How To Date Someone With Anxiety
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Health and Wellness

How To Date Someone With Anxiety

It's hard to watch someone fight their demons alone.

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How To Date Someone With Anxiety
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Anyone who knows me beyond just in passing, knows that I have anxiety up the wazoo. It isn’t something I love, for obvious reasons, but it’s also not something I’m ashamed of, because it’s just a part of me. I’ve been likened to Panic from Hercules more times than I can count both for my physical stature and my anxiety levels, and I love making jokes about Panic! at the Disco (unsurprisingly, I’m the only one who thinks they’re as funny as I do).

For those of you who might not know, the word “anxiety” refers to both a feeling of worry or unease and also a mental disorder characterized by feelings of anxiety that are uncontrollable and interfere with a person’s life. This disorder can lead to extreme stress, inability to function as a “normal” person would, and panic attacks.

Anxiety is not the same as an inability to manage stress well. It’s not something the person can easily control, and it’s not something that can be cured with “the right mindset”. Anxiety is a legitimate mental disorder that occurs in the person’s brain. There are medications that can help with anxiety, but some people suffering from this disorder don’t have access to these medications.

Obviously, dealing with anxiety is difficult, and I encourage anyone who is dealing with it to seek professional help if they feel that they no longer have control of their disorder.

But this article isn’t about coping with anxiety.

It’s hard to cope with anxiety, but it’s also hard to help someone you love cope with anxiety, especially when you don’t understand it yourself.

I’m going to put out a disclaimer right now: everyone is different. The way every person needs help dealing with their anxiety varies. However, since this is my article, I’m basing it off the way I function, and what would help me.

With that being said:

You know that thing that women usually say on badly-written, sexist sitcoms? “I don’t want you to fix it, I just want you to listen”? That should be your mantra while helping your significant other.

My ex-boyfriend used to get very caught up in trying to help me, and would tear himself apart because he couldn’t help. He used to tell me that it killed him that he couldn’t help me since whatever was hurting me was going on in my head. I would always just tell him that he helped by being there, which was true. Having him listen to me helped, and after a long time, he understood that that’s what I needed over him trying to fix the problems that were out of his control.

It’s important to know that your significant other is going to be shy or nervous- dare I say ‘anxious’- about doing things that you have no problem doing.

Simple things, things that you wouldn’t think about twice.

“I’m going to run to the bathroom, could you order for the both of us?”

“Just introduce yourself, she’s nice.”

“Can you call and order the pizza?”

“We got invited to a party tonight at a friend of mine’s house. They’re all dying to meet you.”

At least one of these things would incite panic in your loved one. As a caring partner, it’s your job to at least be aware of that. If your partner trusts you like they should, most of the time they’ll trust you not to lead them into a situation that would make them uncomfortable, and that’s your responsibility if you’re aware of their condition. As a couple, you take care of one another, that’s what you do. You make sure the other person feels safe and loved and cared for.

With this in mind- sometimes, to overcome anxiety, we need to be pushed outside of our comfort zones, and you can help with that. I’m not saying that you can continuously throw your significant other into uncomfortable situations, but I am saying that as someone they trust, you can gently nudge them into unfamiliar territory while assuring them the whole way that you’re there for them if they need you.

The keyword here is “gentle”. If you force your partner into something they’re uncomfortable with, they may interpret that force as an invalidation of their illness, and therefore a breach of trust.

Even if your partner does trust you, one of the most difficult things for them to deal with may be letting you help them during a panic attack. Simply put, panic attacks are not pretty. Imagine yourself having a heart attack, crying, and hyperventilating all at the same time.

That’s a bit like what a panic attack is like, and it’s a very private thing, something most people don’t want anyone to know about, let alone see. In order to help with this, it’s important to discuss with your partner what helps them. Some people don’t like to be touched while they’re in the midst of an attack, and some people like to be held. It’s important to know what your partner needs, since the last thing they need is to be panicked even more by the wrong kind of external stimuli. It’ll be trial and error, but just know that if they’re comfortable enough to let you see them break down, they trust you a great deal.

The most important things you can do for your partner are to just be patient and as understanding as you can be, and validate them as much as possible. Tell them you love them every day, more than once a day, and show them you mean it. If they’re anything like me, they’re insecure, and that extra love will go a long way.

And don’t beat yourself up about helping them. You’re doing enough just by being there. They’ll tell you that.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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