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.



My girlfriend of five years suffers from severe anxiety which seems to be getting worse. She hid her anxiety and panic attacks from me for over a year and put on a brave face when we were going places or doing things. I only eventually learnt of her anxiety when she had a break down in front of me during what I thought at the time was a normal situation. It has got to a point now where we can’t go shopping, see friends, go on holidays, or even mention an event without anxiety propping up and potentially bad attacks happening. I always try to support and help her through it in any way I can and I have tried to learn and understand as much as I can about the condition. Frustratingly though she sometimes becomes aggressive towards me when all I’m trying to do is help her. I wish so much for her to get better but I worry it will continue to get worse. She has had a therapist for over 6 months but it seems to of been of no benefit as she dismisses her techniques during anxiety attacks. It is very difficult because I love her and I want to travel the world, marry, have children and share great experiences with her. I worry though that her world will get smaller and smaller if it carries on this way and none of the above seems possible at the moment. I get upset because although I think it’s the anxiety speaking she seems to not want to change for the better and help herself. I don’t know what to think for the future, will it get better?


You have rightly said all the things in your blog. It is very important to understand your dear one’s mental state. Yes, it is true that you should not make an issue about it. Everyone has their own things and it is completely normal. My boyfriend has anxiety issues, and I understand him. Your blog is very helpful to the people like me. It is crucial to understand them and their needs. Thank you for sharing this.

Grad Student

Thank you so much for this article. I have been struggling for a few days now with overwhelming anxiety. My confusion is if it is intuition or just anxiety– which usually it is anxiety but makes me feel like its real and the things I worry about happening are real even though they are not. I am considering going back to a therapist but want to give it more time first because I would rather do it on my own. I have been on meds in the past and have seen a therapist but ever since I got off the meds and stopped seeing the therapist I felt proud of myself. Praying for everyone here to have relief from their anxiety and for the significant others! <3

Karen Young

It’s important to remember that anxiety is a warning, not a prediction. It has incredible capacity to make it seem as though your fears are reality, which is why anxiety can be so tough to deal with – but absolutely it can be managed. I can hear how important it is for you to do this on your own, but any time you change your mind and want a hand, know that the support is there. It doesn’t change how strong you are and in fact sometimes asking for help is the strongest thing you’ll do.


My son suffer from anxiety. right now he is not doing anything so he is always at home. sometimes he is ok and sometimes he just freeze and do nothing how can I help him pls. hes 20 yrs old he had been bullied at school and also in high school. I wish I can know how to help him cos my husband and I are very worried, we wish to help him so he can feel better. he is taking medication for anxiety. thanks.


My daughter suffers from anxiety and depression and has been in counseling since she was 15. She is now 26. I want to have a relationship with her, but it is hard because I feel attacked and hurt by her actions and words often. It’s hard not to take things she says personally and I find myself withdrawing from our relationship and it has become very superficial. I was fortunate to be able to stay home with both my children while they were growing up and gave them a lot of time and attention I have a great relationship with my son and my husband. I really long to have a similar relationship with my daughter but are feeling hopeless that we will get to that point. I feel like she spends a lot of time criticizing her family and friends and it’s really hard to be around. She can’t seem to find the good in anyone including herself. Any advice for me?


I’m 26 years old and I’ve had anxiety since I was 13. I’m so happy I found this article, even though it made me cry like a baby. This is so perfectly well described of how it is, and how it feels. Everything I just read is everything I’ve ever felt. Thank you for showing me I’m not alone.


