– Everyone who has ever tried to explain their anxiety to someone
Been there. Sometimes am still there.
I want to talk about support systems, but before I can get into that, we really should start with how you’re able to talk about your anxiety, explain it, and make sense of it. If you’re deep into the mindset of “she/he just doesn’t-won’t-can’t understand” I get it. I get you and I get that mindset. How can someone else understand when YOU can barely verbalize how you feel?
It’s frustrating. Your support system notices something isn’t right and hopefully wants to do everything they can to “fix it.” You don’t know how they can, and that upsets you and them. It’s a vicious cycle but one that can be made less terrible with lots of honesty and practice.
I’m engaged and have been with my fiance for almost 8 years and guess what, I JUST learned how to communicate my anxiety to him. Here’s what I’ve learned that works for me, I hope they’ll help you, too!
Explain what you know.
Panic and anxiety are scary places to hang out. They make no sense, they’re tricky little bastards and they live for screwing with your mind and making you feel like you have zero control. This is all stuff we know.
For instance, you know you’re feeling anxious. That’s a great jumping off point, start there.
“Hey, I’m feeling anxious, just wanted to let you know.”
You know this feeling will end eventually no matter how you got there.
“This just happens to me sometimes, I know this feeling and I know it will end.”
You don’t have to know WHY.
Make no expectations.
Unless you know how your support system can help you in the moment, kindly remind them that you aren’t looking to them to fix it in the moment, and that it’s OKAY that they may not be able to help.
“No, there’s nothing you can do but I promise I will let you know if I think of something.”
In the moment, you might not know what’s happening to you. You might feel confused, overwhelmed or scared. Share that with someone. Like I mentioned before, you don’t have to understand what is going on, but identifying it will help you communicate your anxiety to a friend or partner.
“I’m feeling scared right now, and I needed to let you know.”
If you know what might help you, be vocal about that, too.
“I think it would help me if you _________.”
Your support system is there for just that — support.
Do the recon.
After all is said and done, the panic attack ends or the anxiety subsides, reflect on it in a safe space. If you don’t have the privilege of therapy, talk to a companion. Share with them what you went through and see if you’re able to make sense of it. If you can’t, that’s ok!
This wonderful curse is tricky that way. Sometimes you see a trigger rushing at you with beaming red lights, other times you’re watching your favorite TV show and could swear you’re about to die.
If you have any helpful tips for talking about your anxiety and panic, please share them! Collectively I know we all have some wonderful management skills that just might help someone along.