Depending on how long you’ve been around, you may or may not know that I suffer from anxiety. As someone who goes through this and often makes my friends and family suffer with me, there are some aspects of it that people just don’t get, and often times it just seems like common sense. To prevent this from happening anymore. I’ve compiled a list of things that people have either said to me or that I’ve have stumbled upon which have made me come to the conclusion that sometimes people just don’t understand. Also, I would just like to clarify that this is to help people not to put blame or make people feel bad.
- “Just breathe.” If it was that easy I wouldn’t be having a panic attack. Trust me I’m trying to breathe and calm down. It’s not like I’m choosing to gasp for air.
- “I’m sure it’s not that bad.” Okay, not breathing really isn’t that bad. Imagine waking up in the middle of the night short of breath, tears streaming down your face, completely confused about what’s going on. It’s like a nightmare but when you wake up its worse because it’s real. So please don’t tell someone with anxiety that it’s not that bad.
- “Anxiety Are you one of the lucky ones who suffers from anxiety?” I found this on a site I use to spark inspiration and it made me really mad not only because I like using this for inspiration, but because it’s kind of ignorant. Suffering from anxiety is not lucky, it’s annoying. I mean there are definitely worse things that could happen, but it’s not lucky.
- “It’s easy to fix.” Okay yes I understand I could seek help or get medication and I probably should, but I’m not ready. For me, personally to be able to do that I have to be emotionally ready to ask for help. Right now the best outlet is me writing about it. I have anxiety posts not published, things written in notebooks, and things I read to try and help in the moment. It takes each person their own time to fix their problem.
- “That shouldn’t make you anxious.” I’m pretty well aware that single stall bathrooms shouldn’t make me anxious. I’m pretty well aware that as soon as there are more than seven people in the room I shouldn’t feel anxious. I’m very well aware that sleeping shouldn’t make me anxious. Trust me when I say if I could stop these things from making me feel anxious I would. I can’t control that when I wake up from a nap I have a panic attack about how much time I just wasted. I can’t help it.
- “I don’t understand why you can’t go out for a night, it’s just one party.” Yes, I understand it’s just a party, but for me I’ll stand there, by myself, in a corner, waiting for the police to come. You’ll be wasted and I’ll be waiting to go back to my room. Eventually there will be pressure to drink, pressure to dance with drunk boys, pressure to go wherever people go at parties, and I’ll be confined to my corner, eventually having to venture back myself because I mentally/emotionally/ physically can’t handle it anymore.
- “Take it one step at a time.” Okay so let me concentrate on studying for a bio test when I have a sociology test too, no that’s not how it works for me. I’ll start studying for bio, but then all of the sudden hits me that I don’t know what the functionalist view of deviance is compared to the symbolic interactionist view, so I stop studying for bio to study that. Then I finally get to the next step in sociology when I no longer remember the difference between mitosis and meiosis. Not only does this make me incredibly anxious but it makes me do poorly too, because I can’t focus on just one thing.
- “You don’t look anxious.” First of all, what does that even mean? This is something that’s actually been said to me. Sorry I don’t look like I suffer from anxiety? Just because at the moment I might be fine and laughing does not mean that I’m not an anxious person. Yes I laugh, yes I smile, but I do have my days where I don’t want to get out of bed and I just want to cry all day.
- “That gave me such a panic attack.” Or other phrases along those lines. To me it’s not a joke, things that happen LITERALLY give me panic attacks. Not things that simply scare me. Trust me you would know if you had a panic attack. I read somewhere that “it’s not an adjective” used to describe experiences, it’s a very real verb.
- “Get over it and just do it.” Sounds like a great idea and trust me I’ve tried. I love Zoe (Zoella on YouTube) and I really admire how she just says “yes” to everything, it’s inspiring and trust me I’m trying that, however it’s not always the best solution for everyone. There are just some things at this point in my life that I just can’t do. When you say “get over it” or “just try it” to someone with anxiety, they might’ve already done it or something similar and it just didn’t go well. I can’t go to parties, sometimes even to like neighborhood things, I can’t handle it. Being pressured to go to parties is so annoying at college because people don’t understand that I can’t do it. I just can’t.
The bottom line is when someone you know/love has anxiety it’s best not to assume anything or take it as a joke. It’s probably a lot more serious than you thought it was mostly because they don’t like to talk about it. I hope this helps people to better understand the feelings behind anxiety and how it is for that person and the fact that what you say to someone has a big impact. It’s a sensitive matter and many people don’t always see it as one. The main reason I wrote this was because I was tired of hearing these things and I’m sure a lot of other people are too. I know that when you say these things you aren’t saying them with the intention of being hurtful or insensitive, that’s why I wrote it, so you know and you can be informed citizens. Thanks for reading!