I’m pushing this one ahead and hoping it doesn’t stir any trouble. I’m not trying to call anyone out or make anyone feel bad. Kind of hard to do when the topic will result in me pointing out mistakes that one can make when dealing with someone who has anxiety. I am glad to have found the picture above, which covers a lot. I’ve been subjected to 3 and 4 a few times. Guess I really only have to add onto this from personal experience and focus on what to do when you know the person suffers from anxiety.
- Feel free to do research on anxiety, but don’t start talking like you went to school for it. Even if you did, talking clinically to a person doesn’t help. This method can come off as a minimizing of the problem or ignoring the emotions involved. It’s better to listen and talk about them personally instead of making them a statistic. That’s if they want feedback in the first place. As the graphic says: Don’t force people suffering from anxiety to talk it out.
- We’ve probably all made the mistake of thinking a person will feel better if they’re told that others have it worse. Good for those people, but I don’t take joy in the misery of others. Knowing somebody else is in a worse condition can actually make my own anxiety feel worse. I mean, how selfish do I have to be to ignore these people I’ve never met? I must be a horrible person unless I find a way to help them, which might help me or at least alleviate this sense of guilt I now have on top of the anxiety. Yeah, don’t do this.
- If you know a person, especially a loved one, has anxiety attacks then learn the signs of an onset. It can be an odd cough, a change in breathing, sudden rubbing of the chest, or even a gradual exit from a conversation. These aren’t the same for everyone person, so it takes interaction instead of research. This isn’t to jump in and save them either because that can make things worse. Recognizing the signs allows you to not become part of the problem. You don’t want to add pressure to an already difficult situation.
- Please don’t start up a serious conversation that involves decisions or insight with a person who is in the middle of an anxiety attack. Their minds aren’t really in the moment to help you or talk about weekend plans. It really doesn’t go well if you start talking about your own problems with someone struggling. You don’t talk about what you had for breakfast with a starving person, do you? Then don’t heap more stress onto someone already at their breaking point.
- LISTEN! Seriously, this is crucial. If you really want to help then you only have to listen to what the person says. Don’t correct them. Don’t take half of what they say and run with it. Don’t assume you get the idea. One slip and you can either make a current attack worse or trigger another in the future.
- This goes primarily for loved ones and relates to #2. Don’t think isolation is always the answer. Part of the problem is that the person’s mind goes running wild and being alone is the perfect environment for this. You also want to make sure they want this because just going away all the time can make them feel like they’re being abandoned due to being seen as a burden.
- If you learn that your friend or loved one is confiding in someone else about their anxiety instead of you then don’t make a big deal about it. Don’t try to interject yourself into whatever is going on. Don’t act jealous or angry. In fact, responding poorly to this will probably reveal why you’re not the comforter that this person needs during rough patches.
There’s probably more floating around in my head, but I’ve been having a really bad week in terms of anxiety. Things didn’t start off well and the weekend was fairly bumpy. Been sleeping poorly and praying I can finish writing this book by the end of the week. The stress of all that has combined with some personal stuff to make it feel like I’ve had a permanent attack going. So, I’ll do my best in the comments. Feel free to add your own advice and I’ll put them down below for anyone who reads the post later.