I’ve been away for a while because things have gone from bad to worse lately. Only in the last couple days have things gotten better.
I’ve been thinking about doing this blog for a very long time, as I believe it can help people, however, I’ve always been somewhat insecure about talking about it. It’s a sensitive issue for most people, and I’m afraid people will see it as my way of complaining about my issues, however, it couldn’t be further from the truth. With a little help, and guidance from my friends, they told me to go ahead and talk openly about my issues with anxiety.
Before I go on any more, these are certainly MY issues. I’m not interested in blaming people for them, despite the fact that I sometimes do as a defense mechanism. I acknowledge the fact that in most situations, I am the problem because most people do not understand anxiety. If people cannot see something, usually they don’t believe it. In my experience, this is a fact. Even when something is explained, most people still have issues understanding or believing. As I’ve said, this post is about trying to help people in the future on the sensitive issue of anxiety.
Anxiety, what it is in my experience:
For me, anxiety is an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion induced by stress usually. In my life, most of my anxiety came from things not going as planned. If I put a lot of effort into planning something and it ended up exploding in my face for whatever reason, I would have a tremendous panic attack. Things have always been, and continue to be this way for me. Anxiety stifles my breathing, makes me lightheaded, gives me tunnel vision, often it nullifies my ability to think rationally, and almost always it makes me very sleepy after a big panic attack. Overly negative people have also always been a trigger to my panic attacks, as well as people over reacting to something I say (like taking a joke seriously). This is a part of being unable to control my surroundings, which is something people with anxiety have issues dealing with. They think they need to be able to control everything, even things well beyond their control. I’ve been in relationships, and friendships with people who don’t understand, this is my attempt at helping people understand not just for me, but other people who suffer from the same thing.
Being in a relationship with someone with anxiety:
I guess the first thing to mention is you should be honest no matter what. When people with anxiety catch you in a lie, they will forever think you’re lying to them, besides, there’s no point lying in a relationship to begin with. It’s unhealthy. Communication is definitely necessary for both parties, particularly the one suffering with anxiety. It’s best to talk about potential triggers of panic attacks and ways you can both avoid these triggers together, this requires a fair level of understanding from the less anxious party, as you have to think how things can affect your significant other. It’s hard to imagine what they’re going through, but think of it like this: The more anxiety we experience, the more damage it does to us, potentially taking years off our lives. Not to say that you’re killing anyone by triggering a panic attack, but you’re doing more damage than it seems, and most people with anxiety are too afraid to tell you, especially if you’re their significant other. To be fair, most people have an inability to see what’s wrong, so talk about it.
A lot of relationships are one sided. Most unsuccessful relationships, I can say from experience, are unsuccessful because one person has to do most of the work. Factoring in anxiety, if you’re the one with anxiety AND you’re also the one doing all the work, you’re going to have a really hard time.
In my experience I was in a relationship with a girl that lived about 2 hours away, and I bused out all the time to see her, but she never bused out to see me, past a certain point she didn’t even drive out to see me even when she could. This alone caused a lot of unneeded anxiety having to bus around so much Occasionally I’d have to bus to work early in the morning, and sometimes she’d request me to come out at very late hours of the night, sometimes impossible hours, in that the buses literally had already stopped running. To any average person, they’d just say no and be done with it, but to someone with anxiety they freak out because presenting them with an idea that they would consider, but can’t because of extenuating circumstances, they overreact. Like I said, we want to control things. SO thinking about what I said from my experience, you should consider both working together. Putting too much pressure on one person is enough to exhaust them, let alone someone with anxiety.
As I’ve said, communication is key, however, I should elaborate that FAIR communication is key. This means no pointing fingers. I’m guilty of doing this, as I’m sure many people with anxiety are. We tend to point fingers when experiencing overwhelming anxiety, or when we’re in a panic attack. Though the worst thing you can do when someone is having a panic attack is ignore them. Just change the subject and give them a bit more time to think before responding, make sure they’re okay, but don’t treat them much differently either. Just maintain a calm setting and avoid arguments even when the person experiencing the attack seems hostile. It will pass. Often times we say things in panic attacks we almost instantly regret. I can’t explain the science behind it, but I’ve personally said some hurtful things to some people when having a panic attack, I suspect it’s a defense mechanism. People with anxiety tend to push people away, especially when people get too close. Work together by talking about it. If something is compromised, work it out as a team. When things get rough, wait it out. The bad episodes pass and it’s best to weather the storm together. Encourage seeking help in the mental health sector, be there for them through the long mental health process, it’s a life lesson for both of you. All storms pass, and I like to say: There’s always bomb shelters in shit storms. And there’s nothing someone with anxiety needs more than having someone there for them through the good and bad. Too many times have we been abandoned by people, or we’ve pushed then away when things got rough. Finding someone that is willing to stick by you through the hard times is something I KNOW we all cherish.
If you’re early in a relationship with someone with anxiety, don’t rush things. Give yourselves enough space to go at a comfortable pace. Don’t be too emotional or overreact (or pretend to be offended,upset,etc.) with someone with anxiety early on, they may push you away before they want to just because they’re afraid you won’t be able to handle them at their worst. Give yourselves air to breathe. Think of anxiety in this case like the Sims. In the Sims you can give your characters a list of tasks to do, this list can get rather long, however, usually something goes wrong with the Sim and they decide they want food instead, or they break the toilet again. This can be related to rushing into a relationship because you are giving yourselves so many tasks so early on, and preparing for a long future when you don’t know what’s going to happen between now and getting married, particularly the thought that you might not even get that far.
Sure, it’s nice to think about and talk about but it’s overwhelming to people with anxiety to think years ahead, often times it’s hard for us to think days ahead, and as I’ve said, in my experience I try not to make plans because my panic attacks are most frequently induced when things don’t go as planned. Most relationships don’t go as planned, that’s part of the fun. Carpe diem as they say, seize the day, seize the moment. Living in the moment is usually better than dreaming of the future anyways. Relationships are not about the destination, they’re about the journey.
Seems hard? It’s not:
Most of the things I’ve talked about are actually basics of most successful relationships, just in more depth. Communication, working together, taking things slow, these are all things most people should consider anyways, but if you’re in a relationship with someone that suffers from anxiety, these are a few great pointers to consider when having to go through the rough times, but you’ll find that it’s worth it. We seem complex because most people don’t understand, but anything that stresses most people out just stresses us out significantly more. Nothing is particularly unrealistic, in fact, pampering should not be a way to deal with someone during a panic attack, as psychologically it could have the reverse effect.
I’ll be working on more blogs about anxiety as it is an issue I have to deal with every day, and I’d like to help people that have to deal with it as well. I’ll be talking to others with similar issues to site them in future anxiety blogs, also I’ll be writing one about break up’s from the perspective of the person with anxiety, as well as a blog about being friends with someone with anxiety. I hope some of these pointers help, please share this with anyone you know that has to live with anxiety in hopes that it may help them.