When Someone You Love Has Anxiety

When you love someone with anxiety. Man. Woman. Child.

Anxiety is unpredictable, confusing and intrusive. It’s tough. Not just for the people who have it but also for the people who love them. If you are one of those people, you would know too well that the second hand experience of anxiety feels bad enough – you’d do anything to make it better for the one going through it.

We all have our ‘stuff’ – the things that we struggle with. Ultimately, they are the things that will make us braver, wiser, stronger, more compassionate and better humans. It’s just the way it works. The difference with anxiety is that the struggle is more visible.

Whether we struggle with anxiety, confidence, body image – whatever – there are things that we all need to make the world a little bit safer, a little bit more predictable, a little less scary. We all have our list. When someone you love has anxiety, their list is likely to look at little like this:

  1. It’s no biggie. So don’t act like it is.

    In the thick of an anxiety attack nothing will make sense, so best not to ask what’s going on or if they’re okay. No. They won’t be okay. And yes. It will feel like the world is falling apart at the seams. They’ll be feeling awful, but they’ll get through it. If you’ve seen it all before there’ll be no need to ask anyway – and they’ll love that you know not to. Ask if they want to go somewhere else – maybe somewhere quieter or more private.  Don’t panic or do anything that might give them the idea that you need looking after. Go for a walk with them – physical activity is the natural end of the fight or flight response, which is the trigger point of anxiety. Otherwise just be there. They’ll know what to do. They’ll have done it plenty of times before. Soon it will pass and when it does they’ll be able to talk to you about what has happened, but wait for that. Then listen. We all love when someone is able to just be there.

  2. There’s a bit to know, so if you can understand everything you can … well that makes you kind of awesome.

    It makes a difference to be able to talk about anxiety without having to explain it. On the days they don’t feel like they have it in them to talk about it, it means a lot that you just ‘get it’. If you’ve tried to understand everything you can about what it means to have anxiety then that’s enough. Anxiety is hard to make sense of – people with anxiety will be the first to tell you that – but it will mean everything that you’ve tried. They’ll love you for it.

    [irp posts=”1100″ name=”The Things I’ve Learned About Anxiety – That Only People With Anxiety Could Teach Me”]

  3. It’s physical.

    Anxiety is a completely normal physical response to a brain that’s being a little over-protective. It’s not crazy and it’s not deficient. There’s a primitive part of the brain that’s geared to sense threat. It’s all action and not a lot of thought and it’s in all of us. For some people, it fires up a lot sooner and with a lot less reason than it does in others. When it does, it surges the body with cortisol (the stress hormone) and adrenalin to get the body ready to run for its life or fight for it. This is the fight or flight response and it’s in everyone. It’s just that in some people (people with anxiety) the ‘go’ button is a bit more sensitive.

  4. You’ll want them as part of your tribe. (Seriously. They’re pretty great to have around.)

    Because of their need to stay safe and to prepare against the next time anxiety rears its head, people who struggle with anxiety will generally have a plan – and they will have worked hard to make sure it works for everyone involved, not just for themselves. They’ll make sure everything has been organised to keep everyone safe, happy, on time and out of trouble. They’ll make sure everyone has what they need and if there’s anything that hasn’t been thought of, well it’s probably not worth thinking about. Notice the good things they do – there are plenty. Let them know you love them because of who they are, including who they are with anxiety, not despite it.

  5. Anxiety has nothing to do with courage or character. Nothing at all.

    Courage is feeling the edge of yourself and moving beyond it. We all have our limits but people with anxiety are just more aware of theirs. Despite this, they are constantly facing up to the things that push against their edges. That’s courage, and people with anxiety have it in truckloads. Remind them that you see who they are and that this has nothing to do with that anxiety thing they do sometimes. People with anxiety are strong – you have to be to live with something like that. They’re sensitive – they’ll be as sensitive to you and what you need as they are to their environment. That makes them pretty awesome to be with. They’re reliable – to control for the potential of something triggering an attack, anxious people will go the extra step to make sure there’s a plan and that everyone is safe, happy and have everything they need. They’re intelligent – they’re thinkers (which is what gets in their way sometimes). They can be funny, kind, brave and spirited. So I suppose it’s like this – they’re no different to anyone else. As with everyone, the thing that trips them up sometimes (their anxiety) is also the thing that lifts them above the crowd.

