I have anxiety, and I believe I can speak for everyone with anxiety when I say this: it’s gotta be hard to be close to us. But there are seven things we want you to know that we don’t always know how to tell you.
1. It doesn’t have to do with you.
It can be pretty exhausting ruminating about everything we possibly have done wrong, are doing wrong, or could do wrong. We may want to sit and cry sometimes. We may be uninterested in our activities. We may snap at you, even though you absolutely don’t deserve it. We may even get nervous that you don’t love us anymore, even if you’ve given us no indication of this.
We want you to know above all else that it doesn’t have to do with you. It’s not your fault. We love you, and we’re so, so sorry if we ever give the impression that we don’t. We just don’t love our brain right now, and we don’t know how to deal with it.
2. Never try to talk us out of our emotions.
Trying to relieve us of our fear or sadness might seem like a good idea. And sometimes, it is. In fact, we might even ask you if we have any reason to be worried, so that we can try to combat that irrational part of us that is constantly afraid.
But there’s a fine line between trying to help us and trying to talk us out of it. Never tell us that our worries don’t exist, or that we can get over it if we just stop thinking about it. All that does is make us feel like we’re broken—that there’s something wrong with us that even our closest loved ones don’t understand.
3. Part of us knows that our fears aren’t rational, but we can’t shake the part that doesn’t.
Sure, we know that the embarrassing thing we said wasn’t really all that embarrassing, and it probably didn’t influence anyone’s opinions of us whatsoever, and that the entire group we were with today probably isn’t talking about how terrible we are behind our backs. We know how ridiculous that sounds, and it sounds even more ridiculous saying it out loud.
But that other part of us. . .that’s where anxiety lives. That’s where it can stay, feeding on us, popping out its head occasionally to remind us that it’s still there. That’s the part that always reminds us, “What if this time, my worries are correct?”
4. We are grateful for what we have—and for you.
Often, anxious people are labeled as pessimists. And that’s actually quite understandable. We’re pretty talented at coming to the worst possible conclusion almost instantaneously.
But that’s not always who we are. In fact, many of us are pretty optimistic between anxiety bouts. We do love our life, and we are grateful for what we have, and we are especially grateful for you. We don’t mean to focus on the negative, but sometimes, we can’t help it. Know we always appreciate you. You are the light at the end of our tunnel. You are the one who tries your hardest to understand, who knows us in and out and still is willing to stay.
5. We know you can’t always see things from our perspective, but we appreciate you trying.
As someone who doesn’t suffer from anxiety, we know you won’t be able to fully understand. We know that we might sometimes sound crazy, and we’re sure it can be frustrating to have to drop everything and calm us down.
But every time you answer our fearful texts with reassurance and kindness, or pull us into another room to ask us what we’re worrying about, or are simply there, steady, supportive, without questioning the way we operate. . .we can’t even express how much that means, because it’s rare to find.
6. We wish we could turn it off, but we can’t.
Though it might seem otherwise, we don’t want to focus on what could go wrong. We don’t want to be negative, or bring the mood down, or nitpick about things that may seem little to an outsider. We’re not trying to get attention.
We know how we sound sometimes, and we wish we could turn it off. But it’s just a part of who we are.
7. It doesn’t define us.
We may have anxiety, and it may be a part of us. But so are our passions, our quirks, our personalities. Anxiety is one of countless parts. We still laugh. We still feel the wind in our hair. We still appreciate a steaming mug of coffee early in the morning, or the sun warming our skin in the summer.
Just tell us: We still love you. We always will.