By definition, anxiety is a disorder that “causes nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying” In reality, anxiety is so much more. Anxiety is the pit in your stomach that twists and turns at uncontrollable rhythm, that will not go away, that makes it impossible to eat, and makes you vomit when you attempt to fuel your body. Anxiety is struggling to control your heavy breathing when hyperventilating over a nerve-wracking situation.
Anxiety is feeling alone in a crowded room because you can’t concentrate on anything but your nerves. Anxiety is the tears that fall with and without reason at any given time.
Anxiety is being unable to assume anything but the worst possible outcome for any uncertain situation. Anxiety is overthinking everything. Anxiety is questioning your worth and rarely believing in yourself. Anxiety is hating your fear and wanting to escape it.
I am a fairly normal, generally genuinely happy woman. I have a great life, great friends, a great family, and with all of those things, great anxiety. Unless you were around to witness one of my few public breakdowns, you’d probably never suspect that a girl like me could feel such darkness. But sometimes I do. I’m not a broken person. No one is, really. I’m not a sobbing, anxious mess all the time. Just every now and then. Everyone has their issues, and anxiety just so happens to be mine. These are some things to know when dating someone affected by anxiety.
1. I’m afraid to fall in love.
Most people are, but anxiety heightens that fear. When I love, I love deeply. I try to stop myself, in fear of what will happen if things go sour, but when it comes down to it, I love with my heart and not my brain. I fear falling in love with you. I don’t want to. I have a love/hate relationship with the way it makes me feel.
When I’m with you, my heart beats so fast. I smile constantly. Nothing feels better than being tangled up in you. I’m happy, and I love that feeling. But that happiness is something I fear. You control that happiness. You provide me with it. I fear that I don’t deserve your love and affection. I fear that you’ll change your mind, and the love and happiness I experience with you will be yanked from underneath me. I fear the dark place where I will end up if that happens. My fear of love stems from a failed relationship that once turned me into a mess.
I cringe when I think of the anxiety and heartbreak that caused me. I don’t want to fear love, and I don’t want you to have to pay for someone else’s mistakes and carelessness. All I ask is that you play no games with me. If you don’t really like me, don’t act like you do. Don’t allow me to believe this is more than it is. Be honest with me from the beginning, so I won’t fall apart at the end.
2. I worry that you won’t understand or accept my anxiety, so I often hide it from you.
I accept that I have anxiety, but I sometimes feel ashamed of it. I want you to see the best of me, but my anxiety makes me feel so weak. I don’t want you to think I’m overdramatic. I don’t want you to scold me for overthinking everything. I can’t help it. I will act strong because I want to be the amazing woman you think I am.
I don’t want you to have to see the side of me that is so dark. No one needs that kind of negativity, so I don’t just hide it from you, but everyone unless I really, really need help. I know that you probably will accept and love me regardless, but I don’t want to burden you with my fears. I’ll come around to lean on you, but I don’t ever want you or I to feel that your main value to me is being my shoulder to cry on. You are much more than that to me.
3. You bring me light in the darkness.
Anxiety isn’t something that can necessarily be fixed. I don’t need someone to fix me. I’ve come to terms with the fact that anxiety is something I must learn to live with, and over time, I’ve gotten better at it. But it’s still hard. When I’m crying, hyperventilating, and experiencing the agony that is anxiety, your touch, love, support, and arms wrapped around me provide me with relief and make me feel better. You’re the person I’ve chosen to open up to.
You’re the person I’ve chosen to love. I’ve chosen to trust you with my heart, and for someone with anxiety, that is one of the most difficult things in the world. Know that I trust you. Know that you being there for me does matter. I wouldn’t ever put the pressure on someone to be my only escape from anxiety, but your love does help me. Your love has shown me that there are things so much more powerful than anxiety, and I thank you for that.
4. You will see me have an anxiety attack.
It will scare you. Anxiety attacks don’t happen all that often. On a normal basis, my anxiety will surface in the form of me voicing my nerves and overthinking. But it’s highly possible that you’ll see me have an anxiety attack. It won’t be pretty. It will upset you to see me like this. I will cry. I will sob. I will vomit. I will hyperventilate. I will be unable to eat. I will be unable to feel joy from things that usually bring me joy. I won’t seem like me. Know that this is temporary. I will be okay. It won’t last long, I will make it through this, and I will love you even more for standing by me with your endless love and support.
5. I worry about you.
I’m not your mother, but I do think about your safety. The thought of something happening to you makes me feel sick to my stomach. When/if you forget to let me know you made it home safely after a late night, I get irrationally nervous that something’s happened to you. I care so much for you and as much as I hate worrying, I can’t help it. Even though I worry, know that I trust your judgment and I trust you to take care of yourself.
6. Your happiness is so important to me.
I try to make you happy just as I try to make myself happy. I never want to burden you with my sadness or nervousness, and I fear that I will. If you ever feel that way, please don’t be afraid to tell me. I’d do nearly anything for you, and I find joy in doing things that put a smile on your face. Please don’t ever hesitate to tell me if my anxiety affects your happiness.
7. I’m an emotional mess when I’m hungover.
I’m great and super fun when I’m drinking, but the morning after sucks. I get anxiety almost every time I’m hungover, 7. 8. 9. as many people do. It’s mostly nervousness in my stomach and is pretty manageable, as my attention is fixated on my other hangover symptoms, but I can get pretty clingy and sad when I’m hungover. Just an FYI.
8. I get sad sometimes for no reason.
I’ll be totally fine one moment, then the next, I’ll be on the verge of tears. It’s not often that I cry from anxiety, but sometimes the stress that I feel on a daily basis sneaks up on me when I least expect it, and I may break down. Sometimes I just need a quick cry and then I feel back to normal. Don’t worry about me in this situation, if you’re around, a hug will help me through this.
9. Most importantly, know that I am here to support you in your darkness, too.
Just because I have my own demons doesn’t mean you can’t turn to me with yours. I want to help you through your hard times, too. I’m here for you no matter what, and would do anything for you, anxiety or not because as your girl, I’m here for you good, bad, and ugly, just as you are for me. My anxiety is a small part of me. I am more than my anxiety. I am kind, loving, generous, caring, fun-loving, and happy. If you date me, I ask for your patience, love, and support, and I’ll promise you the same.