  6. Make sure there’s room to say ‘no’. And don’t take it personally.

    Sometimes plans might need to be changed to steer clear of anxiety stepping in unexpectedly. People with anxiety will be sensitive to your needs (they’re pretty great like that) and changing plans isn’t something they’ll do lightly. Your flexibility will never be taken for granted. There are many things in the environment that most people think nothing of, but which can be the beginning of an anxiety attack for a brain on hyper-drive. Things that are ambiguous or neutral can sometimes be read as a threat – not by the person, but by an overprotective brain. People with anxiety are super-aware of everything going on – smells, sounds, people, possibilities. It’s exhausting when your attention is drawn to so many things. Don’t take ‘no’ personally – they’re never meant like that. Know that just because they might not want to be doing what you’re doing, that doesn’t mean they don’t want to be with you. Keep offering – don’t assume everything you offer will be met with ‘no’ – but be understanding and ‘no big deal’ if you aren’t taken up on your offer. They are saying no to a potential anxiety attack. Not to you.

    [irp posts=”824″ name=”Anxiety in Kids: How to Turn it Around and Protect Them For Life”]

  7. Loads of lovin’ never hurt anyone.

    Be compassionate and be there. Talk up the things you love about them. There will be times that people with anxiety will feel like they are their anxiety and that they are a source of difficulty. (Who hasn’t felt like they’re making things harder than they need to be? C’mon be honest.) Specifically, I’m talking about when plans have to be changed, when you need to book a few rows back from the front row, turn the radio down, take the long way. If this is the worst you have to deal with in a friend, sign me up.

  8. Anxiety can change shape.

    Anxiety can be slippery. Sometimes it looks the way you’d expect anxiety to look. Other times it looks cranky, depressed or frustrated. Remember this and don’t take it personally.

  9. Don’t try to make sense of what’s happening.

    People with anxiety know that their anxiety doesn’t make sense. That’s what makes it so difficult. Explaining that there’s nothing to worry about won’t mean anything – it just won’t – because they already know this. (Oh boy do they know this!) They would have told themselves not to worry a billion times the number of times you’ve said it to them. If it hasn’t helped so far then one more won’t make a difference. Be understanding, calm and relaxed and above all else, just be there. Anxiety feels flighty and there’s often nothing that feels better than having someone beside you who’s grounded, available and okay to go through this with you without trying to change you. Telling them not to worry is as effective as asking you not to think about pink elephants. Really try not to think about pink elephants swinging from a vine. With flowers in their hair. Just stop thinking about them, those crazy big pink babes. See how that works?

  10. Don’t try to change them.

    You’ll want to give advice. But don’t. Let them know that to you, they’re absolutely fine the way they are and that you don’t need to change them or fix them. If they ask for your advice then of course, go for it. but otherwise, let them know that they are enough. More than enough actually. Just the way they are. 

  11. ‘You just need to get over it,’ said the person who doesn’t get it.
  12. Anxiety just happens and often there’s no real target. So if you’re suggesting they just need to ‘get over it’, the obvious question is get over what? If people with anxiety only needed a bit of direction to ‘get over it’, they would have given it to themselves and been over it long ago. Telling them to get over it is like telling them they’re doing something wrong. You don’t tell an asthmatic just to breathe. Tough love isn’t love. It’s just tough. Actually it isn’t even that.

  13. Don’t confuse their need to control their environment with their need to control you. Sometimes they look the same. They’re not.

    The need to control for everything that might go wrong is hard work. For the same reasons that drive anxious people to make sure that everyone has what they need, everyone is looked after, that things are under control and the likelihood of anything turning bad is minimised – for the same reasons you’re looked after – you might also feel controlled. See it for what it is. It’s the need to feel safe and in control of the possibility of anxiety running the show – not the need to control you. You might get frustrated – that’s okay – all relationships go through that. Having compassion doesn’t mean you have to go along with everything put in front of you, so talk things out gently if you need to. Don’t be critical though. Nobody likes that.  Just remember, while your resistance might look more like a ‘won’t’ theirs looks more like a ‘can’t’.

And finally …

Know how important you are to them. Anyone who stays around through the hard stuff is a keeper. People with anxiety know this. Being there for someone during their struggles will only bring the relationship closer. Nothing sparks a connection more than really getting someone, being there, and bringing the fun into the relationship – because you’ve gotta have fun. Be the one who refuses to let anxiety suck the life of out everything. And know you’re a keeper. Yep. You are. Know that they are grateful – so grateful – for everything you do. And that they love you back.

342 Comments

A.C.T.

This articles biggest point I got out of it was the fight or flight….for both of us. Let me explain.

My wife has all but given up in everything. I think this is her flight reaction. I am frozen with no direction when everything I do, or offer, is always the opposite of what she wants in that instance. (If I ever get it right, I might be at about 20% right and 80% wrong on my guesses) Does that mean I have anxiety? I don’t think I do.

