I’ve grown up with anxiety. I’ve always had it, and I may continue to have it. Four years ago, I had my first real anxiety attack. I didn’t know what was happening and how to stop it. I still remember what I was wearing, where I was and what happened on that day. Because that was the day that everything changed for me.
From that day on, I had at least one anxiety attack per month, if not more. My teachers didn’t understand at first, but eventually they realized if I got up and left, I was most likely in the nurse’s office. I got to know my nurse, and she understood how to help me when I was down. But besides our nurse, no one really knew how to help me. So I decided to create this list for all my family and friends and others so they can help me and possibly their other loved ones.
1. Let me know I am safe.
When I have an anxiety attack, my body goes into fight-or-flight mode because it thinks I am unsafe. So letting me know over and over again that I am safe really does help.
2. Give me my space while still being there for me.
Even if you are just sitting in the room with me, it really does help. Sometimes when I’m alone, it takes a significantly longer time to calm down.
3. Distract me.
Although this may seem hard because I will seem extremely distraught, please distract me. If I am not distracted, I will not be able to come out of my attack. You can talk to me about anything in the world and it will help me, no matter how boring it may seem.
4. Don’t ask me the reason for my anxiety attack.
A majority of the time, my anxiety attack is triggered by something I don’t even know. I may not have or know a specific reason for the anxiety attack.
5. Don’t tell me I have nothing to worry about.
Hearing someone tell me I have nothing to worry about makes me feel even worse about having an anxiety attack.
6. Give me time.
It may take me anywhere from five minutes to an hour to get over my anxiety attack. This may see extreme to you, but depending on the severity of my attack, I may need a lot of time.
7. Tell me you love me.
This is by far the most important part. When I have an anxiety attack, I feel like crap. Telling me you love me begins the process of me getting better.
Although these may not work for everyone, I think some of these things can be used in every situation. Always help someone in any way you can, especially if they’re in a situation where they need you.
Having anxiety is hard, and most who struggle may not come to you when they need you because they are embarrassed or afraid you will not know how to react. If you know someone with anxiety or any other mental illness or chronic illness, reach out. Knowing they have someone to go to in a time of need can mean the world to that person.
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