12 Things to Remember When You Love Someone With Anxiety

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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.

This story is brought to you by Thought Catalog and Quote Catalog.

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Thinkstock photo via Vagengeym_Elena

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What's Really Going on When I Pull Away From Your Friendship

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A couple weeks ago I got into a fight with a friend of mine and it was like a switch was flipped in my head. Suddenly, I didn’t want to be around my friends. I felt stuck with no escape. I felt like there was an elephant on my chest and even though I knew everything would be OK, it felt like it wouldn’t. I’m told this is a common symptom of anxiety that presents itself rather intensely in me.

Trying to explain it to my friends was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. How could I tell them they didn’t do anything wrong, but the thought of being around them scared me to death? The best way I can describe it is my friends became my biggest fear. Talking to them makes my palms all sweaty and my heart starts beating and I feel like I am going to faint. The worst part is I don’t know why.

I can’t imagine what this would be like for the friends around me. One day we are fine, and the next day I can’t talk to them without feeling a panic attack headed my way. I wish I could explain to my friends exactly what happened and why it isn’t their fault, but I can’t do it. I can’t even process it myself.

The only words I can reassure you with are, it isn’t your fault. You didn’t do anything. You have been a wonderful friend and your support means everything. There is nothing you can do or could have done to change what’s happening to me right now.

For someone with anxiety, friendship is the most valuable thing in the world. Believe me when I tell you I wouldn’t ever give your friendship up for no reason. I know it doesn’t make sense to you, but right now its the only thing that makes sense to me.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Thinkstock photo via Ingram Publishing.

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The 'Homework Assignment' Helping Me Learn to Love Myself

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Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741.

Do you go to a therapist? I’m sure most of us do, that’s why we gel as a community, right? We are a unified tribe that all need a little help from our friends to get by.  

As someone who struggles with anxiety, my “mental hamster wheel” often turns inward with self-hatred and verbal abuse. My most common default is negative thoughts about my body. I struggle with loving myself. A lot. However, I am trying to learn to love me. All of me. Because I’m tired. I’m tired of beating myself up emotionally for not being “thin.” I am tired of trying to look “normal” and pretty. I’m tired of not loving me regardless of what I look like. I want to love me because my daughter is watching and absorbing, but I also want to love me because life would be much better if I did.

Now we come to the main purpose of this story. How do we learn to love ourselves? I have spent many hours in therapy, and I’ll tell you, I think I might have finally found something that helps. After my therapist gave me a homework assignment that didn’t quite work for me, I revised it. Hers was an “I choose not to weigh today because…” kind of paragraph. I was to read it in the mornings when I would usually weigh and beat myself up for the number on the scale. I learned quickly it just didn’t motivate me. What did wind up motivating me was rephrasing my paragraph and writing a “why I choose to love myself…” paragraph.  

So today, I’m sharing with you something I hope will motivate you to write your own paragraph no matter what you struggle with. This is my paragraph. I hope it inspires you.   

Today I choose to love my body because it has never deserted me. I choose to love my body because it has carried me miles and miles. I choose to love my body because it has made two beautiful children. I choose to love my body because it doesn’t deserve to be hated. I choose to love my body because it houses me. I choose to love my body because it has carried me up the steps of the Eiffel Tower and the Great Wall of China. I choose to love my body because we are partners. I choose to love my body because my kids think it is a safe space. I choose to love my body because my body gives love to others and it deserves it the same in return.   

This is not a permanent fix. I still struggle. I still have to pull out my paragraph, but it’s there. When I am feeling down about my body and I read it, it truly helps. I call it “positivity brainwashing.” May you brainwash yourself with positivity today and every day henceforth. You deserve to love yourself, and I do to.  

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Thinkstock photo via g-stockstudio.

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What I Mean When I Say 'I Don't Feel Good' as Someone With Anxiety

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I stare at nothing, zoning out and forgetting about my surroundings. I bite the inside of my mouth without realizing. I hold my stomach in pain out of habit. I only get out of my trance when the people closest to me ask if I am OK. Each time I respond with “I don’t feel good” or “Yeah, I am just not feeling well today.” These statements are very true but the closest people to me have no idea what “I don’t feel good” really means.