This pandemic has exasperated the feeling of her giving up. She doesn’t want to do anything, watch anything, take care of our son, decide on dinners. She wants to sleep and play video games. I’ve tried bribing her with her favourite meals, I’ve had to push her out the door to see friends she wants to see, but the long drive gives her anxiety. I tried to hold her hand on the drive, as much as I could, but I need both hands to drive. I give her small tasks, so she has a sense of accomplishment, but she’s managed to bungle up most of them or she forgets, I just pick up the slack and pieces. She feels worse for screwing up these small things and feels bad, and as frustrated as I am with having to do every little task, I (kind of) get it. Am I wrong to help nudge her? It seems every nudge, regardless of direction, is always the wrong answer. If I don’t nudge her, she says I should know better and be more supportive, if I nudge her and she fails, it’s my fault for pushing her, she told me she didn’t want to do it. If I support her in cleaning the kitchen, setting the table, vacumming the house before her big Christmas dinner and leave some chocolates on the table she asks, “is that your contribution to the whole dinner?”. I don’t want to take it personally, but her snide remarks are attacking me personally. How does everyone supporting with those loved ones who have anxiety, deal with it? I’d really like to know how to “not take it personally”. I didn’t react negatively, I just let it slide off my back, and said, “your dad will love them.”

What do you say when the person with anxiety gets very upset? I’m constantly getting yelled at for “standing there with nothing to say”. I don’t know what to say, I have a million thoughts running through me, but everyone of them would probably make things worse when we argue. It’s rarely an argument, it’s more like her being upset with something or me and yelling at me and then pulling everything out for the last 17 years that I have ever said or done that offended her. I can’t win against a list that only gets longer each time and the stories get twisted over time. If I try to hug her and tell her it will be alright, she pushes me away. If I don’t hug her, she’ll say, “can’t you see I just need a hug! don’t just stand there”. I’m also frozen. I’m normally the kind of guy who believes growth only comes if you will make yourself uncomfortable. But I’m frozen when it comes to her anxiety because I am always wrong in my words and action. I don’t find all her arguments logical, and I can’t argue against something illogical. That’s not how my brain works. Her memories are spotty in places, partially from therapy, partially from meds, partially from over exhaustion when she was a new mom. I don’t even want to argue, I’m not even the kind of guy who wants to fight about anything, I just want to know what I can do to fix it, which I know I can’t, but now it has me frozen. When I am the one to vent, that’s all I want, is what we can do together to make it better in the future. She knows how I think and can ask, but she gives up as soon as she realizes it’s not simple, like her refusing to live within a budget because tracking expenses and receipts are a lot of work. I want to hug it away, or give her space, whatever she needs, but I’m wrong 80% of the time, how can I pick? Between the extra chores, and taking care of our son, I’m awake most days from 7am to midnight. I don’t stop or sit until after 10pm most days. I only have so much energy and patience in week or a month or a year. She wants a divorce every 6 months for something small to me, but it’s huge to her. I say it’s so small, it’s not worth fighting about, she says I don’t care how she feels. How do I wrap my head around how big or small something is for someone with anxiety?

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Mark R

I have been searching for information on Anxiety as I am dating a sweet girl for about 3 months now – anxiety is something she is getting counselling for, so I am trying to understand it better for both me and, maybe one day, for her.

But your post smacked of familiarity to me. I had similar experiences with my previous partner of 3.5 years. The description you gave about freezing with no idea how to fix something you so desperately wanted to fix struck a chord with me. Your description of her frustration with you either helping too much or not enough (such as with the Christmas dinner, or whether you hug her enough/too much!) resonated with my experiences. Sadly, my partner and I split up, though in hindsight it was for the better, for me at least.

The only advice I can offer, if you want it and as someone not qualified in mental health professionally but has lived through and experienced enough of it, is to seek professional help for both of you. The most difficult part will be the anticipation of bringing this up with her; I would imagine it will require a hell of a lot of courage and, in your mind, maybe timing? Chose an opportunity when you can be alone to talk it through with her, be honest with how the current situation is making YOU feel (don’t talk for HER!), tell her what you would like in your ideal future together, then receive her reaction (it could be very fierce!) – wait until she is finished, listen carefully, then reaffirm your ideal future together. Then she may receive THAT message a little easier, to which you can then bring up counselling together.

I sincerely hope you both have a happy future together and will keep my fingers crossed for you both. Much love, bro x

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florica d

hi, my son is 30 years old and 2 months ago started for the first time feeling anxious and scared of loosing his job due to corona situation. It got worst and he wanted to quit his job because he feels not being productive and feels guilty . He lives in a different country from me with his wife and they just bought a house in June. We talk every day and keeps telling me he is scared and never felt like this before, can’t concentrate and i can see on his face the sadness and i dont know how to help him. Please what should i do? His wife is trying so hard but he cant get out of it . Should i tell him what i think like he suffers from anxiety or i shouldnt? It’s ok to tell him that he needs professional help or not? please help as i dont know how to talk to him. Thank you

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Gerard

These are helpful tips, not only for anxiety but in dealing with the daily stresses we find ourselves in. Very worth reading content, Thanks for sharing!

