We are all in this together.
In the throws of anxiety's attack, it's normal to feel like you can't be understood, and worse, like you're completely alone. This can leave anxiety sufferers feeling lost and afraid. In reality, many people struggle with anxiety and many don't, yet everyone knows this feeling. As I've learned what causes me to become anxious and begin to show symptoms of an attack, I've learned that anxiety is a struggle that requires continual awareness and intentional coping to manage. So, how could such a seemingly uncontrollable and unforgiving struggle such as anxiety ever be a good thing?
I know there are people around me fighting their own unavoidable battles on a daily basis. Looking around can be discouraging because I often feel like no one understands the effect that anxiety can have on my day-to-day life, but this helps me to remember that everyone is prone to fear, loneliness, and feeling lost. Even those who are succeeding greatly and seem to have it all together have setbacks of their own. Nobody is perfect, and that is a fact. We are all in this together, and by knowing that we all struggle, we are more prone to helping one another feel more understood.
I should be the friend that I sometimes need.
By gaining a better understanding of my anxiety, I've grown to be more empathetic of other's struggles and pain. This is leading me to better understand that when others are going through tough times, they may not need may not be what I think is best. For example, I have several close friends who, in the face of hardships, prefer to cope in different ways. In situations like this, it's easy for me to want to focus more on what I think they need than being there in the way that they actually need me to be. Knowing so well that there are different ways I prefer to cope with anxiety based on the situation, I'm working harder at being a better friend, one that people need, which means knowing when to listen, when to give them space, or when to simply be there when they ask. Whether my friends ask for help or simply prefer to be left alone, I know that the most important thing I can do is to exercise empathy and be patient and supportive of their needs, because this is all that I could ask for.
By asking for help, I might be helping someone else.
Sometimes, asking for help isn't easy to do. It can stir anxious feelings that you're burdening the person you're confiding in. In reality, asking for help can be more selfless than selfish. Asking for help and being honest lets the person you're confiding in knowing that you trust them, and should they ever need help, they are welcome to come to you. It also sets an example for the important point that asking for help is okay.
Remember, there is no shame in asking for help when you need it. You're doing the right thing in more ways than one by pursuing someone whom you trust when you need a little push in the right direction.
It's my responsibility to make kindness contagious.
Perhaps the most important thing that I believe anxiety is teaching me is that there are billions of different perspectives all around me. Anxiety is an all-encompassing struggle. It can affect your mind, sleep, health, diet, and more. I've spent a lot of days feeling angry and fogged over because of how anxiety has interfered with my health and mood. Knowing what it's like to carry the burden of anxiety with me everywhere I go has taught me a lot about the importance of loving others. I understand that even the safest and warmest places can seem scary and dooming once anxiety takes control. This has allowed me to see the world through a different lens, understanding that there could be oceans of struggle beneath the surface in the lives of everyone around me. Some may be hidden, and others may be obvious, but we can never fully know what someone is battling.
The importance of kindness and patience in all things is essential, and this includes never judging a person by how they may be acting, or how they may seem on the outside. I'm growing toward becoming better at this every day despite struggles of my own, but I know that if I keep trying, I can make a difference.