[Disclaimer: anxiety is different for everyone, so these statements might not apply to everyone. This does not make the experiences mentioned in the article – which we gathered from people who have experienced anxiety – any less valid.]
1. Please stop telling me to “just not worry about it”
That’s exactly my illness. I’m bad at “just not worrying”. If I could I would have done that a long time ago.
2. I’m trying really hard, do not dismiss my efforts.
It’s exhausting to feel frightened and worried and scared most of the time. The fear is pushing out the real me at times, and I really hate it. I’m trying so hard, and don’t tell me I’m not because you probably do not fully understand what it’s like.
3. Do not take it personally if I’m frightened.
When you have anxiety and you’re feeling particularly bad, it’s often not anyone’s fault in particular. The same situation sometimes does trigger the anxiety, and sometimes it doesn’t. “You might have triggered it, but I’m usually not blaming you for it.” – Ellen.
4. I’m sorry if I repeat myself quite often.
It just means that that’s the thing that’s worrying me most at the moment. I know I repeat myself, but it sort of helps saying these things out loud. As anxiety can “lock me in my own thoughts” with worry, bringing it out bit by bit sometimes lightens the fear ever so slightly. I’m so sorry if I’m annoying you, but if you want to help me, I usually just need someone to listen at those moments.
5. My coping methods will be different in different situations.
The thing that helps the first time, might not do anything useful the next time. Again, we would really appreciate patience.
6. Consent still matters (as always!)
“No” still means “no” even when I’m experiencing severe panic and/or anxiety. Don’t force things on me.
7. It’s more than just stressing over a test.
I wish that people understood that anxiety isn’t just stressing over a test, and it isn’t being nervous about giving a presentation. It’s something that takes over my life. I have really bad anxiety about dying. For example, whenever I think about future plans, like “on Saturday i’m going grocery shopping” I force myself to think “well, unless i die”, because if I don’t worry about dying, i WILL die. I know it’s total bullshit and I sound ridiculous but my brain tells me otherwise.
8. People often invalidate us.
I think the biggest thing for me is that when I vent to someone about it they always, in attempting to help me get over it, tell me why I shouldn’t be anxious. But that makes me feel invalidated
9. It can also affect other emotions than just fear.
I wish people understood how every emotion is felt 10 times stronger no matter how little the situation is. At least, for me it is when my anxiety is peaking.
10. I (generally) cannot ignore it, if I could I wouldn’t have clinical anxiety.
I wish more people would understand that, most of the time, it’s not something you can just ignore, or get over. It’s really crippling and it’s a daily challenge. I wish people knew that I can’t knock on doors or talk on the phone not because I’m a “millennial” but because I have an actual problem.
11. I’m not being dramatic, or doing it “for the attention”
That I’m not being overly dramatic and sometimes normal tasks and situations can be too stressful for me. Also the phrase “everyone has some anxiety” invalidates me and I wish people would stop using it.
Have you experienced it? What do you wish people would understand?
Thank you to all the contributors!