Things not to say to someone with anxiety disorder

It’s always important to be mindful and respectful of what you say to others. Throughout my experience of having anxiety disorders people have said things that I find to be said with little thought. I’d like to note that I 100% understand that people may not know what to say to help or, simply say whatever they feel will make me feel better, therefore, I decided to write a blog on what not to say to people with an anxiety disorder.

1. “Calm down”

It’s fair to say that I wish I could calm down and I try everything to stay as calm as I possibly can. The reason behind why people with anxiety disorders may struggle to keep calm in certain situations or day-to-day life is because of the release of stress hormones (such as adrenaline) into the bloodstream which may affect other parts of the body and cause symptoms such as: panic attacks, nausea, feeling light-headed, heart palpitations, sweating and so on. As an alternative to saying calm down perhaps suggest meditation or breathing techniques; I also find light exercise such as jumping jacks helpful sometimes. It all depends on what the individual finds best works for them.
2. “People are worse off than you”

I’ve only had this said to me once and it can make a huge impact on how you feel about yourself. I’m sure everyone will agree that it’s not kind, or fair, to measure up and compare other people’s problems to see who’s is ‘worse’ after all, it’s not a competition. Therefore, I suggest not saying anything that makes someone feel belittled; It’s crucial to remember that anxiety disorder/s have a vast effect on people’s lives and it’s always best to support them and simply be kind.

3. “Stop stressing” or “what do you have to be stressed/worried about”

Anxiety disorder/s do not come with an on and off switch; I have no control over how I feel, although I wish I did, which is why I’m currently in the process of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). Furthermore, anxiety disorder is something that can affect you daily or be ‘set off’ in certain situations. It’s important to be mindful that you may not know what others are going through, so try to be empathetic.

4.  “I know how you feel”

Unless you have personal experience with anxiety disorder/s then you don’t know how I feel. I believe there is a misconception around feeling stressed/anxious for a short period of time and having an anxiety disorder. We all experience stressful times in our lives at some point, but Anxiety disorder is different from feeling anxious before a test, job interview, moving house and so on. Anxiety disorder/s are constant whereas the feeling of anxiety before a test for example, will soon leave. Of course, stress can and may lead into anxiety disorder/s but feeling temporarily stressed is not that same as an anxiety disorder. However, I always love hearing everyone’s stories about their experience with anxiety disorder as it helps me understand more and is a comfort to know I’m not alone.

5. “Just get over it”

If only it was that simple. Not only is it inconsiderate to say that, but it’s also going to increase the anxiety I’m already feeling as I’ll be worrying about what you think which leads to various other negative emotions. The recovery to anxiety is going to be a difficult one and one day I hope I will be able to live my life with as little anxiety as possible.

6. “You’re turning red”

Ever since I can remember I’ve ‘turned red’ in various uncomfortable situations; I’m very aware that I’m turning red as I feel the heat rushing up to my face which in turn makes the situation worse as everyone’s aware of my awkwardness. I usually pretend that I’m boiling or I’m having a hot flush, so if you could go along with that instead of pointing out my embarrassment I’ll be eternally grateful.

7. “Stop apologising”

I’m always over apologetic or polite as I find it comforting in some sort of weird way. My anxiety disorders mean that I’m always relying on people or letting people down and In return I feel guilty or a burden.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog – I love a good old rant. This isn’t a post to put people on edge around what they do and don’t say but by being mindful, empathetic and respectful towards others around what you do and don’t say as well as wording things differently.

If you know someone with anxiety disorder or have anxiety disorder yourself please share, comment and contact me about your experiences.

Always be kind.

Sinead x

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