Anxiety… it seems like a buzz word at the moment everyone is talking about it, yet it still seems so many people don’t understand it. I don’t blame you for not fully understanding, I don’t think anyone will until they truly experience the suffering that goes alongside Anxiety Disorder. With 1 in 10 young people said to feel so anxious they do not want to leave their homes, it is likely that one of your BFF’S, partner or family members are suffering right now! So, here is what not to say to them, however helpful you think it might be.
So your best mate has got onto a train and suddenly feels the sense of impending doom and simply cannot breath or think rationally. To you, this seems a totally irrational thing to do and if she just calms down it’ll all be fine. right?
I can assure you that as she pants and panics in her head she will have thought to herself “calm down, it’ll be ok!” But, these are empty words that will simply not help instead make your friend feel even more isolated from the ‘norm’ and more than likely panic. Rather than just telling her to calm down, why not try and take her mind off things by chatting to her or opening a window and see if it helps her to relax?
“Why don’t you just think of something else?”
So your sister just got a tightness in her chest, and she has now convinced herself that this is going to lead to a heart attack, after all she has been eating a lot of cheese and drinking red wine! This has led to her sweating profusely, unable to regulate her breathing and asking you to get ready to call 999! So, of course it only seems logically to advise her to stop thinking about it and turn her mind to something else.
Ohh, she has tried but the problem is she is thinking of 100 different things all far to quickly for one person’s brain to process. And trust me, if she could think of something else, she would! But for many sufferer’s of Anxiety Disorder the thought that has started the panic attack is so over-consuming it is almost physically impossible to think of anything else! Why not start talking to her about the latest episode of PLL or an article you read about Taylor swift and try and take her mind off the thoughts racing around her head?
So your girlfriend is having a terrible panic attack over something her boss said to her, which in your opinion wasn’t even a big deal! However she is rocking back and forth repeatedly and has applied to a local bar for a new job, convinced she will be fired over forgetting to send out an email! Deciding to be a reassuring partner you tell her that she is fine to put her mind at ease, you have her back no matter what.
If she was ‘fine’ she wouldn’t be rocking in her chair with the feeling she is going to vomit at any moment. Yes, it may not be a serious situation but in it’s definition alone, anxiety is a feeling of irrational fear or dread, so to her at that moment it feels serious and is having a very physical effect on her. Instead talk it through with her, explain that you’re there for her through thick and thin and if she isn’t too hot and sweaty offer her a hug or an ear to listen to her, trust me she’ll appreciate it.
“But what has bought this on? It must be something!”
Your colleague has started to have a panic at her desk, she seemed okay this morning but suddenly her eyes have started to water, she is shaking and is finding it difficult to breathe. Something must be going on at home or something, as this doesn’t just come on does it?!
Everybody who suffers from anxiety has been asked this question more times than they can count, and it really is frustrating. 9 times out of 10 the feeling of anxiety will rush over her like a wave, a hot, sweaty wave of worry that she has no idea where it came from. It sometimes even comes on whilst she is watching Friends re-runs and she cannot work out why. The problem with anxiety is that it is constantly there niggling with 100 worries a minute running through the sufferers head, so sometimes her brain simply cannot cope anymore and will push her into turmoil. Rather than tell her something must have bought this on, ask her if she’d like a chat outside and see if she needs to chat about anything or if there is anything you could do to help.
“Is it my fault?”
Someone you love is having a panic attack, she is heaving, sweating, crying and breathing heavily and you’re not sure why? It is easy to believe that it is something that you have said or done that has caused her to have this reaction and blame yourself.
It is so tough to see someone you love going through the physicality of a panic attack, but your support and love is probably a small silver lining for her! Your asking if it is your fault will only make her feel guilt and lead to a more pro-longed panic attack. Remember she probably tried to hide her anxiety where possible and would never ever want you to think it is your fault.
If you’re suffering from any mental health issue always visit your GP or visit MIND for help!