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5 Requests I Have for the People Who See Me Managing My Anxiety

1. Please don’t think I am weak or fragile.

I am not a weak person. On the contrary, managing my anxiety on a daily basis requires a great deal of mental strength and determination. You easily identify my moments of weakness when I break down or panic, but you do not recognize the 10 other times that day I was almost overcome by anxiety but managed to keep smiling and keep moving forward.

2. Please don’t tell me how lucky I am to receive accommodations.

The phrase, “Wow, you’re so lucky” is the reason I waited until the end of first semester in my second year of university to request accommodations with my school’s student accessibility services. I still struggle with the feeling that I am being given extra help and that I am being given an unfair advantage. I do not need you to reinforce my misgivings by telling me I am lucky.

3. I am not being dramatic. Please don’t tell me to calm down.

Believe me, if I could calm down, I would. Feeling out of control is one of the most terrifying parts of having anxiety for me.

4. Please do not tell me I am a disaster or a mess.

I may laugh it off in the moment and I will probably agree with you, but your words will stay with me long after you have forgotten them. They will swirl around my head for weeks and reinforce unwelcome feeling of worthlessness and self-disgust. I am not a disaster. I am a person fighting anxiety, and battles can often be messy affairs.

5. Pease do not tell me how lucky I am that you can deal with me.

I am eternally grateful for the friends who have stuck by me and supported me through difficult times. I do not need you to talk about me like I am an ordeal you have managed to survive, and I don’t need you to point out all the ways in which I make your life difficult. I think about them far more often than you do, and I regret the difficulties I cause you more deeply than you can possibly imagine.

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Thinkstock photo by kissenbo