How To Support Your Partner With Anxiety
Having anxiety is unpredictable, puzzling, unpleasant, and intrusive. Your brain feels like it’s at war, your chest feels heavy and tight, and that overwhelming fear that just doesn’t go away.
And the worst part is - no matter how much you try to focus and think or reason to yourself logically, your brain just doesn’t let you rest.
However, what if it is not you who is going through it? Dating someone who suffers from anxiety and seeing the person you care about suffer may be nearly as difficult as experiencing anxiety yourself.
It’s already so hard to explain and understand what anxiety feels like to people who don’t really know about it, and it’s even harder to know what to do or how to help yourself when you haven’t even experienced it yet. And the most confusing part there is even if you have experienced anxiety, everyone else’s needs are different from yours.
So if you’ve fallen in love with an anxious person, huh?
Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Here are a few things to consider when you’re dating someone who has anxiety.
#1 Never try to fix them
With the internet already available to everyone, I bet at one point in our lives, we’ve searched about how to fix or cure anxiety, maybe for ourselves or someone we love.
I mean, I get that we want to do everything for the one we love, not to let them feel anxious anymore. But, still, someone who has anxiety does not expect you to fix and miraculously take the anxiety away, but rather someone who can listen and be there for them when those episodes happen.
You are not their therapist, but you can help them get through their anxiety through how they cope and the activities given by their actual therapist.
#2 Do not explain how they should feel
Isn’t it already so frustrating when someone tells us we should feel a certain way?
You can’t just tell someone with anxiety to stop feeling anxious or to relax. It’s like telling someone who has difficulty breathing to “just breathe.”
Sometimes anxiety comes in strong waves, and no matter how many times we ask them what’s wrong, they don’t know how to answer when they don’t even know what’s wrong.
At times like these, all you can do is be there for them, even if it means just being quiet around them, possibly doing breathing exercises or meditation. Let them explain how they’re feeling, and if they can’t explain it, then just sit with them.
#3 Encourage them
Having anxiety means that you fear a lot of things, especially the unknown. So someone with anxiety may have already thought of the worst possible case scenario before even having to go through what they dread to do.
Words of encouragement go a long way, and often that’s all we want to hear.
So one way to help them is to encourage them, and congratulate them on all their little wins, even socializing or ordering food in restaurants.
Doesn’t that make you feel great? When someone acknowledges your efforts and encourages you to keep moving forward despite the fears and worries that you have to tackle.
To show them that you appreciate and acknowledge the things they are doing while slowly letting them realize that they can also congratulate themselves for the achievements and challenges they conquered is one of the greatest things you can do for them.
#4 Be there for them
There is no generalized or known way of knowing when anxiety comes because it often comes unexpectedly, whether it be strong nerve-wracking waves or a faint feeling. Anxiety doesn’t care whether you are in your bed at night, in the middle of your classes, or when you’re lining up to buy a Mcdonald’s meal. As annoying as it can be, it just - appears.
When your partner experiences anxiety, the first common thing to identify is the changes in their responses and actions. You don’t need to keep asking if they’re okay, but instead, a simple “I’m here” can suffice.
Anxious episodes may lead to possible palpitations, bursting out crying, silence, or even isolation, but as much as possible, ask a medical professional who specializes in giving intervention plans for those experiencing anxiety to know which ways can help your partner during an anxiety attack or when they start being anxious.
We have commonly described anxiety as someone who is worried, paranoid, or restless without completely understanding that it is a mental health problem. So as much as we want to assume that someone has anxiety, all because they say “I’m worried,” we can’t.
As much as we rely on google to give us answers (like the diagnosis in other cases where it tells us we only have a few days to live), we cannot assume that our partner has anxiety or the possible ways to treat it.
Suppose your partner has experienced anxiety for the first time. In that case, it is best to seek medical advice, but if it is someone who has experienced anxious episodes or anxiety attacks in the past, ask them how they can help or lighten the load or situation in a calm way.
Remember, someone with anxiety does not want to burden you with their problems, so assure them that you can lean on them and that you are willing to listen instead of forcing them into telling them how they’re feeling.