Coming to terms with your anxiety can be a really difficult and long process. It took me awhile before I could actually admit to myself that I was suffering with anxiety and the panic attacks I was having weren’t just one offs. Eventually you do have to accept that your feelings are valid and this is something you may need professional help with. But telling your parents can feeling like a whole different ball game. The important thing to remember is that having anxiety isn’t anything to be ashamed of, and that most of the time your parents just want you to be happy. That being said is can be really nerve wracking telling your parents, so Psych2Go has some tips to help.

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1) Explain how you’re feeling.  

When I first told my mum I think I could have anxiety she didn’t really understand what I meant. I had always been a nervous child, and she just thought I was referring to that. I didn’t know how to make her understand until I explained the feelings and symptoms I got when my anxiety would flare up. Naturally this was very difficult and I felt like I was baring my soul but it helped her to understand where I was coming from. Because anxiety is also an emotion that everyone feels, its important to emphasise the level of anxiety you’re feeling and how it’s impacting your life. The more they know about how you’re feeling, the more they can help.

2) Consider writing a letter.

The prospect of telling your parents face to face might trigger even more anxiety, if that’s the case writing a letter might be prefered. It also a good way to ensure you don’t miss anything out and that you can sort through what you want to tell them. This is something I’ve done multiple times and it makes things 10 times easier. You’ll also find you might feel lighter once everything is written down and out of your head. If I’ve ever written a letter to my parents I usually leave it someplace they’ll find it. However you could read it aloud to them, or give it to them and ask they read it privately.

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3) Use examples.

Your parents might not know much about anxiety or mental illness, so they may not understand, could possibly brush it off or deny there is a problem. To help them understand the severity use examples of when anxiety has impacted on your day to day life. When I was feeling my most anxious, I’d come out in physical symptoms like nausea, heavy sweating and temporary paralysis, i used these symptoms to explain how much the anxiety is affecting me and why I need help. But you could also use examples like “I’ve been having trouble coping with stress at school. I feel so overwhelmed that I’ve started to skip class sometimes.” Or, “I can’t stop thinking about germs and always feel dirty. Some days I wash my hands 20 or 30 times, so much that they’re raw.” You don’t have to share everything, of course. But don’t sugar coat the situation to spare them. Be very clear that anxiety is preventing you from living a normal and healthy life.

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4) Practice with a friend

When I wanted to broach the subject with my parents I was so nervous, I didn’t know where to start or how to begin explaining. I wanted to talk it through with someone first and I naturally turned to my friends. I figured I needed to tell them as some were starting to notice how withdrawn I got in school and I couldn’t brush them off with excuses any longer. Telling my friends first really helped, and me sharing my anxieties lead some of them to share theirs. It gave me a lot of confidence, because even if my parents reacted negatively then I still had a support group.

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5) Don’t give up

It will probably take more than one conversation for you to feel like you’ve fully explained yourself and that’s okay. It’s important to keep at it, even if it takes your parents a while to accept your anxiety disorder or to believe it. Emphasise that feeling this way is impacting your daily life and that you’d like their support in order to get better. Also keep talking about mental health, there’s loads of articles, TV shows and films that talk about different disorders. Maybe watching them can help them better understand where you’re coming from and what you’re feeling.

I hope this helps anyone whos thinking of telling their parents or loved ones! Also good luck! What helped you tell your parents? Leave a comment below!

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  1. The thing is they’ve never been supportive and just like when they found out a couple of years ago that I wanted to kill my self they did nothing about it but yell and tell everybody we know that hurts so I asked my friend what to do and say and she helped just cause she made me feel wanted and we laughed she said I should tell them but I really don’t have the courage to do it and I feel like 1 they will go tell my mom which wants nothing to do with me and treat me a lot differently and I’m very scared to do that but I can’t even explain to anyone else and I never really tell them anything more less I’m also afraid of having a panic attack in front Of them I told my best friend she was so supportive cause she has them to then I said ok let me try to tell someone else she was just saying things like oh your using being scared at home as a way to skip school that day I just wanted to die so bad I didn’t tell my parents about that cause they would just say why are you going around telling people stuff that we don’t know and they would just not be supportive at all u feel like I have no one to talk to cause I can’t tell my best friend everything even though she cares and wants to listen she’s always their for me and I don’t want her to feel like I always ask her to listen to me rant about how nobody knows about my panic attacks I’ve been trying to build up the courage to tell them but when I want to I always feel like I’m going to have a panic attack and my anxiety is really bed cause nobody knows about it and I really want someone to talk to that’s not like a adult everybody says go talk to a therapist but problem I have really bad social anxiety and will have panic attacks if I try

  2. The thing is they’ve never been supportive and just like when they found out a couple of years ago that I wanted to kill my self they did nothing about it but yell and tell everybody we know that hurts so I asked my friend what to do and say and she helped just cause she made me feel wanted and we laughed she said I should tell them but I really don’t have the courage to do it and I feel like 1 they will go tell my mom which wants nothing to do with me and treat me a lot differently and I’m very scared to do that but I can’t even explain to anyone else and I never really tell them anything more less I’m also afraid of having a panic attack in front Of them I told my best friend she was so supportive cause she has them to then I said ok let me try to tell someone else she was just saying things like oh your using being scared at home as a way to skip school that day I just wanted to die so bad I didn’t tell my parents about that cause they would just say why are you going around telling people stuff that we don’t know and they would just not be supportive at all u feel like I have no one to talk to cause I can’t tell my best friend everything even though she cares and wants to listen she’s always their for me and I don’t want her to feel like I always ask her to listen to me rant about how nobody knows about my panic attacks I’ve been trying to build up the courage to tell them but when I want to I always feel like I’m going to have a panic attack and my anxiety is really bed cause nobody knows about it and I really want someone to talk to that’s not like a adult everybody says go talk to a therapist but problem I have really bad social anxiety and will have panic attacks if I try I also feel like they will take it the wrong way and I’m just really scared

    • Thank you so much for sharing your feelings and story in that comment. It can be difficult to open up and tell people so that you for trusting this safe space.

      I want you to know you’re not alone with feeling like this, my parents didn’t have a clue what anxiety disorder or panic attacks were before I told them and my father was less than sympathetic. My advice for you is if you really want your parents to know tell them with your friend by your side so she can support you. She sounds like she really cares and would be willing to help you. If there’s anything else you need don’t be afraid to reach out again.

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Written by Ash Osborne

Writer for Psych2Go, currently studying Creative Media at College. Hoping to encourage more people to talk about mental health.

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