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Vinny

My partner is dealing with GAD and it gets triggered often by things which might look pointless but it does.it gets worst sometimes and leads us to argument fight and abuse . I always try to be calm with her most of the time.

I most of the time fail to help her get out of it and find myself helpless but I really need to learn someways to support her during those worst episodes and bring her back to normal . She is highly intelligent and creative and likes to be appreciated for every thing she does.

She is as described in the article very over protective and highly caring and plan things in advance .

But when it triggers her it definitely makes her feel sick and I need some advise and inputs as in what way I can make her feel better.

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Oscar

Living with someone with anxiety is a pain in the flippin arse. If I had my time again I would never have opted into it. He can’t get a driving licence because it would make him too anxious, so I do all the driving, and we live miles from anywhere. He can’t go to the supermarket, so I have to do all the shopping (we live in a remote area and shops are miles away). He won’t travel anywhere on holidays or attend any events whatsoever (parties, weddings, etc), so I go alone to those. Obviously we never go out, to restaurants or the cinema or anything. He can’t get even himself to the doctor or the dentist, let alone take our son to the doctor or dentist, so I have to take our son to all appointments and then practically trick him, an adult, into visiting either in an emergency. It’s been nearly 20 years. I’m demoralised. I feel like I’m a parent to him, which is deeply unsexy. He refuses to seek any help. And yet all I ever see is articles telling me how I can do more for him, when in fact I’m the one who’s been making his life possible for two decades. What I’d like to see for once is an article entitled something like: ‘So you suffer from anxiety? Here’s an inkling of what your partner might have been going through because of it’. That’s all. Sorry for ranting. I’m flippin exhausted

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SB

YOU ARE NOT ALONE, I M IN THE SAME BOAT,PARENTING MY PARTNER ON MANY SIMILAR ISSUES PLUS HE HAS BIPOLAR DISORDER TOO.

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Chiara C

So relieved to read this, my husband has been suffering with health anxiety since March 2019, and I have been sick and frustrated with me adapting to meet his needs. Fortunately he has seemed help and it has improved. But I do understand what you are feeling. I honestly think if he hadn’t started help I would have walked out, many times I sat in the car thinking about walking away. Anyway help is the key, to not even try I think is selfish as it monopolizes the relationship. Good luck to you.

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Shelly

I really feel for your situation. I suffer with chronic anxiety and it is debilitating but I’m also very stubborn, I refuse to let it define me. Your spouse has lost the fight, it’s easier to wallow in the own little world then face up to life. Unfortunately you have had to take on the ‘life stuff’ yourself and I wonder if by doing so you have unintentionally made him more unwilling to try. I’m really hoping that doesn’t sound harsh. Maybe time apart would heal some wounds. I hope everything work out for you.

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Mary

Oh my god! I am hearing u. I feel like my other half had the anxiety under control until he realised I could maybe do life for him. He does nothing anymore except his little routines, kind of like self soothing things- I love him but I don’t think I can do the rest of my life like this. I left a 23 year relationship because my ex was like that- without the anxiety- just always let me organise absolutely everything and I Always feel like they are just being unaccountable- I get anxious and I have lived this way for more years than I dare to acknowledge- but I am diagnosed ADD (33)- my medications help me get over myself and on with living. But I can’t live his life for him and I am tired of always being in the firing line.

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Serena

Wow! I love that I have come across this. Thank you for sharing/venting. And that sucks you have to go through that. I have a partner with anxiety, we are just realising the extent of how it affects our lives. We are both 32 and I want to get married and have children and he just can’t get it over the line. He makes me feel like I am crazy for wanting these normal things. We fight so much and I’ve never cried so many tears because of the way he makes me feel. I am not sure if I should get out if this relationship now or persist with him. He’s a wonderful person aside from his anxiety. They seem incapable of love and distant all the time.

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Wife of person with anxiety

Im tired of “walking on eggshells” all the time with husband. I recently read an article on anxiety and he shows a lot of the symptoms of something called underlying anxiety or latent or something. Always tapping your foot etc, always irritated etc. I just thought he was a jerk now im trying to understand a little better. We are married but barely. (I found out he was cheating 5 years ago (for over half our marriage). It almost killed me but by now we’re actually good enough friends. Im not looking at him as anything other than a friend. Whatever romantic feelings i had for him finally left 5 years ago). But i want to know what we should think of when the person denies they have a mental problem and the other person is forced to “walk on eggshells “ for lack of a better term? I hear we should “have compassion” but what does that mean? Try not to irritate them? Years ago i too learned to just nod and agree. But then they don’t like that either. But thats my go-to behavior. It seems like the advice we are given is nice enough, but then it seems like we as the partner are losing ourselves in the end…im probably just being annoying! Just having a rough Sunday.

