, strangers and stuff? And I'm on the news and my house gets trashed and the police show up? Do I have enough food? I better make more food. Spend more money. More food! OH GOD WHAT IF I RUN OUT OF BOOZE?"

8. Going on holiday.


How a non-anxious brain reacts: "WOO! HOLIDAY! WOO!"

How my brain reacts: "Have I done all the things I need to do? What if I need some kind of rare visa? Did I remember to print the boarding passes? Where's my passport?! What if my house spontaneously combusts when I'm away? I bet I haven't turned everything off at the wall. It will definitely burn down. Have I locked the door? I bet I've just left it wide open. Enjoy, thieves!"

9. And airports in particular.


How a non-anxious brain reacts: "WOO! HOLIDAY! WOO!"

How my brain reacts: "Better get there five hours early in case the security queue is several miles long. The gate hasn't been announced yet. What if I miss the plane? I'll stare at the departure board without blinking until the gate is announced. The gate's been announced. Fuck, it says "BOARDING" already! I'm not there!! I'm running, please wait for me, plane. I'M GOING TO MISS THE PLANE."

10. Every single aspect of being on a plane.


How a non-anxious brain reacts: "WOO! HOLIDAY! WOO!"

How my brain reacts: "Shit, turbulence. Well that's it, we're all going to die horribly. Is the wing on? Yes, it's still on. But why is that flap flapping around so much? WHAT WAS THAT NOISE? Oh, it's the landing gear coming down. Has it come down though, what if it's stuck? Oh we're on the ground never mind."

11. And waiting to get my luggage back.


How a non-anxious brain reacts: *Whistles to itself, bored*

How my brain reacts: "My luggage will definitely get lost. It's been lost. No doubt about it. OH GOD OTHER PEOPLE'S LUGGAGE HAS COME OUT BUT MINE HASN'T. I stuck large pieces of A4 paper with the destination airport all over it. This is so unfair...oh there it is."

12. Someone that I care about going out.

De Laurentiis Entertainment Group

How a non-anxious brain reacts: "Hope they have a nice time!"

How my brain reacts: "The roads are so dangerous. Anything could happen. Motorways are basically giant, tarmac-covered, death-trap thunderdomes. Oh no, I've told them to "be careful" too many times. They're going to start getting annoyed with me now. I'll just say it really quietly to myself, like a mantra...while checking accident reports obsessively, of course."

13. Leaving the house myself.

How a non-anxious brain reacts: *Just goes outside*

How my brain reacts
: "Where are all my things? How am I running so late already? WHY HAVE MY SHOES GONE? Do I have my purse? Yes. Keys? Yes. Wait, no. Wait, yes. No. Possibly. Don't panic, stop panicking, you still have time to get to the place. SERIOUSLY THOUGH WHERE ARE MY FUCKING SHOES? Why is life so hard and why am I such a terrible person?"

14. Getting post.

Aardman Animations

How a non-anxious brain reacts: "Oh good, the post is here."

How my brain reacts
: "Shit, that letter looks important. I've clearly forgotten to do something. Have I paid my taxes? Yes, I always pay my taxes. But what if I haven't? I'm going to jail. That's the letter they send you that just says 'go to jail RN.' I always knew this would happen. There's too many things you have to do. Oh it's just an electoral registration form."

15. Someone knocking at the door.


How a non anxious brain reacts: *Just opens the door all casual, like*

How my brain reacts: "Is it the police? I bet it is. It's definitely the police. What if someone I know has died? Where's (insert name of loved one)? I TOLD THEM TO "BE CAREFUL" FFS. It's not the postman. The postman's already been. It must be the police. Guess I'll be going to a funeral soon. I always knew this day would come. Oh it's just someone wanting to take a gas meter reading. Thank fuck."

16. Owning dogs.

Twitter: @MariaCarey24

How a non-anxious brain reacts: "I LOVE MY DOGS OMFG <3 <3 <3"

How my brain reacts: "So sad! They're just going to die in, like, 11-14 years. I'm not going to be able to cope when they die. Oh god, when was their last vaccination? Have I forgotten to get them their shots. They're going to die of whatever their expensive shots stop them getting! I'M SO SORRY I HAVE FAILED YOU BOTH MY CHILDREN. Oh wait no it's OK."

17. Receiving compliments.


How a non-anxious brain reacts: "Aw thanks bbe."

How my brain reacts: "WHY ARE THEY LYING TO ME?"

18. Stomach trouble and related symptoms.


How a non-anxious brain reacts: "Better take some anti-fart pills."

How my brain reacts: "My stomach's so painful. Why do I keep going to the bathroom? There's something seriously wrong. I'm not sleeping, I'm having night sweats...I'm definitely going to die. I bet it's cancer. I've got heart and/or stomach cancer. I feel death's icy grip upon me. I'm going to check my symptoms online. Yep. Cancer. Literally every type. I knew it. RIP me."

19. Taking medication to help with my anxiety.

Pacific and Orient Insurance

How my brain reacts: "What if I have a bad reaction to this? The list of side-effects is so long. Wait, one of the side effects is 'anxiety.' WTAF. Fuck it, I'm not taking these. What if I just get worse? I'll just stick to what I know. Oh no, but the doctor will get annoyed if I don't take them. WHAT SHOULD I DO? I will just sit here and rock back and forth in the feedback loop of my own anxiety. This is my life now."

All joking aside, if you need information and practical advice on anxiety, you can call the Rethink advice and information service on 0300 5000 927 (10am–2pm), if you're in the UK.

You can call the Samaritans for confidential support if you're experiencing feelings of distress or despair on 08457 90 90 90 (24-hour helpline).

And you can call the Crisis Call Center at 1-800-273-8255 at any time of the day if you're based in the US.

Hilary Mitchell is the Scotland editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Edinburgh.

Contact Hilary Mitchell at

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