I was diagnosed with anxiety and panic disorder a few months ago. It was quite the adventure. As I struggled to express my (irrational) fears with my friends and family it became obvious that most people had no idea how to handle me when I was panicky. And that was scary.
However, having been down that road, there are a few things that I really needed to hear, that some of you may need to say to someone in the future.
Thought you might like to know what they are:
- “You make less mistakes than you think”
For heavens sake, sometimes I feel like I’m living in a sequence of bad ideas and disastrous impulses. I’m sure I’m not the only one that needs to hear that I myself am not merely the mistakes I make.
2. “It won’t be this way forever”
More than anything else, when I was anxious, I wanted someone to tell me that things would get better. I could never believe that for myself, I needed someone to believe it for me. That’s a big job.
3. “You will be happy again”
Another thing I couldn’t believe. There is no greater responsibility than giving someone hope. Let those you love know that there is a hope and a future for them, no matter how bleak it feels.
4. “Don’t be afraid of life – just do it”
When I was living in anxiety, I felt as though I couldn’t even get out of bed, I was so scared of the world. It’s important that one knows that living life does not automatically mean fear and despair. Getting out of bed is important. Being nice to people is a good idea. Making sure that you face your fears will ensure that they don’t come back. Be brave. That sort of thing.
5. “God hurts with you”
I don’t know about others, but when I was having panic attacks, or anxiety in general, I believed that God was the one causing all the pain. In reality, the anxiety and fear that hurts us, hurts God as well. Remember to tell those living with anxiety that God weeps with those who weep.
Above all, it is crucial to be compassionate. To mourn with those who mourn is to be like Jesus.