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Kelly

You are defiantly not annoying!!! It’s a real difficult situation.. actually sad because they won’t get help… My spouse is in denial as well.. won’t even do marriage counseling. Yes, I need to do better at nodding and agreeing— it’s mentally draining trying to explain things as it just doesn’t sink in with him.

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Ellie Davis

It’s interesting to know that anxiety is a physical response to a brain that is being over-protective. My husband and I will be having his sister over for a couple of months, and we are looking for advice because she suffers from anxiety problems. I will pass this information to him to make sure we both understand how anxiety works and how to help her.

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Brad W

I am 35 years old and didn’t realize that I may have anxiety until recently when I started reading up on it & every damn thing I read is spot on with the way I feel. I am a relationship with 3 children and lately it seems as if my disorder has gotten intense. We fight almost constantly about the most ridiculous things, I used to think every fight was her fault cause she is “crazy”, but I’m slowly started to think maybe I’m the crazy one. I’ve had issues in the past with alcohol and drugs mainly marijuana. Looking at it now I guess I was subconsciously self-medicating. So i now have my first appointment scheduled with a psychiatrist but i still haven’t talked to my wife about my anxiety because i dont think she will understand. Because of my drug/alcohol past plus dramatics i caused i feel she won’t believe me and just claim I’m making it up or wanting attention or trying to be the victim or something. Lately my emotions feel like they have been getting more intense and i really dont want this family to be broken because of it if there is any advice anyone can give to help me in my situation please tell me. She is a good woman and i just want her to understand what this is and that it is real and not made up.

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Veronica

My partner has anxiety. And the article is on point, however I feel like I have exhausted all that I can do. I need some light shed my way so that I may continue to help and not to give up on us. We have been together for over 10 years and have a 5 year old. His anxiety has morphed into many stages and I am now at a point were I am struggling to want to be in the relationship. When we began dating, my partner had said he suffered from anxiety in his past. He had received treatment at a facility in Encino and it had worked for him. As time passed, his anxiety came back and he had stopped his treatment sessions. I encouraged him to go back, however he is at a point where we he cannot travel far without panic attacks. I hate saying this however, my son and I are like prisoners. We are unable to do things without my partner’s approval, just feeling trapped. I want to help, however I feel exhausted and just at the lowest point of unhappiness. We have tried neurofeedback system delivered at home however money became an issue. What can I do to help?

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Moira

It’s good to read the comments from those living with a partner with anxiety. The phrase “walking on eggshells”! That is my life. My husband’s anxiety is ramping up as he gets older. I am constantly on alert and it’s affecting my health. Perhaps meditation and more physical activity is the key because I MUST find a way to rise above what’s happening.

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Paul

As the partner with anxiety, I can reassure these things are true. I have been diagnosed with a form of childhood PTSD from the father that didn’t care about me and emotionally/mentally abused me. My mother has tried her best to be my dad and mom and has created, what I think, a very well rounded man.
That being said, I haven’t faced my problems head on until last year through therapy and that’s when all my 24 years of pent up stress and anxiety came out. I have made great progress but I’m still recovering and have anxiety and depression at times. It comes in waves and when I have my episodes, my partner holds me still, tells me that everything is going to be okay and we talk about it. This is the best way to help someone with anxiety; unconditional love and communication. I reassure her that i’m sorry and I wish she didn’t have to go through this too, even though I know it’s not my fault, but she’s always there in the end. The best way I have been able to describe the experience is
the fear you get in your nightmares of instant gloom and angst, like somethings chasing you but no matter how hard you run, you remain in place. You can’t breath, you are irrational and negative and as a man, it makes me feel like less than because I don’t feel strong or manly. I’m slowly learning that it doesn’t matter, all that matters is being me and working through it.
It takes a strong person with anxiety to live a normal life but it takes and even stronger person to love them.

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Lurd TK

Hi Karen,

What an amazing post. I have learned a lot of ways to to cope with an overly anxious partner. Especially, when you talked about trying to change them. (Anxious partners)

I totally I agree with you that letting them know that they are fine the way they are is far more better than trying to change them in any way.

Nonetheless, I would like to add 3 more things to avoid while dating someone with anxiety and they are: #1 Don’t criticize them for having anxiety. #2 Don’t  lose your temper or patience every time the anxiety flares up. And finally, #3 Never recommend drugs for their anxiety because, you are not a psychiatrist.

Doing any of them would hurt One’s partner, making the anxiety worst and creating more stress in the relationship.

Thanks.

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Mary D H

I have anxiety, the only time it flares up is when I know someone is not being honest with me or the circumstances around are not professional. Please don’t talk to me in a different tone than someone else. I am a human being, don’t talk about me behind my back. Don’t tell me what I see, is not correct. I am not blind, but your setting off my anxiety.

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Bryan

What you describe sounds like normal human behavior. I am no doctor, but everyone does and should expect a certain level of respect.