My boyfriend and I have only been together for a month and I had no idea he had anxiety. One night I got drunk and stayed at a friends house, my boyfriend knew nothing had happened but he said i was so drunk that something could have happened. He said he doesnt trust me anymore and has been having anxiety attacks, but he doesn’t text me. I told him I would be there for him through his anxiety and I wanted to help him regain his trust for me but he doesn’t respond to my texts. How do I help him? I love him and I just want to see him happy. (he doesnt know I love him)


I have been married 31 years. My husband was diagnosed with generalized anxiety about 22 years ago, but I am not sure if he has GAD or PTSD (military and firefighter/first responder). We raised two children and he is now retired. I did anything and everything to keep it together through the depression, panic attacks, angry outburst – that included things flying through the air. At one point he became “immune” to his medication …. well the nightmare of that finally ended when he was placed on a different med. After retirement he decided he wasn’t stressed from work anymore and could go off his medication. I would dread coming home from work, not knowing who I would find angry/scared/suicidal/etc. He is now back on medication and has been really good for a while. However, now I am angry and want to walk away? I feel like I can’t stay another minute. Perhaps I gave too much for too long? I have tried counseling, but it really did not help me.


I have been married 24 years. My husband has anxiety – it’s new. He’s on meds but he’s still pretty bad all day, every day. I’m finding it hard to understand how you dealt with this for so long, it’s so hard. Can you take a long holiday? Can you trust him alone, or should he be with a relative (or would that not be a good idea…)? How are your children, how did you cope raising them? You sound like a strong person but you also sound done, like you want out now. Surely there comes a point when he has to help himself, especially after so long. I would be angry too. (I often am.)


Thank you firstly, for the article and all the readers comments.
Rather an eye opener to what I was somewhat shielding myself from maybe accepting about my behavior over the last year – as too, to the influence towards my partner.

Recently what seems to have been my body telling me that enough is enough, heavy chest/breathing issues, speedy heart, near fainting, loss of focus and vision – is that I am overloading myself with reaction to circumstances with stress. I have twice in the last year, faced losing highly interesting work positions for nothing more than poor management decisions, meaning, nothing to do with how good I did my awesome work and regardless how well I did, no influence in those positions. During which, quite some struggles in communications, leading to break down in communications with my partner. What was put on the table from her side was, that although I am used to dealing with issues on my own, I should tell her what I am going through and how I feel.
Its a struggle because I somewhat lack a respect for her opinion, as for the year and a half together, I have observed her behavior with her stress (specific to her past and family circumstances) and where she gets to her edge of breakdown, it would appear I am her support to not just deal with the situation but also grow from it. Right now with me in this state, doing as she suggests, telling her I am on my edge – I got the response that I should do what I think is best for me, she will support me and there is no pressure to consider her first… focus on me.

However, having a bit of stone in the stomach from experience where this is a bit of a mask attitude from her, where in reality, me utilizing this ‘free space’ somewhat starts a ticking bomb, which went off yesterday on a scenario where the precise words of ‘no pressure; do as you feel is best’ were then exploded with “why couldn’t you this once just do this for me”.

I definitely did not react with a cool head – I am working long days on complex processes and outputs with the uncertainty of the job continuing and the prolonged period of ups and downs in communication with my partner have me even more on edge and so, I gave her my perspective that I felt my honesty and openness in telling her my worries even against my intuition (as we were already on a week time out, but still living together) was abused – there in black and white written in messages… this has not been addressed from her side rather the past has been brought into it all how I let her down, how I am not making any improvements to myself (respective of depression and stress management) – which in fairness has been the case, I stopped sports, I started smoking, I stopped seeing friends – to the most part, stopped living, although there were good days where I held it together for the both of us and we had good times.

