With all of the info out there about Anxiety and the plight of those suffering from it, you probably think you know how to interact with someone suffering from this disease, but have you ever found yourself in a situation where a friend starts avoiding you or limiting contact with you, seemingly out of nowhere?
Unless you did something terrible and are too much of an ignoramus to realize it, chances are your friend has Anxiety and took a casual comment VERY personally, whether you meant it that way or not. For those of us suffering from Anxiety, it’s extremely difficult for us NOT to take things personally.
What follows is a list of things we wish our loved ones knew:
1. We are not anti-social!
It’s not that we don’t enjoy hanging out, but often doing so comes with so much inner baggage (Will they like what I’m wearing? What if I say the wrong thing? Do they REALLY want me there?) that it becomes easier not to go at all.
2. If we make even the slightest faux-pas we will disappear for weeks.
We’d rather not see the people who witnessed our misstep then risk having to be reminded of it.
3. We are not pessimists!
We are all too aware that our worries border on irrational. This does nothing to quell those worries and neither does try to label us; in fact, labels make it much worse.
4. Relationships, of any kind, are extremely difficult for us.
Rather, they are exhausting! Interacting with someone, especially someone we care about or whose opinion matters to us, is like navigating a minefield in heels; we are constantly trying to avoid emotional explosions while looking good (or at least normal) while doing it.
5. We are only truly at peace when we’re alone.
Or with that rarest of creatures, someone who “gets” us and truly loves us for who we are, Anxiety and all.
6. The phrase “calm down” makes us want to kill ourselves…and you!
If it were possible to simply “calm down” don’t you think we would?
7. We are terrified everyone will find out how bad it is.
And we go to great lengths to hide it, whether it be going to the restroom to avoid taking medicine in front of coworkers or feigning allergies to explain tears in public, we spend A LOT of time stressing about what would happen if our secret got out.
8. Anything can trigger an Anxiety attack.
A coworker once told me I had a big personality; I spent the next three hours trying to decide what she meant and finally ended up calling my cousin in an attempt to decode it before I could relax…kind of.
9. There is nothing about Anxiety that you can tell us that we don’t already know.
We spend a lot of time researching an Anxiety Disorder. A lot. If there’s a paper or a study out about Anxiety, we’ve read it, probably twice so we don’t need you spouting off Anxiety facts that you read on Facebook, we’ve seen that list too, and, most likely, added to it.
10. Sometimes “leave me alone” means “leave me alone.”
We really appreciate you trying to help but sometimes the best thing you can do for us gives us a minute.
11. We take “self-conscious” to a whole new level.
Has a casual encounter ever made you cry? If not, you have no idea what we’re going through.
12. We swear Matchbox 20’s “Unwell” was written for us.
“We know they’ve all been talking about us and it makes us think there’s something wrong…with us.” Sigh.
13. We feel the same way about “Let it go.”
“Don’t let them in, don’t let them see, Be the good girl you always have to be. Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know…”
14. It is nearly impossible to “live in the moment.”
We are constantly either reliving the past or foreshadowing the future, there is rarely an in between.
15. We’re not whiny attention seekers!
We don’t want special treatment of any kind. We know that our Anxiety is our problem, not yours, and we are doing our best to deal with it. In fact…
16. We hate people who use their anxiety as an excuse…
Every time Jason (Ink Master, Season 5) lost a challenge he blamed it on his Anxiety Disorder. Though Anxiety tends to make even the simplest task harder for us, we are still capable of performing them (more often than not) and most of us would rather die than admit we couldn’t do something because of Anxiety.
17. Simple encouragement can go a long way.
Especially for things we constantly struggle with, like making social plans. Sometimes a simple acknowledgment that we’re trying can work wonders.
18. Don’t assume we want help, but ask us anyway.
Sometimes we need to deal with things on our own, sometimes we are in desperate need of help and are afraid to ask. Ask us if we need help with something, and respect the answer.
19. Go easy on the pep talks.
Yes, that kitten holding onto a tree branch with the words “hang in there” scrawled across it is adorable but when we’re in the midst of an Anxiety attack it’s about as useful as a floppy disc. If we could combat our feelings with pep-rally-esq motivational one-liners, Anxiety wouldn’t be a thing.
20. Your problem has nothing to do with ours.
Telling us that you know what we’re going through because you used to hate it when the teacher called on you in class is not only unhelpful, it’s crazier then any thought we’ve ever had (and that covers a lot of ground)!