Please note: The author of this article is not a doctor. Any advice he gives should not be used as a substitute for real medical help. If you suspect you have a medical condition, consult with your doctor immediately.
The hard reality is that sooner or later, your anxiety will cause some relationships to sour. Unfortunately, you aren’t equipped to deal with that fact when you’re already faced with immense stress.
Anxiety and depression are so misunderstood in society. I’m sure if you’ve lived with this problem long enough, you probably have heard things like “you’re overreacting”, “just relax”, or my personal favorite, “it’s all in your head”. You’ll try to explain what a panic attack is and the people around you will ‘think’ they understand what you’re talking about. To them, a panic attack is simply just that; panicking. And while that is a big part of it, for many, myself included, panic attacks are more about the physical sensations you experience. The racing heart, the lightheadedness, the nausea, the dizziness, etc. You feel as though your heart could jump right out of your chest, and that you could faint at any moment. You feel like death is lurking right behind you or that you’ll have a nervous breakdown and go crazy. Other people won’t understand, and trying to make them understand can often feel like a fool’s errand.
It seems like every one who suffers with anxiety will have to deal with it eventually. What happens, is that either you avoid people, causing them to give up on you, or you lash out at people due to your disability. Either way, it isn’t fun, and I know from experience that sometimes breaking up with a friend is even harder than breaking up with a girlfriend/boyfriend. When you grow up with a person, and tell them all your secrets, it’s hard to let those people go, I understand that. Ultimately, what it comes down too, is that if a friend doesn’t understand your problem, than they aren’t really your friend. A true friend would likely be hurt if you snap at them, but as long as they know the severity of your problem, they will at least try to be supportive.
That being said, don’t be afraid to talk to your family or friends about your problem. Again, if they really love you, they will understand, as best as they can, at least. The biggest reason I think so many people who struggle with anxiety or depression commit suicide, is because they feel like a burden on the people around them. They see that their negative emotions are affecting their loved ones. It’s unfortunate really, but I do think the friends and families with a loved one who suffers with this problem can do a lot more to help.
For those who know someone with this crippling condition, don’t assume you know what they’re talking about. You don’t, and you never can. They don’t need or want your sympathy, all they want is someone they can talk too. So be supportive and give them a shoulder to cry on, if need be. Even though the symptoms are a product of the mind, to the person experiencing them, they are very real.
And that’s that. Whether you’re an anxiety sufferer, or someone who knows one, I hope you now understand the important role friends and families play in overcoming anxiety.
Until next time, stay happy and healthy!