But since the body shock lets say, I quit smoking my 5+ a day, stopped coffees and started running and juicing (albeit just a few days now) and talking to friends. I am highly considering moving out of the environment I feel is not supportive of my needs and the back and forth with my partner is very unsetteling while I need to focus on work and my health. It turns out, that all this time she is telling me to care about me, what has pushed her to her limit is, that I don’t show I care for her – and in some respects, when affection is poked for, I am less interested to show it… I’d rather hand it out naturally, as I feel it – not for the sake of satisfying her expectation. Its exhausting me more and more – the blind rages of word exchanges bringing past topics and points in while ignoring the feelings of the other – on both sides. I am afraid there are too many additional complex elements in this also, whereby probably my stress management / anxiety, has me summarizing that it can’t work with this person, recalling more harmonious communication interactions with other partners… and then as I try to keep my cool, hiding in the office to try to work while she is at home – I recall her shouting at me that I need to get help… and although I feel p*ssed off that her outburst was as it was – somewhat kicking me while I am down on the principle of not getting what she wants even during a defined period of time with boundaries as to our interaction – I am agreeing with it, to at least explore how to deal with what I am experiencing and how to communicate it better. I figure that I need to find what I need to be better and if I feel that I want this addition of her character in my life, I need to communicate better what I am going through and suggest how she can help. In some sense though, it would be great to have someone (normally I play this role for others) to tell me its going to be ok and give me some guidance at the times where it seems to look like it is all going south at once. I guess again, that I need to assess what I feel she can provide to the relationship respective of what I feel I need… which is, even if long winded to get to the point, quite a step forward from the cycling thought patterns I have been experiencing for months now on the should I stay-should I go… Part of me, maybe the majority these days, wants a fresh start – as the entire relationship has had so many ups and downs, that the true self has been more revealed in the past months than the honeymoon phase which has presented a lot of challenges to mental health and physical well being for the both of us. Its just madness that being somewhat rational, there are times where it feels out of my control and spirals somewhat to a dark/destructive place – and its lonely there, my partner isn’t really the type to pay attention, to be aware and to react in a supporting manner but rather to point things out which she feels is right – I guess we all do the best we can… time will show on this one – but thanks for providing a platform to expand awareness… in my 31 years I really thought with all that I experienced so far from child abuse, bullying, heartbreak – that I had a good wrap on my stress management – this year just knocked me a good few steps back 🙁


Thank you so much for posting such an insightful piece. I could not have said it better myself. 🙂


Hi Karen,

My fiance of seven years, who i am set to marry next year increasingly suffers with anxiety. She talks about work and what would appear to be ‘everyday frustrations’ for long periods of time, probably at least an hour a day, going in circles without a clear point or conclusion. I have no idea what to say, she says i don’t contribute and have nothing to offer. I see myself as a good listening who is letting her get these things off her chest?

However, she is absolutely fantastic at her job and wherever she works is head and shoulders above the rest in every way. I really feel that she could go on to be something special at the right company. I am afraid however that her anxiety will never get better, and i f anything only worse? Does it get better?

Her anxiety appears in other ways, she is very emotional, unsettled easily and very indecisive. This does put pressure on me knowing what to do, all of the time – which i have and still struggle with. I have bought her books to help manage this, most she has read and loved. Is there anything you would advise me reading to help me understand better? Like this article has?

To a ‘normal’ level, I do feel like i try to help, try to understand but I don’t feel capable of giving her what she clearly needs. I feel like I am only told when i’m not doing enough, or telling me i don’t care or understand. I don’t want heaps of praise, but for those who don’t suffer anxiety – we need support too. Positive support that I need for my own confidence.

My biggest worry is that this has gotten dramatically worse in the last few years. Either i didn’t notice it before or it never existed.


My girlfriend of 3 to 4 months we connected on a deep level been there for eachother and all the good stuff. I’ve been digging deeper in the relationship to help us grow and i noticed her anxiety was there the whole time but added a life changing moment to her and her anxiety is getting worse. She’s got a solid hold of it but its not that easy is it? What else could i do? Im on the side lines it feels like. Does distance help anxiety depending on the person, or make it unable to control?

Karen Young

Everybody will have different things that will help them to feel more calm or safer. Ask your girlfriend what will help. It will mean a lot to her that you care enough to ask.


My 19 year old granddaughter has severe anxiety and I’ve always felt so inadequate when she’s troubled. Reading this amazing article shows me I’m doing ok in the why I try to help/comfort/support her and at the same time support her mum, my daughter.
What an amazing insightful article, thanks x

Karen Young

Your welcome. When you love someone with anxiety, it can be difficult to know whether or not you are doing enough, or whether you are doing the right thing. It sounds as though you are a wonderful strength to your granddaughter and your daughter. Keep doing what you’re doing x


My best friend, whom I love dearly has been struggling with anxiety for many years, and was diagnosed about 3 years ago. She’s in therapy, but drinking (which makes her either mean or completely distraught). I’m trying to be supportive but I don’t know when to be an ear and when to use “tough love”. Any suggestions would be appreciated, as I am emotionally exhausted with this.


