Dealing With Severe Anxiety While in a Long-Distance Relationship
Living with anxiety is no easy ride, not for the person with it or for the people closest to them. Most people with anxiety appear to lead a fairly “normal” life: they go to work, socialize with friends, have relationships, but every day is a struggle. On the outside everything may appear calm and steady while on the inside there is debilitating pain, constant overthinking and analyzing every detail of your life. It’s exhausting.
Anxiety in any relationship can cause conflict between partners, but long-distance relationships, as you may imagine, can be particular stressful. With so many miles between you and only the phone as a means of contact, most people would struggle to build a healthy relationship, even those without anxiety.
So what happens when a person with severe anxiety enters a long-distance relationship? I can only speak from my experience, but I wish I’d taken the same advice as what I’m about to share:
1. Trust your partner. As the old saying goes, you can’t have a healthy relationship without trust. Some days I would be lying in bed and think, “What if he goes outside the house today and meets the love of his life?” Even though he gave me no reason to feel that way, my lack of self-love drove countless thoughts running through my head, mostly boiling down to – I’m not good enough. Your partner is with you and loves you. Express how you feel to him or her and remember these thoughts may only be a reflection on how you feel about yourself. Be kind and give a little love back to you.
2. Stop comparing your relationship to others’. I get it. You see “normal” couples who live together, go on regular dates, make future plans. Then you look at your relationship and you can’t help but focus on the negatives. You may be fixated on the times you’ve argued about them missing an arranged phone call, frustrated from being apart for so long, angry at the progression of the relationship. With all these strong emotions, you may forget all the positive things. And these are important things: the times where you spent all night talking on the phone, the amount of quality time you spent together, not the quantity, the amazing sex you have together, the laughs, the jokes – all of it. Keep in mind the positives, and remember there are advantages of being in a long-distance relationship such as having the freedom to live your life independently but still have the love of someone from afar. Once you stop comparing your relationship and start appreciating it, you can find clarity.
3. Don’t try to control. Now, this was a really important one for me. Your partner is miles away from you. They’ve got their own life and you have yours. With such a strong fear of losing them and having so much distance between you, this may be when panic mode kicks in, accompanied with a need for control. Instead of trying to control your partner’s life, try to find things that make you happy because at the end of the day if you stop your partner from doing something they love, you may lose them, and vice versa.
4. Be honest. If you feel that your anxiety is getting to be too much and situations are causing you to slowly lose yourself, seek help and be honest with your partner. The problem with anxiety is it comes in so many different shapes and forms that sometimes we can’t quite establish the sense of “Is this me or my anxiety?” But when it comes to seeking help, if that’s what it comes down to – do it for you.
One day the relationship could end, but if that happens, then you need to have coping skills. The good news is there are some amazing therapies and exercises you can do at home to re-train your thought process and help create a more positive you. Just remember, if the relationship does break down, you can still move forward.
We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.
Thinkstock photo by epicurean