”It is very hard to explain to people who have never known serious depression or anxiety the sheer continuous intensity of it. There is no off switch.” – Matt Haig
Whenever I saw a guy being interested in me, I would automatically freak out and make him run away from me. It’s really nothing personal. It’s just that my anxiety is very hard to understand, so I don’t even try to explain it to people. It’s much easier if I don’t get attached to them, because people can be cruel when they go and leave your life. But, I have changed my mind. For the past couple of months, I’ve been talking about my anxiety a lot. People need to know the real me in order to be there for me, right? I can see their confused faces and they don’t take me seriously when I tell them that it gets bad, really bad. Anxiety tends to ruin relationships and I want the people in my life to be prepared for that, especially someone who’s going to be my partner. He would need to know some things before we get serious.
1. Take me seriously
My heart rate will increase over the most insignificant things. To you, it might even seem silly, but to me it’s very real. Don’t ever dare to laugh at my anxiety attacks or tell me that ‘there’s nothing to worry about’. What I really need you to do is try to understand me and not judge me for what I’m experiencing.
2. I will overthink everything
When I say everything, I mean everything. I know that most of those things probably aren’t true and won’t ever come true, but I will still lie in bed until 3 a.m. because my brain doesn’t have a ‘pause’ button. Anxiety made me a prisoner in my own mind. I just need you to reassure me that it’s all going to be OK and that we’ll be fine. Tell me that you love me, listen to me and help me think positively. I will be forever grateful.
3. Opening up isn’t that easy
Don’t get mad if I don’t tell you everything. I will hold my thoughts and emotions inside myself for as long as I can, although I know it’s not a healthy thing to do. I’m just scared that you might run away so I keep it in. I’m trying not to, but my thoughts are probably very negative and I wouldn’t want them to affect you.
4. I need you
I will probably need you more than you will need me. I need you to be there for me, to understand me and listen to what I’m going through right at that moment. Sometimes, I will simply need someone to give me quality advice from the third perspective and someone who won’t judge me for my feelings and my overthinking.
5. I do have trouble sleeping at night
As I said before, my mind can’t find its ‘pause’ button. You’ll probably find me drowning in tears in the middle of the night because of something I thought about. At these moments, I do need you to hug me and tell me that you’ll be there for me no matter what. Or stay up with me, talk with me about what’s going on in my head – I’d be extremely thankful.
6. I do have nightmares
If you hear me screaming in my sleep, I’m probably dreaming about a zombie apocalypse, a serial killer running after me or blood dripping down the walls of my room. Yeah, my mind loves all the scary stuff.
7. I might forget to breathe
Well, if you really do love me, please remind me to breathe. But truly breathe, as in take a minute to simply breathe and relax. I do forget to do that at times. My mind is my priority, that’s why I forget to do the easiest tasks, tasks that are basic to staying alive.
8. Don’t let my anxiety attacks scare you
At first you won’t understand them (just like the rest), but when an attack occurs, take the time to lie down with me and hug me tightly. If I can’t breath, then let’s sit up; it’s easier to breathe like that. But, don’t you ever leave me alone when it happens. I will need you to tell me that you’re there for me whatever happens and to ask me how I’m feeling. It will help a lot.
9. Not every problem is related to my anxiety
If I’m telling you about a problem in my life (or in our relationship), it doesn’t mean that it’s automatically related to my anxiety. Sometimes, believe it or not, I can be rational and if you’re being a d*ck and I call you out for your behaviour, don’t tell me that it’s just me overthinking. No.
10. I’m not my anxiety
Anxiety is just a part of me that I have to deal with. I’m not my thoughts and I’m not the emotions I feel on such a high note. I am more than all those things that are happening to me. So, don’t look at me through the filter of anxiety. I am still capable of taking a joke and being tough in situations that require me to be strong. Anxiety doesn’t define me.