Anxiety disorders are no fun for anyone. Most people don’t understand what it’s like to be someone who suffers from one. They come without warning and without reason. As I am writing this, I am awake at an ungodly hour due to this stupid battle my mind is having with itself.
Let me help those of you who do not understand what this illness is like: At random moments, I will get this building worry and fear that something isn’t right. Everything could be just perfectly fine, but my mind will trick itself into believing that something is wrong. It will convince itself that my life is falling apart. I will worry about one thing one minute and talk 90 to nothing then start to worry about another thing. My mind constantly switches back and forth and will convince itself that things are worse than what they really are. All the while I’m trying so hard to calm myself down, but it is impossible. It will send me into a depression. A depression that causes me to hate myself for being so crazy and irrational at times. This depression is the worst part. It causes me to want to space myself from the world and everyone around me. It causes me to feel alone with my illness, and it will cause me to be too terrified to talk those that are closest to me about what it is that I need from them. I feel needy, and I’m repulsed. But I can’t help it.
The hardest thing is for me to find peace with myself during the depression stage. Most times, it switches back to worry and will keep me up all night. Staying up all night causes me to feel irritable the next day, which in turn causes those around me to steer clear. Which in turn causes me to go right back into depression and battle myself for being mentally ill.
You see, there’s something those of you who don’t suffer from anxiety need to understand: WE CAN’T CONTROL IT. No, it doesn’t make us crazy. We don’t need you to tell us that we are acting crazy. We are already well aware of this, and telling us that will only make our condition worse. It will come at the most inconvenient times. When it happens, just please be patient and understanding with us. The attack will eventually pass, and when it does, we’ll be back to normal. The worst thing you could do is bring up anything we were previously worrying about. Doing so will only trigger another attack. Understand that it’s you and us vs. the illness. We hate it, you hate it, we’re on the same team here. The best thing you can do during an attack is just listen, and know that there are times we need you to hold us, and times we need you to leave us alone. Know that sometimes you’ll be the trigger for the attack. Don’t take it personal. And please, for the sake of humanity, don’t tell us that we’re overreacting, that we need to calm down, or that worrying isn’t going to make anything any better. If we could stop worrying, don’t you think we would have already?
Dating someone with an anxiety disorder isn’t easy, at all. It requires giving that person a lot of attention that you normally wouldn’t have to do. That doesn’t mean the sufferer constantly needs you to be stuck up his or her butt 24-7, but it does mean that when he or she is under attack you need to be there.
If someone you love is having an anxiety attack, ask them what they need. Most of the time they know what they need from you to help make it better, but they’re too scared to tell you. Let them know that you genuinely want to help in any way that you can, and be okay with it if they tell you nothing and to just listen. Get to know their illness better. Everyone’s anxiety disorder is different. Try to understand what it’s like to have absolutely no control over your mind, and be there for that person. They need you most when they feel as though they have turned on themselves.