A PSA About My Anxiety Disorder

I don’t claim to be an expert when it come to anxiety disorders, let alone know how others living with them feel about this particular unwanted passenger. This is just a little PSA for all the times I’ve resisted the urge to *face palm* in my mind after someone, not always a stranger, has said something just plain insensitive and ignorant about anxiety disorders and those who have to live with them every day.

1. Anxiety isn’t like a pair of shorts, you don’t simply outgrow it as you get older or wear it out with therapy and medication. You just learn to manage it as best you can, with what tools you have. Because you have no other choice but to keep going.

2. You wouldn’t give someone with diabetes grief for managing their condition with insulin, so please stop hassling people about their medication or treatment for anxiety and any other disorders you don’t necessarily understand yourself.

2. Panic attacks aren’t always conveniently dramatic or obvious. So if someone with an anxiety disorder tells you he’s having a panic attack, please be a decent human being and take him seriously — it’s not hard.

3. Self-care is not a case of being selfish, weak, sensitive or flaky (yes, people actually say things like that). It’s about remaining in one piece at the end of the week so one can do it all again on Monday.

4. Don’t project your idea of what a “real stressor” is onto others. What may seem like nothing to you, may mean a panic attack or trouble breathing for others. This could be anything from making a phone call, driving or answering the door.

5. Most of the time I’m pretending to be OK with everything going on, sometimes I slip up on my routine. Just give me a chance to recollect my thoughts.

6. Like many people I have social anxiety disorder, and as a result, I don’t go to crowded events. Sometimes I can be present in body but too tense and unwillingly consumed by all the thoughts racing through my head to enjoy the moment like someone without anxiety would. Don’t take it personally. It’s not you, your event or even me as a person. It’s my anxiety.

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