Anxiety disorder is more common than we might believe. Do you know of someone who is prone to bouts of anxiety, fear and worry for no apparent reason? Does someone around you become a bundle of nerves without a warning? Is a friend of your panicking over something which may not look like a big deal to you at all?
If you shook your head with each of the above statements then it is very likely that the person you had in mind may very well be suffering from an anxiety disorder. Following are some of the things that someone with anxiety issues would like to communicate with people around them. However, they are unable to do so because their anxiety becomes an obstacle.
“It sneaks up on me.”
You do not decide to go to bed and wake up next morning feeling anxious. It just creeps up on you out of nowhere. One moment you are perfectly fine, going about your day as planned. By the end of the same day, you might be huddled on your couch unable to overcome the wave of anxiety or panic which seemed to have engulfed you all of a sudden and without a warning.
“It doesn’t go away overnight.”
A pep talk will not raise an anxious person’s spirit and neither can you expect them to ‘shake it off’. Dealing with anxiety disorders requires therapy, self-help techniques and in some cases, medication. It may take weeks and even months before someone finally shows improvement.
“Don’t treat me like I am made of glass.”
It is nice to lend your support to someone going through a tough time like this but coddling them is an entirely different thing and you should definitely avoid doing that. Making allowances for them makes them feel even more terrible because they believe that their anxiety is making people around them uncomfortable. And that is the last thing you would want for someone with an anxiety disorder to think!
“I would love to hang out but I don’t think I can.”
It’s not that people with anxiety issues hate company. They would love to be out and about or simply hang out with a bunch of their friends. But, their growing sense of panic or worry makes them physically unable to do so. They don’t hate being social. They just can’t be.
“Panic attacks are scary.”
Imagine that crossing the street makes you feel terrified. The loud noises, the bustling cars and people passing by chattering about all makes you feel terrified for reasons you don’t even know. Now, associate this terror with physical symptoms like nausea, exhaustion, sweating and hot flashes. This is what a panic attack feels like. Only in actuality, it is ten times worse.
“I am exhausted.”
Anxiety takes a physical toll on your body. There are days when you simply cannot even gather enough energy to get out of bed and go about your routine. Constantly thinking about the worst case scenario, suppressing your feelings and putting up a brave front for the sake of others can be emotionally and physically exhausting.
“My anxiety is different from your friend’s sister’s cousin’s anxiety.”
Anxiety comes in different shapes and sizes. Two people you know may not be the same type of anxious and you should not relate one to the other. Some people feel anxious all the time, others have panic attacks more frequently and some feel anxious only in social situations.
Remember, your job isn’t to try and ‘fix’ someone who is feeling this way; your job is to be their support when they need it the most. Ask fewer questions and just ‘be’ there more.