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Lurd-TK

Hi Karen,

What an amazing post. I have learned a lot of ways to to cope with an overly anxious partner. Especially, when you talked about trying to change them. (Anxious partners)

I totally I agree with you that letting them know that they are fine the way they are is far more better than trying to change them in any way.

Nonetheless, I would like to add 3 more things to avoid while dating someone with anxiety and they are: #1 Don’t criticize them for having anxiety. #2 Don’t  lose your temper or patience every time the anxiety flares up. And finally, #3 Never recommend drugs for their anxiety because, you are not a psychiatrist.

Doing any of them would hurt One’s partner, making the anxiety worst and creating more stress in the relationship.

Thanks.

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Ann D

i might have missed it but i dont recall the idea of the person seeking proffessional help for their issues. If all you do is support by enabling how does anything ever get better for the sufferer and their partner. Surely you should be there to support them but by doing that isnt it possible to move forward with proffessionals. People wear out after a while, no matter how much you love them.

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S.

I 100% agree. You can accept a Person without accepting their Behavior. People with anxiety need HELP. They need help for their own comfort, sure, but also to keep their behavior from ruining their lives. Just read these comments. Many of them sound less like an anxious partner (although they might well be that), and more like a person who rationalizes and excuses abusive behavior by saying they are anxious and can’t change. Which is a LOAD OF SH*T. Get some Therapy (DBT is good for this stuff), learn to meditate, and stop treating people like some kind of thing that is there only to support you. You don’t get to outsource your mental health, and if someone else tries to do that To you, LEAVE THEM.

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Anon

That’s the difference then . If they are trying to change by learning and meditation, isnt that enough?
Or do you keep attacking THEM telling them their behaviour needs to change even when then they are not doing anything wrong?
Telling them they need to do more than meditate?
In fact by saying that its only making it all worse?
At what point to we say i need to see my role in this and compassion is important.

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Kate

Sooooo I’m wondering how to navigate my new life style, my 28 year old step daughter moved back in with her daughter who’s 5 my husband and I understood that this was needed because she has anxiety , my granddaughter was tested in school and found to be on the autism spectrum ( she’s just now starting to develop language) also shortly after they moved in my husband had what can only be described as a mental break ie sudden onset anxiety disorder. So I’m having a lot of difficulty seeing to all their needs and wants while trying to maintain my own damn sanity….. any suggestions would be appreciated.

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Elena

Thank you so much for sharing this information ❤️
I hope that you know this has changed lives and helped others understand what people with anxiety go through.
God bless you❤️

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Reed T

Hello. I am a 21 year old college student that has suffered with anxiety for the majority of my life. As a young child my mother would tell me stories about how impactful my anxiety could be to my everyday life. I have been in a committed relationship for about a year and a half now. We have a beautiful bond, goals, personalities and the like, but my anxiety causes terrible arguments. I am learning more about my anxiety and how to control my reactions, but I feel like he doesn’t understand me completely. If he does, he responds in a very negative way. He usually becomes very hostile, shuts down, makes me feel like a crazy lunatic. When I tell him to just give me a hug or comfort me in situations like this he replies, “He shouldn’t have to “‘baby”‘ me.” I don’t know how to help him understand. Sometimes I worry that these arguments will eventually break us apart. To think that is devastating, considering that my anxiety is the only culprit.

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Lucinda

I’m married to a man that has anxieties he tells me I don’t understand what he’s going through yes and I have made the comment that what do you want me to do cradle you I’m trying to understand what to do for people with anxieties. Some of the things you have written i have seen in our relationship.
My husband has the mood swings I thought he might be bipolar I see now it the anxiety.

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Maxima

Hi Everyone.

I’ve been reading up a lot lately on living with a partner who has anxiety.
In most articles, there is mention of ‘just being there’ for them. I’m not exactly sure of what this means.

I spend a lot of time talking to my partner. I actively listen to my partner (diagnosed with anxiety as a child) when they seem anxious or frustrated. But I never really know what to say to make it better. I’ll listen with all my time and attention but I just feel lost with trying to respond in a way that allows my partner with anxiety to feel comfortable or consoled. I don’t know what the right words to say are, if there are any at all.

How do you all think I can be there for my partner in a more effective and sensitive way?

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c g

my spouse has severe anxiety kicks. i learnt that being quiet and nodding is the key. but later he would argue with me for not caring enough to react to his actions. it feels like a cycle of never ending frustration.. it feels like he just wants to take it out on whatever is near by. the fan , the heater , the window, me.. i have learned to brush it off… with anxiety comes grumpiness , frustration , argument fight .

little things like room temperature , noise of clock ticking seems to give him anxiety and he becomes very irrational . he becomes violent and throws the remote on the ground . i got hit by remote as he was frustrated. i am helpless and speechless. you can control yourself and not the world. perfect example is when hes driving he gets triggered by someone making mistakes on the road. he once chased a guy who made wrong turn. when it rains, he talks about how the slipper road causes accident for 2 straight hours and blames me for being ignorant an not knowing or understanding his ordeal. i just dont know what to do or say because everything i say or do is gonna be blamed and he would point all fault on me . pour all his frustration on me . its like walking on egg shells.

