This piece was written by Kirsten Corley, author of “But Before You Leave“
As someone with anxiety, I’m inclined to assume everyone is going to leave. So much so, sometimes I’m the one to ruin a relationship. The truth is I battle something I can’t control, and I get insecure when it comes to relationships. I know it can be difficult and I don’t want to burden you with my irrational thoughts and worries. So instead, I push you away before you get the chance to leave yourself.
Here’s what I’d wish you’d remember about people with anxiety:
1. They’re worth fighting for.
It might be hard sometimes. There might be stupid fights of scenarios I’ve created in my own head. But more than anything, I’m worth fighting for. And if you can fight with me through this, it’ll come back to you 10 folds.
2. The phrase, “It’s OK,” can never be used enough.
It’s two words. Two words that can stop every thought running through my head. And honestly, you can never say it enough.
3. Sometimes you just have to listen.
I’m going to play out these situations in my mind. I’m going to jump from point A to point B and sometimes you’re not even going to know how I got there. The best thing you can do is let me go off on my tangent. Even if there’s no solution or a fear I worry about in the future, the act of listening will help.
4. Don’t tell me, “You’re overreacting.”
To you, it might seem irrational. But to me, whatever I open up to you about, it’s something that actually keeps me up at night. So just take it as best you can.
5. They might not sleep through the night.
Whether it takes me a while to fall asleep or stay asleep, you’ll sometimes be woken up by me at 3 a.m. as I lay there wide awake. Just hold me close and the comfort in your presence might be enough to get me back to sleep.
6. Remember it’s not that they don’t trust you. They’re scared.
You say it’s an ex and in my mind, I jump to cheating. You say it’s a friend and in my mind, it’s someone trying to break us up. It’s not you and your relationship that isn’t trusted, it’s every worse case scenario automatically playing out in my head and I hate myself for it.
7. Answering texts timely does help more than you know.
You’ve probably noticed I answer embarrassingly fast and I know not everyone is like me, but it helps when people understand it. It helps when you say, “I can’t talk now this is why I’ll text you later.” Silence can kill anyone with anxiety. It creates problems in my mind that aren’t even there. It ends in apologies that aren’t even needed. And it adds a layer of stress to my life I wish I could control.
8. Don’t be mad if they send a double text.
You might turn your phone on to four texts. If you can remember it’s not that I’m trying to be annoy. I care. I care too much and I know it makes me look bad.
9. Sometimes they just won’t be up for going out.
I might cancel last minute or freeze in the middle of a night out and just not be able to do it. If I tell you I have to leave, don’t feel a sense of guilt or obligation to go with me. Just know I tried and for whatever reason, I couldn’t handle it.
10. Accept their apologies even if you don’t understand.
Whether it’s a night out gone wrong, a triple text, saying or doing the wrong thing, they are so observant. They will pick up on the slightest shift in you and before you even realize you might be upset, and they will apologize for it.
11. Help when you can but know when you can’t.
I would rather have 10 meltdowns, biting off more than I can chew, than admit I can’t handle something. I always say yes. I’ll never turn anyone away. And in those moments where it seems like I am going to fall apart and break, just hold me. Help me if you can but know I’m inclined to not ask for help. I’m used to dealing with things on their own.
12. Once trust is gained they’ll love you unbelievably hard.
While uncompleted lists, plans getting messed up or texts going answered might overwhelm me, if there’s something I’m good at, it’s love. If there’s something I’m strong in, it’s my ability to show you how much I adore and appreciate you. It might take me a while to trust you but once I do, my capacity to love you will fill you.
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Thinkstock photo via Vagengeym_Elena