I feel like I’m constantly battling to keep myself together and you telling me to simply ‘stay calm’ isn’t going to help at all. In fact, it’s just going to make me more anxious. Here’s a list of things you shouldn’t say to someone with anxiety.
“What’s wrong with you?” Feeling like I’m not able to control myself and feeling like something is wrong in general. That’s what’s wrong.
“Calm down” I’m trying.
“Stay calm” I wish I could. That’s literally what anxiety forbids me from doing.
“Try not to worry about it” Telling a person with anxiety not to worry about something only does one thing: makes them worry more. If you tell me not to worry I will probably come up with reasons why I should worry! I will go through the worst case scenario possibilities over and over in my head until I feel like I’m going to explode. It might not be easy, but let me worry about whatever it is I’m worried about on my own terms.
“Can’t you just relax?” Yeah, just give me an hour or 2…
“You’re so pessimistic” No, I’m realistic. Like I just said, when you tell a person with anxiety not to worry, all they do is think of all the negative possibilities that could occur.
“Others have it so much worse” I know there are starving children all over the world and there are people who don’t have clean water to drink ect, but now is not the time to remind me. I know I’m having a pity party and I know I’m lucky to be alive and have a roof over my head but all I can think about right now is whatever bad thing just happened to me. Please don’t belittle how I feel.
“It’s not the end of the world” Again, I know that. Deep down I know that one bump in the road isn’t going to crash my entire life. But, in that moment, it sure seems that way. When a panic attack hits, it truly feels like life is crumbling down around me.
“Everyone has rough days” I wish I had your rough days. But I would never wish for you to have mine. Anxiety is not a case of “everything’s going wrong today and of course that would only happen to me!” It’s a condition that makes a person on edge at all times, regardless of the situation. Even on a good day, there’s still a possibility that something will happen that will throw everything off. The best you can do, as a friend to someone suffering from anxiety, is to accept them for who they are and be there for them when they need you.