By Kelli Rose
As a woman with anxiety, I can tell you right now, I know that I am not the easiest person to love. Some days are harder than others. Some days I feel as if I am spinning out of control and can’t get anything right. I know that I may not be full of sunshine and daisies but I have people that love me very much, even when I can’t see it myself. Some people understand it because they’ve been there; some people think it’s a figment of your imagination. Whether it’s what you would consider “real” or not, it would mean the world to your anxious loved one if you could take a step back and listen to our needs and apply a few simple actions that would make our world a much easier place to handle. Let’s talk about some simple ways to ease your loved one’s anxiety, shall we?
1. Please for the love of God do not force us to make plans at the very last minute.
Rest assured, we already have our entire day or week planned out before you come up to us with some last minute dinner plans or an outing to a bar with the girlfriends after so-and-so’s latest break-up. It takes a lot for us to get motivated to get out into the world and ready to face other human beings. Please don’t make us have to do that before we’re mentally prepared. More importantly, don’t be offended when we say no.
2. Don’t say things like, “Look at me in the eyes.”
This is definitely impossible for us most of the time. Let’s not make things awkward by me having to openly deny your request for eye contact.
3. Don’t take if offensively if we don’t want to hold your hand.
Our personal bubble is a sacred place. When someone touches us, it can be a suffocating feeling, even if you’re trying to be loving or comforting. It’s nothing against you; we will return the love when we are ready.
4. Understand that small talk is excruciating.
I mean, really. Let’s not settle for those obligatory comments about the weather, what we’ve been up to lately or the scores of the latest football game. Get to the point or be quiet. I truly appreciate the silence much more than the unnecessary chatter.
5. We desperately need some time to recharge after being social.
It is emotionally draining to be around a group of people. Once we’re finally out of that situation, it feels like we have run a mental marathon. We need some down time with silence, solitude and a few days to recoup before we’re ready to face the world again.
6. It’s much easier if you will just make plans for us.
Truly, the least amount of options that I feel I am being forced to choose from, the better.
7. “Meeting the parents” never sounds like a fun idea. Let’s try to avoid this for as long as possible.
We already hardcore judge ourselves, what we say, how we look, and how we act. We will obsess over whether or not your folks approved of us. Let us become more comfortable, and let us prepare. This is a serious thing, and we want to get it right!
8. Don’t volunteer for us to host family members or friends in our home without my consent.
This is definitely something that needs to be discussed beforehand. Our home is our safe place. Don’t invite people into our safe place if we aren’t feeling so groovy that day. It makes it so much harder to entertain when we aren’t at our best.
9. Help us stay on top of upcoming plans/events and their dates so that we don’t stress out as much about having to remember it by ourselves.
We’ll obsess over it anyway but it would just be nice if we feel like we aren’t the only ones worrying about that sort of thing.
10. Fill up the gas tank before you come home so we don’t have to go to the gas station.
People don’t realize how extremely anxious gas stations can make people. The entire experience is filled with possible interactions with other people, remembering pump numbers and what you came inside to get, and trying to hurry so the person waiting for your pump doesn’t get aggravated and honk the horn. It’s really a lot to take in, and none of it is fun.
11. Don’t make fun of us if we don’t feel like speaking through a drive-thru window.
Speaking to others isn’t easy, even if you can’t see their faces. This is a real thing.
12. Offer to go inside a store if it isn’t necessary that we go in ourselves.
The best way to deal with a potentially awkward situation is to not deal with it at all.
13. Don’t send us texts like, “I have a question,” or, “we need to talk about something later.”
This will drive us literally crazy, and we will beat ourselves up trying to figure it out. Don’t do this to ANYONE, for that matter. Ever. It’s just wrong.
14. If there is any bill that can’t be paid online, then pay it on the phone yourself.
If it’s online, then don’t worry- we got you! Please don’t make us speak to anyone on the phone, though. The horror.
15. Don’t leave us home alone when the cable guy or some service person is scheduled to come fix something at our house.
It’s already overwhelming knowing that a stranger is scheduled to come to your house. It’s even more overwhelming knowing that you’ll have to let them in and speak to them.
16. Answer the door if someone is unexpectedly knocking, and we aren’t aware of who it could possibly be.
I know it sounds silly, but this is a life saver. When you have to mentally prepare before you socialize with others, unexpected visitors are not your friends.
17. Ask if we would prefer for you to drive when we’re going anywhere.
Driving can be a lot to handle, as well. (See more about this topic on Reason #27) If we aren’t feeling up to the challenge, then it would be just lovely if you would volunteer to drive instead.
18. Don’t call us if whatever you need to say can easily be sent via text message.
“Sorry I didn’t answer my phone when you called. That’s not what I use it for.”
19. If you know that we’re out of something, then pick it up at the store on your way home instead of asking us to take a special trip to get it.
A lot can happen to us during the day so you never know how we’re feeling until you get there. We could’ve had a hard day, and facing people doesn’t sound so appealing to us. It could end up being the straw that broke the camel’s back.
20. Don’t make unnecessary noises, ever.
The more noises that we hear, the more scattered our brains become. Please don’t add fuel to the fire.
21. Don’t touch us for no reason. I mean, no reason.
Once again — personal bubble, my friend. Do not burst my bubble.
22. If we are standing at a store waiting to check out, then take the initiative to speak to the cashier and pay for our items for us, even if we have to hand you the money.
Again, small talk. Awkwardness. Anxiety.
23. Don’t put the spotlight on us when we’re talking with a group of people by asking us a random question.
We’re really trying very hard to be present but blend in with the scenery. Being the center of a conversation is not on the list of things we’re trying to accomplish here.
24. Always remember the look we give you when we’re in public and are ready to leave.
Just pay attention. You know what look I’m talking about.
25. Take into consideration how long we stay at any given place.
The sooner we can leave, the sooner we can get back to our safe place.
26. Remember that we really don’t like surprises, and definitely don’t talk about a surprise before you intend to reveal it to us.
This is just as, if not more, excruciating than the dreaded “We have to talk” text messages. If you’re going to surprise us with a gift, then just do it. If you’re wanting to surprise us with a trip, then run it by us first before you make plans. We will still be thankful for the gesture.
27. Be extremely attentive when you’re driving us somewhere.
Please, please, please pay attention to the road and watch where you are going. We aren’t in control, and that’s a problem for us. Even if you’re a good driver, we’re still scared as hell about all the possibilities of what could go wrong on this journey. Be aware! That includes no texting and driving!
28. Don’t ask us to entertain someone that you’re speaking with so that you can go do something else.
This only leads to small talk, and it only drains our soul. Just say no.
29. Don’t get aggravated when we ask the same questions over and over again just so we can be sure.
We can never be too sure, and sometimes our insecurities and fears will never silence in our heads. Humor us, if you will, but it makes us feel better.
30. When we think that something is wrong and we want you to go check it out, please be polite and comply, even if you think it’s silly or unreasonable.
Even if that means checking to make sure the door is locked after we’ve already been in bed for over an hour.