The Difficult Struggles That Anxiety Sufferers Want Their Loved Ones To Understand
People who suffer with anxiety often attempt to keep their struggles silent. Facing people’s judgments can make their stress even worse. Even if you know the facts, you may not know the true plights of suffering with anxiety. Here are a few things that people with anxiety want their loves ones to understand.
We Are Aware That Our Anxiety Is Not Always Rational
Having anxiety doesn’t mean we are completely clueless to what is rational and irrational thought. We often realize that what is causing our anxiety makes absolutely no sense. We are capable of understanding this, but that doesn’t change the fact that our subconscious doesn’t want to listen. We want to be able to ignore these stressors, but sometimes that only makes it worse. We need to be allowed to process what is causing our anxiety, and having people judge us for it isn’t going to help. Just telling us that we aren’t being rational is probably the worst thing you could do for us. This leaves room for more anxiety, because trust us we don’t like being concerned with pointless stress either. We realize just how foolish we seem and want desperately for you to understand that. We aren’t irrational people, sometimes our subconscious is just pushing on us in ways that we don’t know how to combat.
Telling Us To Stop Worrying Won’t Work
Just like telling us we are being irrational won’t work, telling us to stop worrying is terrible. These sorts of aggressive and impatient reactions only cause more anxiety. When we feel like the people around us are judging us, we become very unhappy. We often fear that our stress is unwarranted anyways and struggle with our own frustrations. You telling us to just “suck it up” and stop stressing, makes us feel worthless. It makes us question whether or not we are simply failing at controlling something we should be able to control. That fact that you think we can just stop worrying, hurts us deeply.
Asking “Are You Okay?” Is Not Helpful At All
Being there as a comfort is often extremely good for us. Continuously asking us if we are okay, isn’t helpful though. The answer of course is “no, we are not ok.” Sure we realize it’s not the end of the world, so saying “no” to your question makes us feel even more uneasy about ourselves. This is extremely stressful and too many questions can make it even worse on us. We don’t want to be rude to you, but sometimes the anxiety can make us snap. Try to give enough space to allow us to handle what is going on.
Just because we don’t want incessant questions, doesn’t mean we couldn’t use your support. The best thing you can do for someone with anxiety, is to provide a judgment free environment. Make sure that this person realizes that you understand they aren’t doing this on purpose. Don’t make them feel weak because of their anxiety. They are already being hard enough on themselves, trust me. Learning what helps them feel better is a great way to show your support. This way when the attack comes on you can remind your loved one of the little things that help them. This could be something like focusing on their breathing, or listening to some music that calms them down. Learning about their specific needs and helping them get in contact with those things when they are under an attack, is wonderful.
There Are Also Physical Reactions to Our Anxiety
Sometimes we even have a physical “fight or flight” reaction to this fear. This is intensely uncomfortable and sometimes indescribable. It’s not always the same for everyone, but it is always somewhat terrible for everyone who suffers with it. It can cause severe sweating, clammy hands, lack of touch with reality, acute sensitivity to sounds and lights and pretty much any awful sensation that you can think of. Not everyone wants to be touched when they are having an anxiety attack, so making sure to know what they want is important. Some of us react well to the closeness of touch, while others become more uneasy and panicked.
These physical reactions manifest in ways that can sometimes increase our anxiety. We have forced ourselves to rationalize our fears a million times but that doesn’t always work for everyone. Having intense physical reactions like a racing heartbeat, might make us fear the worst. The feelings can be so intense that we attempt to medically figure out if something else is wrong with us. Most of the time we can come to the realization that it is just our anxiety and just because it feels like we are dying, we most certainly will be okay.
Anxiety Is Exhausting
Anxiety is often fueled by large amounts of adrenaline, which causes serious exhaustion. We are not only exhausted emotionally, but physically. Feelings like someone just flopped your body around like a sad little sack of potatoes, isn’t the best thing in the world. We often need rest after coming down from a serious anxiety attack, and may just need some time. Some people want to be alone, while others will feel comforted by your silent presence.
Along with the physical exhaustion we are often emotionally drained as well. Having anxiety is something that we live with and have come to cope with, but that doesn’t make it less upsetting. We are often sad and beaten down after a bad attack, and need a little time to recuperate. Some of us bounce back better than others, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t exhausted.
Anticipating An Anxiety Attack is often a Trigger
The unfortunate fact is that fear of an anxiety attack is a trigger itself. Sometimes this becomes a vicious cycle and makes it very hard to overcome our anxiety. It isn’t uncommon to suffer a few days in a row of severe attacks, because we just can’t seem to get out of our own heads. Knowing that we are in a sensitive state, can often make us anticipate another attack around the corner. Remaining relaxed and attempting not to encounter any activities that may set off our anxiety, is the best course of action. Being compassionate during those times is all that we can ask of our loved ones.
The Hardest Part Is Often How Frustrated We Become With Ourselves
We are often extremely hard on ourselves about our anxiety, which is something that doesn’t make it any better. We often find ourselves wishing that we could control our anxiety. We may even become frustrated because we feel we should be able to overcome this problem. Looking at others who are completely carefree and capable of remaining relaxed, can make us doubt ourselves. Why can’t we be like them? What is so different about us? As anxiety sufferers it is important to learn how to accept that this is NOT our fault. Having anxiety isn’t something that we brought on ourselves, and unfortunately some people are just more sensitive to things than others.
There Is a Difference Between Anxiety and Social Anxiety
Anxiety and social anxiety are not the same thing. Social anxiety is mainly focused on the fear of social interaction, which causes feelings of insecurity. Many people with anxiety might become anxious in social settings, for fear of certain triggers. That does not mean we have actual social anxiety. Some people even find social settings to be a good way to distract themselves from the anxiety. Every case is different and it is true that some people with anxiety also suffer with other issues like social anxiety. There are often a handful of other anxiety related issues that can tag along with anxiety disorder.
The important thing to understand is that not all anxiety sufferers have social anxiety as well. Some of us are completely fine with social interaction, and do not find it to be a trigger. These two problems are completely separate and we would appreciate if more people understood that.
We Are More Than Just Our Anxiety
We realize that being around someone with anxiety can be challenging. Understand that this has nothing to do with you and our reactions aren’t intentionally directed towards you. We may become short tempered, but that is our anxiety speaking not us. We certainly don’t want to push you away or make you feel frustrated with us. Realizing that people with anxiety simply need your compassion and comfort to get through, is very helpful to them. They often need and appreciate you more than you could realize. Just being supportive of them and trying not to judge, does a lot for someone with anxiety issues.
Just remember that people with anxiety are more than just their anxiety. Nobody wants to be defined by one part of themselves, especially not something that they can learn to cope with over time. Seeing your loved one for more than just their stress reactions, is important to them and you. Let them be themselves and you are likely to see parts of their anxiety shedding away. Having someone to love and support us in our worst times, can often help empower us to cope with our anxiety immensely.