Living with anxiety is incredibly tough. Loving someone with anxiety can be equally as painful, in my different ways. If you love someone who suffers from anxiety, the most you can really do for them is be understanding, and be there when they need support. By doing so, you’re doing more than you even know for the person you love. You need to know that:
1. We get overwhelmed easily
In today’s world, there’s much to do everyday, and so little time in which to do it. A long to-do list may be crippling to a person who suffers from anxiety, especially if it involves meeting with a variety of people and traveling to a variety of places. Anxious people hate to multitask, and will often focus on one problem or issue at a time until it’s completely resolved. By prioritizing our day, we hope to alleviate some of the pressure felt when bombarded with a laundry list of tasks.
2. We burn out easily
Anxious people are usually introverts. Simply being out in public is taxing to their stamina and well-being. At the end of a day’s work, they need time to sit on the couch and zone out for a little while. During this time, they will also often reflect on their day. This can either be a good or bad thing, depending on how their day went. Let them have their space, and once they have recharged their batteries, so to speak, you’ll both be able to enjoy your evening together.
3. We know we’re being irrational
Most of the time, anxious people know they’re getting worked up over nothing. Unfortunately, that’s the nature of the beast. It’s a vicious cycle: We get worked up over something fairly insignificant, then get more worked up at the fact that we got so worked up in the first place. During these times, it’s best to just let the anxiety run its course. Just be there for your loved one until the moment passes; that’s all the assurance they need to know everything will eventually be okay.
4. We panic more when you call attention to it
Like I said, just be there for the person. Asking if there’s “anything you can do” may seem like the status quo, but it simply won’t help. Of course, once you ask that, the person will get more freaked out that there isn’t anything you can do to fix it, and will feel bad that you feel bad, and the vicious cycle will continue. If you want to talk about ways to help during a panic attack, talk about it during a relaxing evening when your loved one’s anxiety has taken the night off.
5. We don’t let go easily
Again, we know we’re being irrational, but when you spill your morning coffee on your important papers, it’s hard to believe the rest of the day will get any better. We know it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy (ie: If we keep looking for bad things to happen all day, we’ll find them), but it’s hard to shake the feeling that “today will not be my day.” Getting yelled at by a boss, or getting cut off on our way to lunch…all of these completely unconnected experiences will pile up throughout a day to make it seem like a conspiracy against our own happiness. Let us vent, and do your best to help alleviate our frustration after it’s all over.
6. We find change difficult
Anxious people are pretty set in their ways. They usually plan ahead in order to prioritize their days, so nothing sneaks up on them. However, life is full of contingencies. For a regimented person, any small change in schedule can be disastrous. If an anxious person had planned to cash his check at lunch, and the bank happened to be closed for its employees’ lunch, he’ll spend the rest of the day worrying that he won’t be able to make it before 5:00 rolls around that afternoon. Being anxious is simply not conducive to today’s busy, ever-changing world.
7. We need for you to listen
We know we’re being irrational, but we just want to be heard. Don’t blow us off. Don’t give us that “you’re just being anxious again” look. Understand that each panic attack is unique, and that if we could help it, we undoubtedly would. We just need you to be there for us in our time of need. Again, listen to our concerns. Talking won’t help much; if we can’t help ourselves, we won’t listen to anyone else. Recognize when it’s best to stay silent and open your arms for us.
8. We appreciate all you do
Knowing we’re irrational, and that we must be a pain to take care of sometimes, we truly to appreciate all the effort you put into loving us. It truly means the world to us that you look past the ugly moments, and focus on the best parts of us. We appreciate that you want to help us, but restrain yourself when you know we’re too far gone. We appreciate you being there when no one else is. And know that whenever you need us, we’ll gladly repay the favor.
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