The unfortunate reality of mental illness is that it affects not only the individual who is dealing with it, but it also affects the people who interact with that person. It’s easy to lose patience with someone who is battling an anxiety disorder. It can also be difficult to understand what a person is going through if you haven’t dealt with it yourself. As a person with more firsthand experience with anxiety than I can keep track of, and as a friend of several people who suffer from anxiety, I hope this piece helps others understand what we go through on a daily basis.
We appreciate you more than you’ll ever know. We don’t take a minute of our time with you for granted, because nothing lasts forever. Even if there is no evidence that you’re starting to become annoyed or dissatisfied with us, we might assume that it’s the case. That’s why we might check in often to see if we’re still on good terms. Please try not to become too annoyed at us for that. We just want to make sure that we’re not going to lose the people that we care about the most. We’re not just concerned about how we benefit from your company, though. When you’re in a bad mood, so are we. We want to make sure that you’re okay when you’re feeling down. Even when you tell us that you’ll be fine, we might not believe you. After all, sometimes we tell people that we’re fine when we aren’t because we don’t want them to worry about us. Our anxiety isn’t selfish.
Even if it’s only for a short amount of time, uncertainty wrecks havoc our minds. We might have a plan on how to handle each possible circumstance that can come out of an uncertain situation. We might expect the worst, but we probably won’t accept it. We might go out of our way to try to “correct” an issue that doesn’t yet exist, just to clear the uncertainty of how it’ll all go down. We feel terrible when this causes the issue to get worse. Not having the answers that will help us handle a situation properly might cause our stress to peak for days, or even longer.
Lastly, we know that everyone gets stressed sometimes. Who hasn’t freaked out over a final, or over-prepared for an interview? We’re not invalidating your struggles- in fact, we emphasize with you. With that being said, we want you to understand that for us, stressful situations can make it seem like our whole lives are falling apart. Sometimes, it’s all it can think about until the stress passes. We might shut down, isolate or cease to be productive until the triggering situation is over. We might even act impulsively. Although these might seem like overreactions to simple things like a write-up at work, we promise we aren’t purposely seeking attention.
We hope you don’t see us as a burden, because we love you and are so fortunate to have you in our lives.