As a woman with anxiety, I can tell you right now, I know that I am not the easiest person to love. Some days are harder than others. Some days I feel as if I am spinning out of control and can’t get anything right. I know that I may not be full of sunshine and daisies but I have people that love me very much, even when I can’t see it myself. Some people understand it because they’ve been there; some people think it’s a figment of your imagination. Whether it’s what you would consider “real” or not, it would mean the world to your anxious loved one if you could take a step back and listen to our needs and apply a few simple actions that would make our world a much easier place to handle. Let’s talk about some simple ways to ease your loved one’s anxiety, shall we?
1. Please for the love of God do not force us to make plans at the very last minute.
Rest assured, we already have our entire day or week planned out before you come up to us with some last minute dinner plans or an outing to a bar with the girlfriends after so-and-so’s latest break-up. It takes a lot for us to get motivated to get out into the world and ready to face other human beings. Please don’t make us have to do that before we’re mentally prepared. More importantly, don’t be offended when we say no.
2. Don’t say things like, “Look at me in the eyes.”
This is definitely impossible for us most of the time. Let’s not make things awkward by me having to openly deny your request for eye contact.
3. Don’t take if offensively if we don’t want to hold your hand.
Our personal bubble is a sacred place. When someone touches us, it can be a suffocating feeling, even if you’re trying to be loving or comforting. It’s nothing against you; we will return the love when we are ready.
4. Understand that small talk is excruciating.
I mean, really. Let’s not settle for those obligatory comments about the weather, what we’ve been up to lately or the scores of the latest football game. Get to the point or be quiet. I truly appreciate the silence much more than the unnecessary chatter.
5. We desperately need some time to recharge after being social.
It is emotionally draining to be around a group of people. Once we’re finally out of that situation, it feels like we have run a mental marathon. We need some down time with silence, solitude and a few days to recoup before we’re ready to face the world again.
6. It’s much easier if you will just make plans for us.
Truly, the least amount of options that I feel I am being forced to choose from, the better.
7. “Meeting the parents” never sounds like a fun idea. Let’s try to avoid this for as long as possible.
We already hardcore judge ourselves, what we say, how we look, and how we act. We will obsess over whether or not your folks approved of us. Let us become more comfortable, and let us prepare. This is a serious thing, and we want to get it right!
8. Don’t volunteer for us to host family members or friends in our home without my consent.
This is definitely something that needs to be discussed beforehand. Our home is our safe place. Don’t invite people into our safe place if we aren’t feeling so groovy that day. It makes it so much harder to entertain when we aren’t at our best.
9. Help us stay on top of upcoming plans/events and their dates so that we don’t stress out as much about having to remember it by ourselves.
We’ll obsess over it anyway but it would just be nice if we feel like we aren’t the only ones worrying about that sort of thing.
10. Fill up the gas tank before you come home so we don’t have to go to the gas station.
People don’t realize how extremely anxious gas stations can make people. The entire experience is filled with possible interactions with other people, remembering pump numbers and what you came inside to get, and trying to hurry so the person waiting for your pump doesn’t get aggravated and honk the horn. It’s really a lot to take in, and none of it is fun.
11. Don’t make fun of us if we don’t feel like speaking through a drive-thru window.
Speaking to others isn’t easy, even if you can’t see their faces. This is a real thing.
12. Offer to go inside a store if it isn’t necessary that we go in ourselves.
The best way to deal with a potentially awkward situation is to not deal with it at all.
13. Don’t send us texts like, “I have a question,” or, “we need to talk about something later.”
This will drive us literally crazy, and we will beat ourselves up trying to figure it out. Don’t do this to ANYONE, for that matter. Ever. It’s just wrong.
14. If there is any bill that can’t be paid online, then pay it on the phone yourself.
If it’s online, then don’t worry- we got you! Please don’t make us speak to anyone on the phone, though. The horror.