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Karyn

He sounds very abusive. Anxiety is a horrible thing to deal with, but I think it does not excuse violent behavior. You sound like a lovely person, who is scared and frustrated too. Would you consider getting help for yourself, to build up your strength to set boundaries? Constant criticism and living in fear are not OK. You don’t deserve that. It’s not your fault. It’s ok if you’ve reached your limit and need to go. You matter too. Your happiness matters too. He sounds like he needs serious CBT and anger management. I wish you all the very best of luck xx

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Carla F

Oh yeah – he’s got bigger issues.
It’s him – not you.
Be careful.

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Joan

All I can say is living with someone with anxiety is very very hard. I get tired of always walking on eggshell. It was’t bad at first. He would have infrequent bouts of anxiety, he would snap and ask for a time out sometimes it would take as long as 30 minutes to get some control and he wasnt really medicated when we started dating and now he is medicated on another chemical cocktail and I might get 5-10 minutes out of him of pleasant behavior on work nights and a little more on the weekends. I walk on eggshells most of the time when I am around him now because I can feel the anxiety simmering in his voice when he talks. Tonight was a perfect example of irrational behavior, we went to dinner, he became impatient with the service, snap at me asking if I was done, I explained I just took my last bite, he requested the check and we left. Our Saturday night date including transportation to and from the restaurant lasted 70 minutes.
In the past he use to apologize for being an ass, and tell me I do not deserve to be treated the like that, well that hasn’t happen in a while. It did help when he did that. I also watch him struggle. He wishes he could turn off his brain. He describes it as being in prison with an occasional furlough for good behavior. Sad thing is he had a PET scan that confirms his description of his anxiety state. The pyschiatrist said his brain never really turns off. So what am I to do??? It is not his fault but jeez this is hard. And this is from someone whose husband died from a chronic debilitating illness that required daily dialysis at home the last three years of his life. Any insight would be helpful

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Joshua B

I’m a 48 year old male who was diagnosed with ADHD at 47. I was misdiagnosed for times. The last time, I was diagnosed with generalized Anxiety disorder. ADHD does bring with it a lot of anxiety particularly if there hasn’t been a proper diagnosis. Because the person has been living with ADHD their entire lives. I know this is an old post, but your husband symptoms sound like mine. Once I got proper treatment and proper medication… All the anxiety left.

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When things feel hard or the world feels big, children will be looking to their important adults for signs of safety. They will be asking, ‘Do you think I'm safe?' 'Do you think I can do this?' With everything in us, we have to send the message, ‘Yes! Yes love, this is hard and you are safe. You can do hard things.'

Even if we believe they are up to the challenge, it can be difficult to communicate this with absolute confidence. We love them, and when they're distressed, we're going to feel it. Inadvertently, we can align with their fear and send signals of danger, especially through nonverbals. 

What they need is for us to align with their 'brave' - that part of them that wants to do hard things and has the courage to do them. It might be small but it will be there. Like a muscle, courage strengthens with use - little by little, but the potential is always there.

First, let them feel you inside their world, not outside of it. This lets their anxious brain know that support is here - that you see what they see and you get it. This happens through validation. It doesn't mean you agree. It means that you see what they see, and feel what they feel. Meet the intensity of their emotion, so they can feel you with them. It can come off as insincere if your nonverbals are overly calm in the face of their distress. (Think a zen-like low, monotone voice and neutral face - both can be read as threat by an anxious brain). Try:

'This is big for you isn't it!' 
'It's awful having to do things you haven't done before. What you are feeling makes so much sense. I'd feel the same!

Once they really feel you there with them, then they can trust what comes next, which is your felt belief that they will be safe, and that they can do hard things. 

Even if things don't go to plan, you know they will cope. This can be hard, especially because it is so easy to 'catch' their anxiety. When it feels like anxiety is drawing you both in, take a moment, breathe, and ask, 'Do I believe in them, or their anxiety?' Let your answer guide you, because you know your young one was built for big, beautiful things. It's in them. Anxiety is part of their move towards brave, not the end of it.
Sometimes we all just need space to talk to someone who will listen without giving advice, or problem solving, or lecturing. Someone who will let us talk, and who can handle our experiences and words and feelings without having to smooth out the wrinkles or tidy the frayed edges. 

Our kids need this too, but as their important adults, it can be hard to hush without needing to fix things, or gather up their experience and bundle it into a learning that will grow them. We do this because we love them, but it can also mean that they choose not to let us in for the wrong reasons. 

