Do you know one of those people who doesn’t understand anxiety? The ones that act like it’s this made up thing?
I think we can all agree that dealing with people like that is aggravating to the max. It can be annoying when you’re dealing with someone you don’t care for, but the feelings can turn darker when it’s a friend or a loved one.
My husband didn’t understand anxiety. The fact that I can’t control it didn’t quite click in his mind. This issue went on to cause severe hardship for quite some time. It sent me into a depression that was very hard to crawl out of. Luckily, after a lot of work, we were able to fix the problem. Now he is one of my largest supporters.
I’ve been reflecting on that period of my life lately, and I want to share some tips for dealing with loved ones who just don’t get it.
Tip #1 Educate Yourself
You can’t help another person understand something you know nothing about. Research, Research, Research. If you haven’t been officially diagnosed, make a doctors appointment. Only once you truly grasp what anxiety is can you explain it to others.
I was very young when I was diagnosed, and it wasn’t taken seriously by my parents. I had pretty mild symptoms, so it never went any further than the diagnosis. Fast forward to adulthood, and my anxiety seriously hulked out. It got very bad very fast. I had no clue what was going on.
It took me a while to put two and two together. Even after figuring it out, I tried to stick my head in the sand and wish it away. It didn’t work, obviously. Meanwhile, I was trying to help my husband understand these changes when I didn’t even understand them myself.
It’s easy to get upset when speaking about your anxiety. It can be even more intense if the person you’re talking with is misinformed. Arm yourself with the facts so that you can correct their misunderstandings.
Related post: What Causes Anxiety?
Tip#2 Talk About It
To clarify, I don’t mean speaking a couple of sentences about it here and there. Sit down and have an actual conversation. Be honest about your feelings.
This tip may seem like an obvious one, but I will admit I was guilty of not doing it.
I didn’t like talking about my anxiety in the early stages. I felt embarrassed and ashamed. Speaking about my anxiety would send me into an anxiety attack. I had to fight back tears anytime I had to talk about it.
The thing is, I somehow expected my husband to understand something that I wouldn’t even sit down and discuss with him. That was an unfair expectation.
I know it can be hard, but if you want someone to understand what you are going through you have to open up.
Tip #3 Be Patient
your person doesn’t experience the symptoms, they know nothing about the feelings anxiety brings. It may take some time to sympathize with what you’re going through.
It took me a very long time to wrap my mind around anxiety. I had a hard time accepting that this disorder is apart of me. I had an even harder time dealing with the fact that sometimes it causes me to feel things that don’t make sense. Keep in mind that you’re asking somebody else to understand and accept that same thing.
Try to be patient while they adjust.
Tip #4 Introduce Them To Another Anxiety Sufferer
Honestly, I don’t know why this seems to help, but it does.
My husband and I had our best communication breakthrough after he met another anxiety sufferer.
Perhaps it’s easier to learn from someone who isn’t apart of the situation. It also could be that this person explained it better than I did. Who knows?
The point is, it helped us, and it may be worth trying yourself.
Tip #5 Don’t Let Them Push You Toward Your Triggers
Sometimes people who don’t understand anxiety disorder seem to think that forcing yourself toward your triggers will change the way you react to them. They aren’t 100 percent wrong. You shouldn’t avoid your triggers. The thing is, it needs to be at a pace you feel comfortable with and only when YOU feel ready.
Being pushed into something that you aren’t ready for can set you up for failure. If done too often, it can easily make you close yourself off from the person doing the pushing. That’s not a good outcome for you, them, or your anxiety.
In my case, it made me depressed. I felt aggravated, defeated, and guilty. I thought I was letting my husband down. My anxiety would tell me that I was a failure and a burden. It got to the point I didn’t want to deal with life anymore.
So if someone tries to push you, shut that crap down. Explain that you will attempt to face your triggers when you feel ready, and only then. Don’t budge on this.
Tip #6 Don’t Let Them Convince You That It’s Not Real
Sometimes people who don’t understand anxiety will tell you that it’s mind over matter. They will try to convince you that you can actively decide not to feel anxious, if only you would genuinely try.
This mindset may not be coming from a bad place. The person is probably just terribly misinformed. The fact remains that anxiety being a choice isn’t the least bit accurate. Don’t sit idly while someone tries to convince you of this. If you hear it too much, you may start to believe it, and what follows after that is dark indeed… take it from me.
Stand your ground and tell the person that they are wrong, and then educate them on why.
YOUR ANXIETY IS A MENTAL DISORDER. YOUR ANXIETY IS REAL.
Tip #7 Accept What Is
Just because you love someone doesn’t mean that they are good for you.
There is a difference between having a difficult time understanding anxiety, and not trying to understand it at all. No matter how hard you try, some people just aren’t going to return the effort.
If someone can’t be bothered to at least attempt to understand something that has a massive impact on your life, then maybe they aren’t someone you need to be around. I know this tip can be hard to hear, but your mental health should be a priority.
Anxiety is hard, and when it starts affecting your relationships it can be downright depressing. It’s important to keep in mind that you aren’t alone. We are all in this anxious life together.
Dealing with people who don’t understand can impact you in many negative ways. Join an anxiety support group so that you always have somewhere to go when it starts to take its toll.
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