I haven’t taken the time to write on here in a while..Between being genuinely busy and dealing with my own personal crap, I’ve had some struggles feeling motivated.
I wanted to take some time to talk about something I know all too well. The joy of having anxiety. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking.. gee that’s wonderful, I know quite a few people with that same issue. Maybe you’re thinking, well it’s not that big of a problem just stop being anxious. I truly wish it worked that way. Unfortunately it doesn’t, and so I wanted to take a few paragraphs, and talk about how it’s impacted me, and what you should do for loved ones that suffer from this, and or depression.
I’m not an expert on this topic as a whole. I’m no psychiatrist, or therapist, but I can speak from my own personal struggle. So I’m going to try to paint a picture of what it’s like to have anxiety. Imagine waking up, and the first thought that reaches your brain is ” hey, I wonder if blah (insert name here) texted me?” Or ” oh shit, I’m going to be late for work/school.” Those two thoughts are just examples. Sometimes there are dozens of thoughts that take over your mind. From the insignificant, to the extreme. Anxiety leaves nothing to chance! Anyway, imagine those two thoughts consume you until you can’t do anything, but obsess over those things. Like why hasn’t blah (insert name here) texted me? Is something wrong with them? Did I do something? Did I say something? More than likely you’ve done nothing, and that person is fine, but your mind won’t take that slice of comfort. You can’t assume anything, because you automatically think you’re wrong. It’s a horrible feeling, and it’s nearly impossible to turn it off. Let’s go with the second example, “oh shit, I’m going to be late for school/work!” A lot of people would think oh well, I’ll get there when I get there, but not for someone with an anxious mind. The anxiety will make you think everyone is going to be mad at you, or you’ll get in trouble with your boss, something bad will happen because of being late. Of course nothing will really happen, and you’ll be fine. This isn’t true if you’re always late though lol. Things may not be fine then.
You can get the picture from this. Constant negative thoughts take over, and fill you with fear. It’s horrible, and whenever you’re in that moment, it feels like nothing can make you turn it off. The worst thing that I’ve experienced has been panic/anxiety attacks. I know the two names can mean different experiences, but they both fall under the same crappy umbrella. A panic attack feels like you can’t control anything in yourself. You can’t control your breathing, and this causes hyperventilating. Your mind races, and your heart feels like it’s jumping out of your chest. You sweat, and start crying, not just a sob though, but an all out cry. You feel like you’re dying, and because of all the fear, it feels horrifyingly real. Usually the intense feeling lasts for about 5-10 minutes, but you stay shaky and upset for a while. Being alone during a panic attack is probably the most terrifying thing one can experience. It’s definitely easier to go through with someone supportive.
Which brings me to things you can do for someone you love with anxiety. I know that there are dozens of lists, blogs, and forums about this topic, and many of them are especially helpful for someone unaware of what to do. I’m just going to list some things that work for me, but note that these things may not work for everyone.
1. Reassurance– this is by far one of the most important ways to help. A person with anxiety feels insecure about so many things. Offering reassurance can be a helpful tool for an anxious person. It lets us know that you’re there, and not going anywhere just because we let the worry get to us. I know in my experience I tend to let silly thoughts take over. I know deep down they are not true, but hearing someone you love tell you that everything is okay, and that you’re not being annoying can be the best medicine in that moment.
2. Be present– this is painfully important. For a person struggling with anxious thoughts, having a friend or loved one just listen and be there can help tremendously. I know I feel extremely blessed having my BFF always, but especially whenever I’m feeling down or anxious. Just her presence can make me feel so much better.. Being present let’s us know, that you are supportive, and again not going anywhere. We tend to push people away during our struggles, so it’s meaningful when the loved one blows past that push and sticks around.
3. Offer assistance– I know for me I struggle with social anxiety as well, and it helps when someone takes charge in certain situations. Like help with ordering food at unfamiliar restaurants, calling about things, or asking for assistance in places when the anxious person feels too overwhelmed to do so. This is a smaller gesture, and not everyone needs this. I just know for me, when I go into unfamiliar situations I tend to get panicked, and a loved one taking care of those types of things can help me feel comforted.
4. Invite us places– I know this one means a lot to me. I often feel unsure about outings. I’m very socially awkward, so asking a friend to hang out gives me an unprecedented amount of anxiety. It’s obvisouly silly. I know in my heart they will more than likely be happy to see me, but anxiety will always tell you otherwise. Trust me when I say ALWAYS. Just asking us to go places, or even just hang out at home with you will make our hearts, and minds feel at ease.
5. Patience– I saved this one for last, because it’s is above all the most important thing a loved one can do. Having patience is definitely a virtue, and it isn’t easy for most of us. That’s what makes it incredibly important to have when dealing with an anxious person. Speaking from my own personal experience, and I’m going to be entirely truthful. I can be a major pain when I’m having an anxious day. I can be annoying, needy, spaced out, and not my true self at all. This can make other people around me feel aggravated. In my own experience I’ve had people walk away from me, because they lacked the patience to deal with me in those moments. Walking away can seem like the better thing to do in these situations, because it’s understandably difficult to deal with someone in that state, but know that it can break that person apart forever. That piece of hurt sticks around, and gives the anxiety yet another thing to obsess over. Really having patience can give that anxious person some grounding.
We love our loved ones and we want them to stick by us forever. We know that we can be difficult, but just taking some of these helpful hints, and using them can truly mean the world to us. I hope you’ve maybe learned a thing or two, or at least enjoyed the read 🙂