We can’t help them if we don’t know what’s happening in their world, and entry will be on their terms - even more as they get older. As they grow, they won’t trust us with the big things if we don’t give them the opportunity to learn that we can handle the little things (which might feel seismic to them). They won’t let us in to their world unless we make it safe for them to.

When my own kids were small, we had a rule that when I picked them up from school they could tell me anything, and when we drove into the driveway, the conversation would be finished if they wanted it to be. They only put this rule into play a few times, but it was enough for them to learn that it was safe to talk about anything, and for me to hear what was happening in that part of their world that happened without me. My gosh though, there were times that the end of the conversation would be jarring and breathtaking and so unfinished for me, but every time they would come back when they were ready and we would finish the chat. As it turned out, I had to trust them as much as I wanted them to trust me. But that’s how parenting is really isn’t it.

Of course there will always be lessons in their experiences we will want to hear straight up, but we also need them to learn that we are safe to come to.  We need them to know that there isn’t anything about them or their life we can’t handle, and when the world feels hard or uncertain, it’s safe here. By building safety, we build our connection and influence. It’s just how it seems to work.♥️
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#parenting #parenthood #mindfulparenting
Words can be hard sometimes. The right words can be orbital and unconquerable and hard to grab hold of. Feelings though - they’ll always make themselves known, with or without the ‘why’. 

Kids and teens are no different to the rest of us. Their feelings can feel bigger than words - unfathomable and messy and too much to be lassoed into language. If we tap into our own experience, we can sometimes (not all the time) get an idea of what they might need. 

It’s completely understandable that new things or hard things (such as going back to school) might drive thoughts of falls and fails and missteps. When this happens, it’s not so much the hard thing or the new thing that drives avoidance, but thoughts of failing or not being good enough. The more meaningful the ‘thing’ is, the more this is likely to happen. If you can look behind the words, and through to the intention - to avoid failure more than the new or difficult experience, it can be easier to give them what they need. 

Often, ‘I can’t’ means, ‘What if I can’t?’ or, ‘Do you think I can?’, or, ‘Will you still think I’m brave, strong, and capable of I fail?’ They need to know that the outcome won’t make any difference at all to how much you adore them, and how capable and exceptional you think they are. By focusing on process, (the courage to give it a go), we clear the runway so they can feel safer to crawl, then walk, then run, then fly. 

It takes time to reach full flight in anything, but in the meantime the stumbling can make even the strongest of hearts feel vulnerable. The more we focus on process over outcome (their courage to try over the result), and who they are over what they do (their courage, tenacity, curiosity over the outcome), the safer they will feel to try new things or hard things. We know they can do hard things, and the beauty and expansion comes first in the willingness to try. 
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#parenting #mindfulparenting #positiveparenting #mindfulparent
Never in the history of forever has there been such a  lavish opportunity for a year to be better than the last. Not to be grabby, but you know what I’d love this year? Less opportunities that come in the name of ‘resilience’. I’m ready for joy, or adventure, or connection, or gratitude, or courage - anything else but resilience really. Opportunities for resilience have a place, but 2020 has been relentless with its servings, and it’s time for an out breath. Here’s hoping 2021 will be a year that wraps its loving arms around us. I’m ready for that. x
The holidays are a wonderland of everything that can lead to hyped up, exhausted, cranky, excited, happy kids (and adults). Sometimes they’ll cycle through all of these within ten minutes. Sugar will constantly pry their little mouths wide open and jump inside, routines will laugh at you from a distance, there will be gatherings and parties, and everything will feel a little bit different to usual. And a bit like magic. 

Know that whatever happens, it’s all part of what the holidays are meant to look like. They aren’t meant to be pristine and orderly and exactly as planned. They were never meant to be that. Christmas is about people, your favourite ones, not tasks. If focusing on the people means some of the tasks fall down, let that be okay, because that’s what Christmas is. It’s about you and your people. It’s not about proving your parenting stamina, or that you’ve raised perfectly well-behaved humans, or that your family can polish up like the catalog ones any day of the week, or that you can create restaurant quality meals and decorate the table like you were born doing it. Christmas is messy and ridiculous and exhausting and there will be plenty of frayed edges. And plenty of magic. The magic will happen the way it always happens. Not with the decorations or the trimmings or the food or the polish, but by being with the ones you love, and the ones who love you right back.

When it all starts to feel too important, too necessary and too ‘un-let-go-able’, be guided by the bigger truth, which is that more than anything, you will all remember how you all felt – as in how happy they felt, how loved they felt were, how noticed they felt. They won’t care about the instagram-worthy meals on the table, the cleanliness of the floors, how many relatives they visited, or how impressed other grown-ups were with their clean faces and darling smiles. It’s easy to forget sometimes, that what matters most at Christmas isn’t the tasks, but the people – the ones who would give up pretty much anything just to have the day with you.

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