1. Anxiety is not anyone’s fault.
Anxiety is not something that anyone wants to experience. It is a chemical imbalance in the brain, and it can be debilitating. Don’t blame your loved one for having attacks. Don’t blame them for having fears that seem irrational to you.
2. Sometimes, they will just want to be left alone.
Even when you are trying to help, or are trying to talk to them to distract them from their worries, sometimes it is best to leave them alone. Even doing simple things like grocery shopping or going to happy hour, could set them off. And simple everyday things can seem incredibly difficult for a person with anxiety. Don’t hustle them to do activities that they clearly aren’t up for at the moment. Just let them be.
3. Telling them that it’s ‘just a phase’ is bullshit.
To have the audacity to tell someone with a mental illness that it is ‘just a phase’ or that they need to ‘move on already’, is frankly disgusting. Do not ever think that this person is being dramatic about their experience with anxiety. And don’t ever think it is something that you can brush under the rug.
4. Medicine will not ‘cure’ them.
Sure, medicine will help the imbalance. It will help with symptoms. It will lessen attacks. But it will not cure this person 100% from this illness. Anxiety is not like having a broken leg. With medicine and crutches, a broken leg can heal fully. Anxiety is much more complicated than that.
5. Panic attacks don’t always happen for a specific reason.
Sometimes, no matter where they are or what they are doing, a panic attack will come in full force. There doesn’t need to be a reason for this. They could’ve been fine five minutes before this. Don’t ask them why they are experiencing this. Just help them instead of questioning them.
6. This is not about you.
When they are suffering, it’s not about your level of comfort when talking about anxiety with them. It’s not about your level of comfort when you see them having an episode. It’s about them. It’s about trying to comfort them when they are in pain. It’s about trying to help them when they feel like they are dying. It’s not about you.
7. They aren’t doing this for attention.
You would be an idiot to pretend you had anxiety just to get attention. They are not doing this for sympathy or for having an interesting topic starter at dinner. They truly would not this wish this on their worst enemy. Give them some damn respect.
8. They are not crazy.
Please, please, do not ever think this.
9. Sometimes, they will push you away.
This isn’t your fault or theirs. But sometimes, anxiety can be too much. And it can be completely overwhelming. They aren’t pushing you away because they don’t love you anymore, they are pushing you away because they need space. And sometimes, they need to deal with it on their own.
10. Anxiety is extremely unpredictable.
It comes and goes. It can leave for years, and come back for no reason. Panic attacks can happen out of the blue. Please be patient. Show compassion. Show empathy. Don’t roll your eyes at them or get frustrated at them. It is not their fault. They can’t help it. And they can’t turn it off. All you can do, is be there for them when they need you.