“You’re being ridiculous.”
“Why would you even think that?”
These are probably things you’ve heard many times before, if you suffer with an anxiety disorder and sometimes it can get so frustrating you want to flip a table.
I understand that people who don’t worry about things all the time don’t understand the effects anxiety has on someone. I get that from the outside it can look like nothing is wrong. But some days I don’t feel like I can actually leave the house, for fear something bad is going to happen in my absence or when I get outside.
So here are a few things I’d like people on the outside to understand about the issue:
We can’t turn it off
Wow, I really wish we could. I mean, I definitely don’t want to be stressing about something I did four years ago, or a potential event that probably won’t even occur. If we could simply turn our anxiety off and not feel it, don’t you think we’d have done it by now?
We’re not being difficult
When I get worked up about doing something or going somewhere I’m not being difficult on purpose, I simply feel like I can’t enjoy myself in that situation – and trust me if I’m forced to go I won’t be having a nice time, you won’t be having a nice time and we may as well have just gone with my gut instinct.
We are not control freaks
What someone mistakes for being a control freak, is simply anxiety wanting to know every little detail about what we’re doing. We need times, dates, locations. We need to know everything so we’re absolutely prepared. Spontaneity is something I truly wish I could embrace, but if I know I have no way home from somewhere or aren’t prepared for it, I can’t go through with it.
Catastrophic thinking is the WORST
So one minute I’ll be thinking about what kind of kitchen I’d like in my new home and the next I’ll be thinking about how my incessant patch shopping is going to prevent me from getting a mortgage and therefore a home and Jamie will leave me and I’ll be single and alone forever. Or how my headaches recently definitely mean I have a brain tumour and I’m probably going to die. Those with anxiety have an excellent talent for jumping to the worst conclusion and sometimes it can be a real downer but it’s just how our brains work.
We obsess over everything we say and do
Trust me, if we had a conversation recently that means we’ve probably thought about it later and called ourselves an idiot for some reason or another. We obsess over every minute detail, and my anxiety personally tries to (and sometimes does) convince me that everyone hates me, I’m rubbish at everything I do and people don’t really want me around.
I need to know I’m definitely wanted at a social event
You know those casual throwabout invitations to things, yeah they don’t cut it when you have anxiety. I need a solid ‘do you want to come to this thing?’ invitation and if you ask me after I’ve overheard you talking about it with someone else I’m going to automatically presume I’m not really wanted and probably won’t come. I spent half a year at work only going to sit out at lunch with people if they specifically asked me, and if they didn’t I’d just stay inside presuming they didn’t want me to sit with them that day. It’s any wonder I have friends at all.
I know these things apply to a lot of people suffering with anxiety out there. People try to belittle it but hey, when I can’t breathe while having a panic attack it’s definitely an issue.
If you don’t suffer with anxiety but know someone who does then simply try your best to understand, talk with them about what makes them feel anxious in whatever situation you’re dealing with and try your best to support them through it.