A great write-up on anxiety disorders

4 11 2011

I used to have massive issues with anxiety disorders and anxiety attacks. Anyone who’s known me over the past 5-8 years will be able to see how many million times better I am these days (for which I am eternally grateful). But today on twitter someone tweeted a link to the article below, which is far and away the best article I’ve ever read on anxiety disorders. Advice for those who have them, and those who know those with them. I’m not saying I agree with every single bullet point, but the majority of this is spot on. Well worth reading if you suffer or have suffered previously, or are someone who knows someone who does:

how to decode a person with an anxiety disorder

things we are trying to do all the time:

  • be safe
  • things we can’t help but do all the time:

  • second-guess ourselves
  • behave impulsively and reactively
  • take everything personally
  • worry
  • worry
  • worry
  • have difficulty accepting compliments
  • have difficulty reciprocating friendly gestures
  • have difficulty finding the courage to respond
  • have difficulty not being suspicious of others’ intentions
  • make a huge deal out of the smallest thing
  • things you should keep in mind:

  • we’re scared of everything
  • pretty much all of the time
  • it’s an actual disorder
  • it manifests as impulsive behavior
  • you can’t fix us with words
  • telling us “worrying is silly” won’t make us stop worrying
  • it’ll only make us feel silly
  • and then we’ll worry even more
  • “oh god, am i worrying too much? what if they call me silly again?”
  • like that
  • also, we wear a lot of armor
  • cold, heavy, affection-proof armor with spikes
  • we constructed this armor as children
  • we’re fairly certain you will never be able to pry it apart
  • but there is a nice person under there, we promise
  • things you can do for a friend with an anxiety disorder:

  • stick around
  • ask them if they’re comfortable in a place or situation
  • be willing to change the place or situation if not
  • activities that help them take their mind off of things are good!
  • talk to them even when they might not talk back
  • (they’re probably too afraid to say the wrong thing)
  • try not to take their reactions (or lack thereof) personally
  • (the way they expresses themself is distorted and bent because of their constant fear)
  • (and they knows this)
  • give them time to respond to you
  • they will obsess over how they are being interpreted
  • they will anticipate being judged
  • it took me four hours just to type this much
  • even though i sound casual
  • that’s because i have an anxiety disorder
  • things you shouldn’t do:

  • tell us not to worry
  • tell us we’ll be fine
  • mistake praise for comfort
  • ask us if we are “getting help”
  • force us to be social
  • force us to do things that trigger us
  • “face your fears” doesn’t always work
  • because—remember—scared of everything
  • in fact, it would be more accurate to say we are scared of the fear itself
  • emergency action procedure for panic attacks:

  • be calm
  • be patient
  • don’t be condescending
  • remind us that we’re not “crazy”
  • sit with us
  • ask us to tighten and relax our muscles one by one
  • remind us that we are breathing
  • engage us in a discussion (if we can talk, then we can breathe)
  • if we are having trouble breathing, try getting us to exhale slowly
  • or breathe through our nose
  • or have us put our hands on our stomach to feel each breath
  • ask us what needs to change in our environment in order for us to feel safe
  • help us change it
  • usually, just knowing that we have someone on our side willing to fight our scary monsters with us is enough to calm us down
  • if you have an anxiety disorder:

  • it’s okay.
  • even if you worry that it’s not okay.
  • it’s still okay. it’s okay to be scared. it’s okay to be scared of being scared.
  • you are not crazy. you are not a freak.
  • i know there’s a person under all that armor.
  • and i know you feel isolated because of it.
  • i won’t make you take it off.
  • but know that you are not alone.

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    One response

    8 08 2013
    Anxiety – One year on | inekeclewer.wordpress.com

    […] having to explain, or for the people I was with to know and so not to make a fuss and knowing how to handle me, again without me having to explain in any detail what was going […]

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