This piece was written by Lauren Jarvis-Gibson, a Thought Catalog contributor.
Don’t baby her. Don’t look at her with a worrying gaze every time she reaches her hand out to you. She isn’t broken. She isn’t mental. She’s only human.
When she has a panic attack, don’t assume she’s faking it. Trust me, she isn’t. Hold her through her shaking, and tell her she is going to be OK. Tell her everything’s OK. Don’t think that she’s doing this for attention. She can’t help this. She can’t help what’s going through her mind. She’ll just need you to stay with her and talk to her through it. She needs you to tell her you’re there for her.
Do not pity her. Do not keep her inside to shield her from the world. Let her live. Let her breathe. Have her face her fears.
Take her on adventures. Watch her smile light up at the world around her. Know that sometimes, her world is more beautiful than yours. Know that her world is more beautiful because you are in it.
Don’t freak out when she has a bout of anxiety for no reason. Don’t get mad, and blame her anxiety on just a bad day. Validate her feelings. Validate how she is feeling.
And don’t make it a bigger deal than it already is.
Respect her. Do not push her to over do it. When you notice her hands start to tremble, ask what is wrong. Ask what you can do. Don’t let her go into overdrive. And stay calm, because although she may look good on the outside, her insides could be screaming.
Understand you will never understand how debilitating anxiety can be. Understand you will never truly feel what it’s like to have a panic attack, or to have your heart beat out of your chest, and to have your throat close up.
Just do your best to be there for her. Listen. Respond. Take care of her. Soothe her. Ease her worries when she lists every single thing that makes her afraid. Tell her you understand. Tell her she isn’t insane. And tell her you will be there by her side. No matter what.
Realize she wishes she wasn’t like this. She wishes she didn’t have these thoughts in her head. She gets scared sometimes, thinking that she’s too much for you. She gets worried you will one day leave her.
Show her that you won’t. Show her that you’re the type of guy to stay. The anxiety doesn’t matter. Show her that you love her too much to go. Show her you care too much to ever leave.
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