I think the general, unaffected population have a low grade understanding of the true impact of anxiety. They probably think it’s just feeling a bit nervous, like when you have an exam or a dental appointment. But anxiety can affect your whole life, everything you do, or don’t do, day to day.
Anxiety can leave you trapped in your home, not living, just functioning. Doing what you can to get through each day. Self-soothing behaviours can feel comforting but may seem obsessional when repeated for prolonged periods.
Anxiety makes you predict negatively about the future; that things will go wrong, that people won’t talk to you, that you’ll make a fool of yourself. You may fear going out, as crowds, noise or busy environments leave you tense, on edge, volatile, tearful or angry. The phone rings, you feel fear, terror perhaps at having to answer it… so, maybe you don’t. You go to the supermarket when it’s quiet because the bustle of people distresses you, because you’re less likely to see someone you know, because it’s easier.
You just want to feel safe.