15. Don’t leave us home alone when the cable guy or some service person is scheduled to come fix something at our house.
It’s already overwhelming knowing that a stranger is scheduled to come to your house. It’s even more overwhelming knowing that you’ll have to let them in and speak to them.
16. Answer the door if someone is unexpectedly knocking, and we aren’t aware of who it could possibly be.
I know it sounds silly, but this is a life saver. When you have to mentally prepare before you socialize with others, unexpected visitors are not your friends.
17. Ask if we would prefer for you to drive when we’re going anywhere.
Driving can be a lot to handle, as well. (See more about this topic on Reason #27) If we aren’t feeling up to the challenge, then it would be just lovely if you would volunteer to drive instead.
18. Don’t call us if whatever you need to say can easily be sent via text message.
“Sorry I didn’t answer my phone when you called. That’s not what I use it for.”
19. If you know that we’re out of something, then pick it up at the store on your way home instead of asking us to take a special trip to get it.
A lot can happen to us during the day so you never know how we’re feeling until you get there. We could’ve had a hard day, and facing people doesn’t sound so appealing to us. It could end up being the straw that broke the camel’s back.
20. Don’t make unnecessary noises, ever.
The more noises that we hear, the more scattered our brains become. Please don’t add fuel to the fire.
21. Don’t touch us for no reason. I mean, no reason.
Once again — personal bubble, my friend. Do not burst my bubble.
22. If we are standing at a store waiting to check out, then take the initiative to speak to the cashier and pay for our items for us, even if we have to hand you the money.
Again, small talk. Awkwardness. Anxiety.
23. Don’t put the spotlight on us when we’re talking with a group of people by asking us a random question.
We’re really trying very hard to be present but blend in with the scenery. Being the center of a conversation is not on the list of things we’re trying to accomplish here.
24. Always remember the look we give you when we’re in public and are ready to leave.
Just pay attention. You know what look I’m talking about.
25. Take into consideration how long we stay at any given place.
The sooner we can leave, the sooner we can get back to our safe place.
26. Remember that we really don’t like surprises, and definitely don’t talk about a surprise before you intend to reveal it to us.
This is just as, if not more, excruciating than the dreaded “We have to talk” text messages. If you’re going to surprise us with a gift, then just do it. If you’re wanting to surprise us with a trip, then run it by us first before you make plans. We will still be thankful for the gesture.
27. Be extremely attentive when you’re driving us somewhere.
Please, please, please pay attention to the road and watch where you are going. We aren’t in control, and that’s a problem for us. Even if you’re a good driver, we’re still scared as hell about all the possibilities of what could go wrong on this journey. Be aware! That includes no texting and driving!
28. Don’t ask us to entertain someone that you’re speaking with so that you can go do something else.
This only leads to small talk, and it only drains our soul. Just say no.
29. Don’t get aggravated when we ask the same questions over and over again just so we can be sure.
We can never be too sure, and sometimes our insecurities and fears will never silence in our heads. Humor us, if you will, but it makes us feel better.
30. When we think that something is wrong and we want you to go check it out, please be polite and comply, even if you think it’s silly or unreasonable.
Even if that means checking to make sure the door is locked after we’ve already been in bed for over an hour.
31. When we tell you that we’re afraid of something, believe us.
Please don’t force us to do something that completely terrifies us, even if it seems like a ridiculous fear to you. It is very real and traumatic for us.
32. When we’re having a panic attack, please don’t speak to us or touch us.
We know that you’re just trying to help but believe us, we know how we’re supposed to ride this out. Nothing that you say or do is helping. Give us space. Give us silence. Then, give us comfort when we’re exhausted from how draining an anxiety attack really is, and don’t ask questions about it or draw attention to us until we’re ready to talk.
33. Don’t try to be love-y if we’re not feeling it.
I promise you, we’re not trying to be cold or unloving towards you. Sometimes we just need our personal bubble to not be popped. Just because we don’t want to cuddle, that doesn’t mean that we don’t love you very much.
34. Never be afraid of interjecting in a conversation when we are clearly struggling as we’re trying to get our point across to someone.
