"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
  • have difficulty accepting compliments
  • have difficulty reciprocating friendly gestures
  • worry
  • have difficulty finding the courage to respond
  • have difficulty not being suspicious of others’ intentions
  • worry
  • make a huge deal out of the smallest thing
  • think we’re bothering you

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 know 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
  • (it will be harder for us to exhale than inhale)
  • (sometimes all it takes is our body to realize it can push the air back out)
  • or breathe through our nose
  • or have us put our hands on our stomach to feel each breath
  • or have us put a hand on your chest and breath with you
  • 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.

(Source: reddit.com)