- It’s not an excuse to get out of going places!
When I was a child, my mother used to have to give me notice before we went anywhere, and that doesn’t mean just a trip to the doctors or dentist. If we were visiting family, going to the grocery store, or even doing something really fun, like spending the day at an amusement park or beach, she needed to give me a heads up well in advance. Even as a child, who wanted to go to all these fun places, I needed time to process or I’d have a panic attack. It was so bad that, most of the time, I ended up making myself physically sick with worry. It made my childhood really tough, because just the thought of going over to a friend’s house was traumatizing. So, please, stop saying “You’re using your anxiety to get out of going”, because we really would like to go… sometimes we just can’t.
- You can be fine one minute, and distraught the next.
I was at a movie theater with my husband, and a scene came on that triggered a childhood memory of an event when I was extremely anxious. Just recalling a memory from years prior made me so anxious that I had to stop focusing on the movie and concentrate on breathing slowly & willing myself not to be sick! It happened so fast that I was completely caught off guard, and it ruined my mood for the rest of the day. You don’t always know when it’s going to happen, and that makes even daily outings a challenge.
- Having people downplay the seriousness of anxiety really hurts.
I overheard coworkers chatting about how people can use “anything” nowadays to get out of doing tasks at work, and how they themselves would use anxiety from now on, even though they don’t suffer with it, as an excuse to not have to do certain jobs as well. I was so hurt by this because it’s not something I can just shut off. I know this comment wasn’t directed at me, but when people downplay the seriousness of a disorder that you personally suffer with, it’s going to be taken personally. There’s a huge difference being physically unable to preform a task, and being too lazy to preform a task. Having anxiety doesn’t mean we’re lazy.
- The feeling that you’re holding your spouse back is a constant worry.
I’m very lucky to have a supportive, caring, loving husband, who understands that I’m not always going to be able to do certain things, but that doesn’t mean I don’t constantly feel guilty about not being anxiety-free. If I didn’t suffer from anxiety, we’d do a lot more spontaneous outings, travel further from home, go to large events with big crowds, and enjoy things we don’t normally enjoy. I feel guilty a lot of the time that I’m not giving my husband the opportunities to experience everything he wants from life. He wants to spend time with me, and therefore he misses out on a lot. He never complains, but I still wish I could give him more.
- Opening up takes time… sometimes LOTS of it.
Don’t get offended if we’ve been friends for years and you still don’t know about my childhood, my fears, or even the color of my kitchen curtains! It takes a lot for anxiety sufferers to open up about anything personal. Everyone has their own degree of comfort. Just because you’ve never been inside my house, been personally invited out to lunch/dinner by me or been given even the smallest hint to the contents of of my mind doesn’t mean we’re not close. Suffers of anxiety are very particular about the people they keep close, so just calling you a friend to begin with means a lot more than you probably realize.
- Having control is extremely comforting.
I find that not always knowing when I am going to have an anxiety attack makes me crave control, even over little things. For example, when driving around with my husband, it’s nice to know that I can have control over what music we listen to. If I’m able to decide what we’re listening to, it can be something that I know calms me down, and therefore I’m taking control of putting my mind, body & spirit at ease, which will hopefully result in a less panicked driving experience. Giving that control to someone, even if it’s as simple as allowing them to choose the music, is a very easy solution to a potentially bad outing.
- If you think we’re going to be talking on the phone- forget it.
Ring! Ring! [Insert heart attack here] Haha. When did this become such an issue? We talk daily in person, text on occasion… why not talk on the phone? I’ve wracked my brain trying to figure out a way to describe the amount of loathing I feel when my phone rings, or just why I dread it so much, and I can’t. I just hate it, and a lot of people who have anxiety do, too… so we’re not ignoring you! Text us and we’ll get back to you shortly.
- Your anxiety makes mine 110% worse!
A friend of mine got a text message, looked at her phone and said sadly, “Oh, no!” I repeatedly asked what was going on while she read her message, but got the held up “wait a second” finger, that translates to “I am going to stand here and read this text message for 10 minutes while you’re struggling to breathe, because obviously someone just died a horrific death and I’m being notified via text!” In sheer panic-heart beating so hard it hurts-having trouble seeing straight anxiety, waiting for you to spill what that text message is about is killing us! Put us out of our misery!! If you’re going to pull that stunt, something serious better be going on because a friends replied, “The Dunkin Donuts on Main Street is closing!” does NOT qualify as a “wait a second” finger moment.
- You’re not alone.
Nowadays there are support groups for everything. Finding a supportive group of people has been one of the greatest discoveries for me, an extreme anxiety sufferer, because now I don’t have to explain why I’m feeling the way I do… these groups just understand. Having to not justify why you’re feeling the way you do is so cathartic. These communities will listen to you, help you, guide you & make sure you know you’re not alone. If you’re having issues coping with your anxiety, just need a friendly ear to vent to, or want to make friends with likeminded people, I’d highly suggest researching groups for anxiety suffers. One that I’m apart of is via Facebook & I’ve met so many great people through it! I know that if I need any advice, that someone is there for me. That is a resource more people need to be aware of.