1. People with anxiety disorders KNOW, as in, we are Fully Aware, that our fears, stressors, and worries are usually a bit irrational!!! This does not mean we can control those emotions or thoughts. Which leads me to Number 2…
2. KNOWING you are being irrational makes you feel CRAZY! I remember my worst panick attack ever. It was a silent one (as in no need for a brown paper bag at that point). I was in my anatomy & physiology lecture class and felt like I was going crazy right then and there. Like I was going to have a mental breakdown in front of 100+ people…Guess What…that made my anxiety worse! I remember battling all of the negative thoughts in my mind. It was like my brain actually split in half and was arguing back and forth at either side! It felt like I had five voices in my head screaming all at the same time. I froze and pushed through silently and motionless until the end of the lecture than ran out of that building knocking people out of my way in the process. The walk to my dorm was filled with tears and total fear. I literally felt like I needed to be in a straight jacket and checked into a mental institution And That scared the Shit out of me!!!
3. Somebody telling us (right in the middle of a panic attack) to “Calm down. Just stop it. It’s really not that big a deal. Why are you crying?” NEVER, I repeat, NEVER, HELPS!!! OH, and my personal favorite “BREATHE…”WHAT DO YOU THINK IM DOING?!?! I’m trying to breathe! But it feels like I’m having a heart attack!
4. I don’t need you to try and calm me down. I just need you to sit through my panic attack with me. Everyone with anxiety disorder is different and there are many different forms of it. However, personally, I just need You to remain as calm as possible, for my sake. If I’m in a stressful environment (particularly if there are lots of people around or you are freaking out) I need to be alone. Maybe have a friend or loved one there to rub my back and tell me they love me. Tell me everything is going to be alright. No matter what. Remind me of what’s most important in my life. That this attack is temporary and that my anxiety does not define who I am. Usually, having my dog with me drastically shortens the length of time my attack lasts. No it’s not me being selfish or childish. It’s not me being dependent on an animal. It is his calming presence or sometimes just a simple touch (pet) that grounds me and reminds me that I am not going to die!
5. Anxiety disorders are real disorders and you undermining my very real struggle in my daily life is Not okay. Please try to understand that people suffering or dealing with an anxiety disorder are not “big babies,” we are not childish or naive, we DO NOT need Nor Want any extra attention on us, EVER! We are people whose minds exceed our mental thresholds in stressful moments, reasonable people whose thoughts become irrational at no fault of our own.
Anyway, I hope these five little facts help those without anxiety to understand the people in their lives who do suffer from this disorder. And I hope that others dealing with anxiety in their daily lives are able to relate to these feelings. And that maybe, just maybe, I was able to put into words how you’re feeling in the midst of a panic attack or when you’re having an especially anxious day.