To the People Holding the Hands of Their Friends With Anxiety
The friends who can’t go to a bar with their best friend.
The people who can’t change our plans without sending us into a state of meltdown. Disarray.
The friends who don’t get to go on adventures with their pal.
The friends who don’t share all the photos with that one absent person.
The friends who stop us from obsessing, make decisions for us and don’t ask too many questions.
The people who take us places so we don’t have a car or busy parking lots to obsess over.
The people who understand when we freak out over the layout of a supermarket, who make sense of our irrationality.
The people who remember the little things, who make sure we have an easily accessible exit and answer questions so we don’t have to. They take the hit.
The people who sit holding our hands, breathing with us and reminding us we are OK. We are safe.
The people who watch those close to them go into a total state of panic. Frozen. Fight or flight.
The people who explain to strangers, who become security and crowd control. Don’t get too close.
The people who chase us down roads, hold us tight and stay with us.
The people who sit up at night with us, who dress our wounds, stop us from shaking and who reassure everyone around us. Create the calm.
The friends who understand, who make things OK when we are unable to see it and talk us into safety.
The friends who don’t take our rejections and silences as rudeness, who still invite us to events whilst knowing we will never turn up.
The friends who stick with us after so long and who understand when things are too much.
We may not say it anywhere near enough, but you are more appreciated than we can put into words. We know you’ve got better things to be doing on your night out than sitting on a cold step, shivering, whilst giving us sips of water and stroking our hair and telling us we’re going to be OK, begging us to believe you. We do believe you, but in that state, our brains do not.
You bring us out of that panic mode when we are unable to ourselves. You may not see that, but you do. You help more than you will ever know. You miss out on being able to do things with your friend because they can’t cope with it. It’s not always fair on you either, and we know that.
We hate that it doesn’t affect or impact just us. It encapsulates everyone around us too. Sometimes we feel so guilty for bringing it to your door as well, and the fact that you stick around with us means so much. When we push you far away, you’re always there when we need you. No questions asked. When we reject your invitations, it’s not because we do not want to go. It’s because of the fear of what may happen if we do. Anxiety isn’t just scary in the moment, but the anticipation of its potential appearance is just as terrifying, which is why we avoid situations where it may happen. We have to protect ourselves.
Anxiety is exhausting. Once the attack is over, we’re done. So, so done. Our brains have just run a marathon. We are over-sensitized, tired and weak. During the attack, we are not there. Physically yes, but mentally we are a hundred miles away. We are gone.
Having someone you can trust, who can help to bring you back, can be so important. Someone to hold the map, guide you with directions and tell us where to turn. You are our sat-nav to calm. We love you, and you mean so much to us.
To the people who struggle with secondhand anxiety symptoms, thank you.
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