Having anxiety issues is one of the most common mental health problems in the world with an estimated 18% of the total population already suffering from it. Apart from that, a lot of people are not diagnosed and face severe anxiety on a daily basis as well.
Last year, when I got to know that I’m having anxiety issues, I knew that I had to inform my friends and family. Trust me – talking about anxiety isn’t easy. At first, I simply avoided it and thought I could solve it on my own. Gradually, I realized that I needed to seek some help, which made me accept the issue in the long run.
Suggested read: How It Is For Someone Living With Anxiety: My Story
The good news is that my friends and family took it constructively and gave me nothing but unwavering support. Sadly, not everyone goes through the same. This is because a lot of people are not aware of anxiety and the kind of damage it can do to one’s life. If you have anxiety, then take it one step at a time. Talk about it to your friends and family and give them some time to process. While there is no strict rule book for it, I hope this post (and my experiences) will help you talk about your issues with your loved ones.
Why is it important to talk about anxiety with your loved ones?
A lot of people struggle to talk about their mental health problems with others due to numerous reasons. The moment you start talking about anxiety to your loved ones, you will have a liberating experience. It will help you accept yourself the way you are – with your flaws and issues.
They say honesty is the foundation of every relationship and you certainly can’t have a lasting relationship with someone if they don’t know about your anxiety issues. For instance, your partner, best friend, or parents deserve to know if you have anxiety. Not only will it let you be true to them, but it would also help them understand you in a better way.
While it might seem like a tough situation as of now, it will certainly prepare you for the journey ahead. The people who really care about you will keep you at peace and might turn out to be your greatest strength.
How to talk about anxiety with the people you love?
Talking about anxiety to your friends and family can be a challenging task. To start with, you can consider the following suggestions.
- Clear your mind
It is of utmost importance to have a clear mindset before taking any drastic step regarding your mental health. If you are seeing a therapist, then you can have a word with them beforehand as well. They can prepare you for the “the talk” by giving their valuable insights on anxiety and your behavior.
Take a step back and let go of any expectation. People react to these things differently. Understand that you can’t control the way people react. All you can do is be honest with them and give them enough time to come around.
You can also meditate a bit before talking about your mental health. Sometimes, a few breathing exercises can clear your mind and calm your senses. If you have a stable mindset, then you would certainly be able to handle the situation in a pragmatic manner.
- Know the right place and time
At the end of the day, it is all about the right place and time. When we talk about a mental health issue, we bare our soul and a personal part of ourselves in front of others. Needless to say, you should wait for the right time. If your parents or friends are already going through a rough phase, then you might consider waiting for a while.
Also, if they are in the middle of a public event, then you might think of another place. You should do it when you are comfortable to share details about your anxiety with others. It should not be forced upon you or the people around you.
If you want, you can also talk to them individually instead of simply declaring it out loud in public. I followed the same drill and it helped me a lot. As I individually informed my parents, partner, and my close friends about it, I was able to address it in a better way.
At the same time, try not to procrastinate it. While waiting for a few days is okay, you can’t simply hold on to it forever.
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- Educate them
A lot of people don’t know much about anxiety issues and the kind of drastic effects it can have on someone’s life. It might not be your job to educate them, but you can surely help them understand the issue.
Sit with them and have a heartfelt conversation about anxiety and the related issues. If possible, share some informative material with them as well. It can be a book or even an online source that would help them know more about anxiety.
- Give them time to understand
This might be the toughest part of the process, but you got to give them some time. You can’t expect them to come around in a day or two. It is important to give them some space and time so that they can prepare themselves.
While educating them, you should be neutral. Don’t paint a rosy picture. Instead, try to give them an honest idea. In this way, they would also have a more realistic approach to it. Although, it might frustrate you and can even make you more anxious, but you can’t force them to be okay with it. Have some patience and take it one day at a time.
- Don’t hide your emotions
Having “the talk” with the people around you is just a battle half won. You would have to show incredible strength afterward as well. I have noticed that a lot of people hide their emotions in the process just to please their loved ones. Don’t make this mistake and start by acknowledging your emotions.
For instance, if you are not happy with their response, then don’t overlook it. Try to address the issue and meet them halfway. Instead of changing yourself or suppressing your emotions, try to control the situation. It might seem like a tough phase, but it certainly can’t be tougher than you. All you got to do is be true to yourself and stop hiding from your feelings.
- Put your mental health first
When I shared my insecurities with my friends and family, I thought that I was giving them a hard time. This took a toll on my mental health as I started to question myself. It made me realize that a lot of times we put our own well-being in the back seat just to please our loved ones.
Yes – I know how important your friends and family can be to you. You should make an effort to please them, but while doing that, don’t forget about your own mental well-being. You should not apologize to them or feel bad just because you have anxiety issues.
We all deal with different issues on a daily basis – not all of them are visible. Don’t think too much or punish yourself. You have tried your best and have taken a leap of faith. Now, give some time and hope for the best instead of doubting yourself.
- Let them help you
If you are fortunate, then your friends and family will come around and understand the gravity of the situation. You could have built a wall around you to protect yourself, but now is the time to let your guard down. There is nothing wrong with accepting their help and finding comfort in their presence.
Let your loved ones help you deal with your anxiety issues. This will certainly help you get better and you would automatically feel relaxed, knowing that there are so many people by your side.
Have realistic expectations
This is something I would like to draw from my personal experience. Before you dive in, just make sure that you have a realistic outlook of the entire situation. Chances are that your parents might make a big deal about it or that your friends won’t be able to understand it altogether. It might happen that they would already have an idea about it and were waiting for you to take the lead.
Ideally, everyone goes through their own experience while dealing with mental issues like anxiety or depression. No matter how much you expect from people, it won’t change the fact that everyone around you is also human. You can’t expect them to be perfect or act a certain way. Though, you can let them know how much you care about them and that their support would mean the world to you.
Suggested read: Difference Between Anxiety And Depression And How They Manifest For Someone
It might not be so easy to talk about your anxiety issues, but it will certainly be of a great help to you in the long haul. It will take away a sense of unwanted baggage from your chest and you would be able to be true to yourself. Only the bravest of us are able to accept that we have a mental health issue, let alone sharing it with others. You are already halfway there. Go ahead and let your loved ones know about your journey as well. Trust me – it will be worth the effort.
Featured image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License