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7 Things I Wish I Could Tell My Customers and Co-Workers About My Anxiety

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1. I’m sorry if sometimes I don’t reply to you. I’m not trying to be rude. The words just aren’t coming out.

I know it comes off as rude when you talk to me and I just smile and look the other way. I’m sorry. My brain moves much faster than my mouth, and sometimes the words get so jumbled together it makes me too nervous to speak.

2. It’s OK to tell me if you need specific accommodations and/or help due to a mental health disorder.

I know it’s scary, and I understand.

You wouldn’t be the first person to ask me to seat you in a specific area. I know how it is to feel trapped in a sea of too many people and screaming children to the point that you can’t enjoy yourself. It’s OK. You don’t even have to tell me why you need to be away from people. I get it.

3. I know you’re right in front of me, but I don’t see you.

Please don’t be so rude. My anxiety keeps me from focusing. Sometimes I just look at you and smile, but I don’t realize you’re in front of me right away. I know it’s annoying — it annoys me as well.

4. Yelling at me if I mess up doesn’t help the situation.

It only makes me more anxious. 

I spend a lot of my down time worrying I messed up at some point during my shift. I know it’s frustrating when I mess up, but yelling at me won’t fix it. I’m already tearing myself apart inside.

5. I’m sorry I’m avoiding you even though we know each other.

If I see you while I’m at work, I’ll probably act like I don’t know you. It’s not because I don’t like you, I just don’t know how to push myself to act “normal” during social situations like that.

6. Sometimes, I need your help.

It’s hard. Dealing with people is not one of my specialties. I can hardly deal with myself. I can’t help it. If you notice I’m having a hard time, please help me because I’m too scared to tell you I’m struggling.

7. I promise I’m trying.

It takes time. Some days, I’ll walk in with no problem and do my job. Other days, it will take everything I have to show up at work. On those days, I promise you I’m doing my best. I know I frustrate you. I frustrate myself too, but please let me take a moment to figure out what I’m doing. I can do it if you’ll just let me show you.

Originally published: July 11, 2016
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