Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That's why it's a comfort to go hand in hand. - Emily Kimbrough
We don’t live in a void.
There is a thing that we are not always aware of, especially while dealing with anxiety - despite what we may think, none of us is a lonely island. There are hundreds of connections between us and other people. Some we underestimate, some we overestimate, some – we’d like to get rid of. The people closest to us, though – friends, family – are a very important factor in how easy or hard it is to live with anxiety. To be quite honest, it is only now that I can really appreciate the support of my loved ones and see the difference it made in how my story played out.
From my point of view…
I was a pretty young teenager when my anxiety attacks started – at first it would have been probably easy to dismiss them as something insignificant. I’m not a person who shares her feelings easily – when I was finishing high-school, others were described as ‘bright’, ‘funny’, and ‘open’, I – mostly ‘cool-headed’ and ‘self-possessed’. There was a time when it felt physically impossible for me to actually ask for help – the fact that I could easily control my emotions has always been a point of pride for me, and then they suddenly started defying that control. And since it was very difficult to ask for help, I’m all the more grateful to my family, who did all they could to get me that help. What did they do – and what can others in this situation do?
The do’s and the don’ts
• DO help you get professional help – I can’t never stress enough how important this was for me – I found a therapist whom I could talk to and not be judged. I changed psychologists three times – don’t be afraid to do that. Trying to talk to someone you don’t feel comfortable with has no sense. Since I was a teen, it was my mother who looked for the therapists and helped me find the right one.
• DO offer support – the simple feeling of certainty that you have someone to go for a hug and a kind word can work wonders.
• DO encourage – to take a few more steps out the door than yesterday, to call someone on your own, to make this short conversations a few seconds longer.
• DON’T push too much – guilt tripping, smothering, trying to minimise your feelings – all of us heard ‘just get over it’ at least once, and this is definitely something a person with anxiety doesn’t need.
• DON’T act like nothing’s wrong – you can’t ‘wait out’ anxiety. It’s not something that will go away if you pretend it doesn’t exist.
1. What is your experience with your loved ones reacting to your anxiety?
2. What would you add to the list?