I stare into space trying to forget about the anxious thoughts in my head. I may be worrying about a homework assignment or I could be worrying about something that happened five years ago. Most of the time, I have a tornado of thoughts swirling through my head, a mixture of daily worries, self-doubt and fear of failure. My heart races and pounds in my chest as I can’t sort out one thought from another. I bite the inside of my mouth as a nervous tic, thinking about the to-do list I could be working on. My stomach is in knots as I think about the large crowd I have to be in tomorrow or the presentation or test that lies ahead. I’m holding my stomach to try and control the nauseous feeling as my anxiety becomes worse.

My thoughts start to sort out and I start to think of myself as a failure. My head is telling me how I am never going anywhere in life, how I will never find a job after graduation and how I will never be as successful as I want to be. My thoughts continue as they tell me how secretly nobody likes me, how everyone talks about me behind my back. I start to question if I have done something wrong, maybe I screwed up and I am no longer loved. I start to feel alone and hated.

I can’t stop these thoughts and they become too much. My heart races more and my breathing quickens until I feel like I can’t breathe at all. The room feels like a big black hole and I am slowly getting sucked into it, being pulled apart until I can’t feel my body anymore. My boyfriend grabs onto my face and looks in my eyes and keeps saying my name until my breathing finally slows down. I can feel my body again, I can see my surroundings. I am tears and lucky to have someone to hold me.

“I don’t feel good” does mean what it sounds like, but it also means so much more.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via kotoffei.

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Why We Need to Take 'High-Functioning' Anxiety Seriously

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When you imagine anxiety, what do you see? Shaking, crying, screaming? Panic attacks, hyperventilating, incoherent sentences? For some people, this is what it is like. But it’s not always the case.

What does “high-functioning” anxiety look like?

It looks like you have your life together. You smile, your clothes are freshly pressed, your hair is shiny, your arrive on time. You try your hardest, finish your work on time, help others and have hobbies. High-functioning anxiety makes it look like you’re busy living your life — and you are — to a certain extent.

For me, it’s keeping busy so I don’t lose my mind. The more I do, the more tasks I assign myself and the more things I can keep in control, the more I can control my anxiety.

The issue with not speaking out about high-functioning anxiety is the risk of people thinking it’s not real. And it is. Because I live it. And countless others live the same life. And when we need to take a sick day, when we are brave enough to take some time for self-care, we need to be taken seriously. I’m not faking being sick. I’ve been faking being well.

Just like the belief every person with an eating disorder needs to look like they have an eating disorder, the ability to be high-functioning doesn’t negate the anxiety. I was in desperate need of a mental health day, but I was too afraid to call into sick to work because I knew nobody would believe me. Because they couldn’t see it. This is the downfall of having an invisible illness. The trouble with having a disorder that masks itself as “just fine.”

Looking at me, you wouldn’t know I struggle with self-harm or eating disorders. You wouldn’t ever guess I have suicidal tendencies. Behind my work ethic and ability to do my job is a girl struggling to breathe because of a small typo in a tweet or because my lipstick might be one shade too bright. I don’t know how I can be high-functioning, I just know I am.

It makes it that much harder to ask for help because I don’t think anyone would believe me. I don’t want to be labelled as the girl who cried wolf. I want to be taken seriously. But until we even acknowledge high-functioning anxiety exists and it’s a real illness, it will never be part of the conversation. And without awareness, we can’t ever move forward and ask for help.

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Anxiety: The Man at My Door, a Poem

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My old love knocked on my door tonight,

“No,” I mumbled as I turned off the porch light.

I kept on, but then he knocked again,

“Oh darling,” he whispered, “please let me in.”

From my head to toes, my body froze,

“For a minute,” I said, turned up my nose.

He waltzed through the door with such confidence,

He acted like he said every word he meant.

He flirted with captivating charm,

I knew better, but I was not at alarm.

He was a man I wanted to please,

He reached for my hand, putting me at such ease.

I want him back, I thought to myself,

Regardless of how he is bad for my health.

He kissed my lips, filling me with lust,

Saying all the right things, he was easy to trust.

He reached for my hand, saying, “Let’s go,”

He wanted one thing; he would not be my beau.

Pushing him, I pointed to the door,

Screaming, “Get out, anxiety. We are no more!”

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Thinkstock photo via lolostock.

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