Anxiety needs a new perspective to the population, it’s not just worry, fear, or feeling scared. I’m almost scared to tell people that I have anxiety in fear to get a lecture on how to deal with it or get over it about coming from a person who probably has no factual information on this disorder or has ever been through. Next time you meet someone with anxiety, try to remember that it’s not something someone has any large control over — and if we could have our way, we wouldn’t even have anxiety in the first place.
1. “It’s all in your head.”
I hear this almost daily from relatives, friends, onlookers, and readers. No, it’s not all in the head — in fact, only part of it is mental. Anxiety deals with physical well-being as well and most of the time makes you physically ill. It stops us from having a life where we don’t have to worry about getting sick or a plan an escape route if we do. By saying this, you also make me think you think I’m sick in the head. If you’ve never been through something, how do you know what it is or isn’t?
2. “Oh, I totally get anxiety too when ___.”
Everyone gets some sort of anxiety of course, but the degree often varies from one person to another. Just like getting sick, some people have only had the common cold, while others are bedridden for weeks on end. With an anxiety disorder, the anxiety is daily, if not multiple times a day. Until you experience a full-on anxiety attack, it isn’t the same. By telling a person that suffers with anxiety that you know how we feel in a very hyperbolic sense, you’re basically slapping us in the face. I understand you’re trying to sympathize but equating my panic attack to your onetime fear often feels like you’re belittling something that is very real to me.
3. “Just don’t be scared.”
Frankly, this makes me the most saddened and I usually walk away or hang up the phone. I really wish the person saying this can understand the exhaustion and feelings of a person who has this illness. If you have someone tell you to just get over something that is a big part of your life or hard to deal with on a day to day basis, you would agree. This anxiety isn’t a fictional monster under the bed, it’s a daily occurrence which hinges me from having a semi-normal life.
4. “Oh, just take medication!”
Chances are good you’re most likely not a doctor, you don’t know a person’s medical history. Believe it or not Xanax doesn’t work for everyone. Everyone thinks they know a cure or know someone with the exact same situation as what you’re going through. It’s odd how people have the need to put their input in on a matter they don’t know a whole lot about.
5. “Just deal with it.”
There’s this stigma about anxiety that it’s just fear and being nervous. That doesn’t even come close. (In Iron Man 3, Tony Stark even says he thought he was dying before his suit told him he was having an attack. It’s like that, but I don’t have a suit to reassure me that I’m not, in fact, dying.) Did you know that almost every hour, someone is admitted to the hospital thinking they are extremely ill when it’s actually their first anxiety attack? “Just dealing with” something that scary is well and good when you’re not having an attack, but it’s a much different concept in the throes of an actual attack.
6. “Don’t think about it.”
Okay, I’ll just ignore my heavy breathing, weakness, dizziness, stomach illness, mental exhaustion, heart racing, and a list of symptoms that can go on for pages. By saying this you’re also telling me mental illness is curable and is easier to handle than physical illness. You wouldn’t tell someone with the stomach flu to not think about it, right?