Why is it so hard to explain anxiety to other people? I feel like I do a pretty good job of communicating my thoughts and feelings, especially when I’m having an attack but people just don’t get it.
When I first started experiencing anxiety I was in the fourth grade. Every summer from then on, I spent a little too much time inside my head thinking about the end of the world or my own personal death. I wasn’t involved in any extra curricular activities so that allowed me to just go there. I don’t really know how I started fixating on that but it just kind of happens. Just like when you get to that weird part of Youtube. You just keep clicking stuff and suddenly you’re watching a 2 minute clip about Bob Saget and his relation with North Korea. You’re just there!
Eventually my anxiety started coming to the surface. I was managing it.. or suppressing it well enough till my sophomore year in high school. My mom was bothering me about my grades and it just kind of happened. I thought I was having a heart attack actually. My chest started to tighten up, my arms were numb, I couldn’t breathe, I was going pale. In my mind I was dying. It was awful.
I sought out therapy sometime after that. I made a point to let my doctor and therapist know that medication was something I did not want to turn to. **Mind you, this was a personal choice for me. I have nothing against prescription drugs I just really wanted to try everything I could before having to use them. ** I learned some breathing exercises, talked about my family issues, figured out what puts me on edge and also what makes me feel calm and relaxed. I went to therapy for about 6 months and it helped me out a lot.I haven’t returned since, but there are times in my life when I probably should have.
My anxiety fluctuates and I feel like that’s pretty normal. I have my own personal triggers like going to the doctors, thinking about death, being late, etc. Sometimes I’m just on edge and other times I’m having full blown faux heart palpitations and trying to get a handle on my breathing. It really just depends…but the good news is that I know how to deal with it.
It’s 2017 and I still feel like people don’t understand what it’s like to live with anxiety. As much as I hate/love social media, I think it has definitely played a part in normalizing the whole thing and simply warping it into something it’s not. In my friend group I don’t have to explain myself because we all suffer from some form of anxiety. I don’t feel like I need to explain myself to others but when I start to date someone new or have been involved with someone for awhile, it’s kind of something that has to be talked about.. or at least I think so.
My problem is that people I’ve dated in the past have two responses to my anxiety. They either don’t know how to deal with it and don’t want to talk to me about it because they don’t understand it. Or they are on the opposite side of the spectrum and think they’re going to be my savior. And it’s not as literal as it sounds but I have to simplify it for the sake of your attention.
So of course the latter is obviously an issue. I don’t know what it is about other peoples anxiety that makes everyone so uncomfortable. It’s such a natural thing. We (the people who are experiencing it) can’t ignore it. So having to be with someone who would rather look the other way is damaging. This is something my ex (W) would do and I eventually confronted it. He said that he didn’t know how to help me and it made him feel powerless so he didn’t like talking about it. Sounds like a personal problem dude. But all bias judgments aside, the best thing you can do for someone with anxiety is to be there and listen. Be available to lend an ear or to just physically be there. And no this isn’t you saving us. This is just you being a good person, friend, or partner.
The reality is that our partners and friends must realize is that they do play an important role in helping us through these episodes, moments, panic attacks, etc. You are appreciated and you can help us, but pretending it doesn’t exist or feeling that you are the end all to all bad thoughts is definitely not the route to take.