Living with anxiety is really difficult. We always manage, but it’s something that we deal with every single day. And while we know it’s also hard for the people in our lives, there are always things we just wish you knew and understood about having anxiety. Here are some of them:
1. Anything can trigger our anxiety. Literally, anything. Rational or irrational.
2. There isn’t always a reason for our anxiety. It isn’t your fault, either. So please don’t assume that. Sometimes, something will trigger it and sometimes we just wake up anxious.
3. We are not pessimistic or antisocial. Our anxiety is just causing us to worry and sometimes we just need some time to calm ourselves down.
4. Don’t be surprised if we drop off the face of the Earth. When you witness us at a moment of heightened anxiety or even an anxiety attack, we sometimes will want to disappear and withdrawal ourselves. Seeing people who witnessed our “mess up” will only remind us of it. We’re embarrassed. Please, reach out and let us know it’s okay. Because we probably won’t.
5. We can’t tell you what we need. Seriously. We’d rather spend our time curled up in a corner for hours before asking you to be there for us. Often times, we can’t even tell you exactly what it is that we need. So, just be there and be present for us. Be supportive and reassuring.
6. We take “self-conscious” to the extreme. Ever cried while trying on clothes in a store? How about cancelling plans because of how you looked? Have you ever had a completely casual run in that made me cry and replay it in your head for a week straight? Hello, it’s me, your friend with anxiety.
7. Telling us to “calm down” or to “let it go” is completely useless and unhelpful. Don’t even do it. Just be there for us.
8. This is not for attention. Stop. Do not take it there.
9. When we are alone, we are at peace. Or with, if we found the rarest gem of them all, someone who truly “gets us” and accepts us for who we are, anxiety and all.
10. Relationships of any degree are difficult for us. Really, they’re exhausting. Especially if you are able to break down our walls and become close to us. It’s pretty much like trying to walk across a pit of quicksand in stilettos; constantly trying to avoid the spot that will emotionally drag us down and drown us. If we become close to you, we really invest part of ourselves into the relationship. We will give you everything in us. But, we will constantly wonder and question if we are important or mean anything to you. It won’t even be because of anything you’re doing; that’s just how our anxiety brain works. We constantly will question if we are doing the right thing or saying the right thing. Please, no matter how many times it takes, assure us that we are important. Tell us what we mean to you and remind us that you care. You have no idea how badly we need to hear it. And with this, please be delicate with our feelings. Chances are if we let you in, you also hold the power to break us too. What might seem like a insignificant action or “not a big deal” to you might be something that sends us right down the quicksand.
11. Positive and encouraging words or gestures can go a long way. This is especially true when it comes to things we consistently struggle with. It helps show and reassures us that you care. Because, no matter how many times you’ve “been there” for us, we are constantly questioning if we are worthy and if we are enough.
12. When we do something out of our comfort zone, we will feel proud of ourselves. And it’s nice to know that you’re proud of us too! It might seem like something small and insignificant to you, but believe me, it’s like moving a mountain to us.
13. If you tell us that you’ll be there for us, please be there for us. Sending us a gif of a fluffy puppy holding a sign that reads “it will be okay” is not going to help and be pretty useless in the midst of an anxiety attack. If we have reached out to you, which as stated above is extremely difficult for us to do, be there in whatever way you can. It takes a lot out of us to be able to ask for help. We might not say it in so many words, but we really need you.
14. You’re not going to understand. No, you don’t “totally get” what we are going through because of that one time your 3rd grade teacher picked on you or when your mom criticized that dress you wore to that dance. Anxiety is, oftentimes, absolutely crippling for us. Sometimes we can’t sleep, we can’t eat, or even leave the house. So, don’t try to “get it”. As said before, just be there for us and support us.
15. Understanding that anxiety is not our fault because it isn’t something that we can control means the world to us. Now, that’s something you can understand! Really, you have no idea how much easier that makes it on us. It helps us not worry that you’ll judge us or not like us anymore because of it. It also shows a great deal of support that will likely reduce the anxiety we are feeling and going through!
Hopefully, you found these tips helpful! If you have a friend that suffers from an anxiety or panic disorder, please educate yourself. It won’t only be helpful to your friend, but it will benefit you as well. Anxiety is something that is more common than most people would likely think. But if we educate ourselves and open up the discussion, we can help our friends and help eliminate the stigma!
I hope you all have a beautiful Monday, it’s going to be a great week!