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18 Things I Want My Friends to Know About My Anxiety

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Friendship is not simple for me. I cannot simply walk up to someone and say “Hi.” I spend too much time thinking about who a person is and how they will react to me, so much so that I end up staring and scare people away.

Even if I do start a friendship, I struggle; I get exhausted of social interaction and struggle with social cues.

I like to think I am a good friend, but I know people may not think this — if a friend doesn’t live up to expectations, I will shun them. Over the years I’ve learned not to waste time on those who only see me as a back up, and I can sometimes take this too far.

Here is what I want my friends to know:

1. I try to message you at least once a week, but it upsets me when I notice I am the only one who ever starts conversations.

2. I’ll re-type a message over and over so I know it sounds right and I don’t sound like I am mad.

3. If we make plans, I put it in my diary and will be there on time, so please do the same for me.

4. If you do not want to see me, be honest, because lies hurt more.

5. I get exhausted easily. If I leave early it is not because you are boring, it is because being social, for me, is the equivalent of full-blown spin cycling.

6. I will probably spoil you. I like to show people I love that I care, so please don’t take me for granted.

7. I prefer being in my own home. There is nothing wrong with your home, but I feel safer in my own territory.

8. If I get sick or go on holiday, it helps when you check in on me. Coming home to no messages makes me feel like you don’t care.

9. I’m terrible with words, so please be patient when I try to talk you through something.

10. What I give to you in effort, I want reciprocated.

11. If we go out or do an activity, it is hard for me. Remember that I struggle and what is easy for you may not be easy for me.

12. If you lie to me, I’ll never trust you again. Be honest, no matter what.

13. Please respect my choices; don’t try to change my diet, music taste or anything really. I am who I am, and I only want to be around people who understand that.

14. If I ask if we can make plans, pick a diary date and pencil me in for an hour, just for a coffee. Then I feel like you care. It makes me feel terrible when you don’t respond for weeks and say you forgot.

15. If I annoy you, talk to me. I want to be a good person. I don’t want to find out from a third-party that I annoy you.

16. If I get excited or talk fast, I am sorry. I enjoy your company and want to get everything out in one go.

17. If I call, you need to talk first. I get terrified of talking on phones, even with people I know.

18. I may not respond to your message right away because even opening a message scares me; then I need to re-read it over and over until I am confident I know what is written. Only then can I reply with an answer I have stewed on for hours.

I will always be the friend who is there for you when you need me. I will always be at the other side of the phone and drop everything in an emergency. I will always make a big deal about your little achievements and successes. I will be the best friend I can possibly be, but only if you return the favor.

Friendship is a two-way street. Please never take someone for granted.

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Originally published: June 18, 2018
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