Like, really, you can see our eyes screaming, “SAVE ME.”
35. Always suggest staying in, ordering take-out and binge-watching on Netflix as an option instead of going out on the town in case we aren’t feeling the night life.
We aren’t hard to please kind of people. The less chaos, the better. We really truly enjoy these times with you much more than in a social setting.
36. When we tell you what we want to order before the waiter comes, then tell them what our order is for us.
We go ahead and tell you what we want so that you’ll do this, and no one ever does! It would be so nice. Why should we have to speak to someone when you could just as easily do it for us? Please!
37. Take the time to acknowledge when we try really hard to be as calm, cool and collected as possible when we have to force ourselves to be a situation in which we’d rather not engage.
It takes a lot out of us to do this. Even if it’s a simple, “thanks for trying today,” that is more than enough for us.
38. Answer our phones for us when an unknown number calls or a number that we don’t recognize.
The unknown makes us nervous. I mean, really nervous. Answering a call from an unknown number is like playing Russian Roulette for us.
39. If we make a mistake, then don’t point it out to us harshly.
We can take constructive criticism but make sure it is worded correctly. One comment taken the wrong way can set off a tidal wave of questions and doubts about ourselves followed by the immense feeling of failure. “Fragile: Handle with Care.”
40. Encourage us when we’re feeling down.
Unfortunately, anxiety and depression pretty much go hand in hand. With fears and obsessions of failure comes the depressing thoughts that become obsessive, too. Make sure we know how you truly feel about it. Point out the positives when we are too far in the dark to see them.
41. When we are ready to talk about everything that’s bothering us, please listen.
It takes a lot for us to finally open up and share our fears and insecurities that we know will sound trivial to anyone else, so when we are ready to express those things to you, don’t take that lightly. All we really want is for someone to listen and to understand.
42. Don’t let us go to bed confused or worried, if you can help it.
Your reassurance means more than you will ever know. If you are able to ease our minds, even in the slightest, then please try.
43. When we’re feeling overwhelmed with things at home, offer to take over some of the chores.
Even if it’s just doing the laundry, that’s one less thing that’s on our minds. We will be forever thankful for you to lighten our load. (no pun intended)
44. Encourage us to do whatever our hobbies we have that help to calm us.
Everyone has their own outlet that helps calms them and puts their thoughts to rest. Whether it’s sketching, painting, writing, crocheting, listening to music, going for a jog, doing yoga, whatever it may be- encourage us to get back to things that make us happy and can settle our busy minds.
45. Make us feel safe in your presence.
We know that not everyone thinks the way that we do. We know that some things we think, say or do are irrational to some. All we want is a safe haven to be found in you, where we are loved and accepted. Always make us feel welcome to express our feelings and needs to you.
46. Stick with us through these trying times, even when we feel like we don’t deserve you.
We are hard to live with. We know this. BUT WE ARE WORTH IT. Beneath the anxiety, we are passionate, caring people with every desire to love. If you can ride this out with us and find who we truly are away from the chaos, then you will be pleased that you did.
47. Inspire us to chase our dreams.
Our anxieties make us believe that if we ever try to achieve a goal that we have for ourselves, then there a million reasons why we will fail. We need you to push us to give it a shot, anyway. We need you to support us on our journey, and even if we do fail the first time, encourage us to try again because our happiness and fulfillment are worth it.
48. Talk to us about the favorite part of your day with us.
Since negativity fills our minds more times than not, we forget to focus on the good things that have happened. Remind us of what we did that made you happy to be there in that moment with us. Bring it to the light so we can see and cherish it with you.
49. Be our backbone when we have to face someone that is treating us poorly.
We can be quite the pushover because we tend to avoid confrontation. When you witness us being mistreated by a stranger or a friend alike, stand up for us. Remind us to stand up for ourselves because we don’t deserve to be put down. Influence us to seek better for ourselves.
50. Most importantly, love us, even when we don’t love ourselves.
That’s all we want.