Here’s What You Do (And DON’T Do) When Someone You Love Has Anxiety

Woman standing in parking lot
Brooke Cagle

Just tell them you are there for them. Don’t say ‘it’ll be okay’ or ‘try to be happier’ or ’think of good things!’ Don’t try to squish this anxiety, don’t try to make it go away. That’s not what they need from you.

Remember that this is not the same thing as ‘having a bad day.’ Remember that this is not the same thing as ‘being a little stressed.’ This is its own demon. It is a complicated, awful, suffocating coat that they can’t take off.

Offer to sit with them, to talk to them, to just be with them. Say ‘I’m here.’ That’s it, sometimes that’s all you need to say. Sometimes that is all they need you to do. They don’t need you to ‘fix’ their anxiety.

Listen to them. Do not worry about trying to understand. If you don’t understand, that is okay. It is not completely crucial that you understand how they’re feeling – but it is completely crucial that you remind them that they’re not alone.

Your instinct might be to tell them to sign up for yoga. To buy them relaxing candles. To take them on a trip. To teach them how to meditate. To talk to them about your cousin and what he did to ‘get over’ anxiety and how you think they should do that too.

It’s okay that you want to help. It’s alright that your instinct is to want to do something active to help them. That’s because you’re human and you care about them. But for once, ignore your instinct. They don’t need your candles, your meditation app, your cousin’s anxiety cure. They just need you to be there, to give them something to hold onto, to let them know that they are not crazy for feeling this way. They just need you to remind them that they’re not alone. TC mark

Kim Quindlen

I'm a staff writer for Thought Catalog. I like comedy and improv. I live in Chicago. My Uber rating is just okay.

Trace the scars life has left you. It will remind you that at one point, you fought for something. You believed.

“You are the only person who gets to decide if you are happy or not—do not put your happiness into the hands of other people. Do not make it contingent on their acceptance of you or their feelings for you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if someone dislikes you or if someone doesn’t want to be with you. All that matters is that you are happy with the person you are becoming. All that matters is that you like yourself, that you are proud of what you are putting out into the world. You are in charge of your joy, of your worth. You get to be your own validation. Please don’t ever forget that.” — Bianca Sparacino

Excerpted from The Strength In Our Scars by Bianca Sparacino.

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