“emotionally exhausted..” I think you are giving too much than what you should. Don’t be so very close to your friend. Distant yourself a little to see her from a different angle and take things lightly when your friend leaves you alone / make you feel sad / never being there for you. They can’t provide back what you give. Its never done on purpose but they are busy fighting a battle with their own mind.


My boyfriend suffers from anxiety. I believe it’s cognitive behaviour disorder (CBD).
Our main issue is that he just does not trust me. Everything I do is a threat to him. For example, if we are walking or go somewhere and a guy is in my passing and I happen to look, I get told that I was deliberately staring at him and that staring at someone is the same as cheating on someone.
I have been nothing but faithful to him and I would never cheat. But this is just getting too much for me and it’s affecting my everyday life and we are just going round and around in circles arguing about this. It is putting my life on hold. I can’t do anything with my friends or go on holidays because I will just get accused of staring at other men (when I’m not staring and they’re just in my passing or direction I walk).
I do not understand why he just doesn’t trust me. I have read this article over and over again and also reading the comments but it just doesn’t seem to be enough to try and help him to fix things.

He now wants to break up with me saying that being with him isn’t “safe” and that he will never ever change.
However, what scared me the most was that he gets suicidal thoughts (that’s how severe it gets) and tries to end his life. This really scares me and I really don’t know what to do any more. People’s comments are “yes if you can end the relationship and walk away then it’s a positive thing”. Is this true? Karen, someone, anyone please help!? :'(

Any advice or guidance would be very much appreciated and I would be eternally grateful. Please.

Karen Young

Lucy if your boyfriend is trying to end his life, he needs professional support. You can’t force someone to do this – it is his growth and he is the one that needs to make it happen. You can only do what you can do. If you are worried about his immediate safety, speak with his family, a doctor or a crisis line in your state for guidance. If he is not in immediate danger, there is little you can do to get him the help he needs, aside from encouraging him and speaking with him about your concerns. In relation to your relationship, it is for you to decide what to do. If he wants to break up with you, and if he doesn’t want to do the work to make the relationship work, listen to that.


Lucy – yes you can walk away, but from what you have described I would suggest running. And while you will miss the positive aspects of what you shared, your life will improve immediately. This isn’t going to get better and this isn’t a dress rehearsal. You can spend years in the wrong relationship. I have posted similar comments here before, but no one ever seems to agree with me. I think this is more or less a compassionate crowd trying to work things out, but hear this, life doesn’t have to be this way and the sooner you get to it, the better. These are years you can never get back. If you have children with this partner your home will likely be an unhappy one. Believe me, it’s one thing to suffer yourself, but when it affects your kids as well it devastating and infinitely more difficult to leave.


Yes. I do agree with you John. Sometime, being too much there for the person is not the right way too. Instead it might just making their anxiety worse. They will be too depending on you and you will be devastated from it.

I understand how hard it is to allow yourself not to be there for him too much especially for someone for the one you love is screaming on suicidal.

The only thing i can advise is to think further and from my own experiences and sharing from others, Some time we need to be firm and discipline them for at the right time.

In order to take care of the person, you really have to take care of yourself first. Walk away for awhile, give yourself some space and self love. Give them some space too. When you are able to pick yourself up, you are able to pick the person up too.

If you allow him to continue to drag you down, it’s no help at all or it may become worse.

I hope I did help in anyway.


I hear you John. The accusations, twisting everything you say or do. I don’t even know what normal is any more and I fear that I am losing myself. It’s only by looking on forums like this that I realise what other people are going through is basically how I feel as well. Everything is taken as a threat, even though his anxiety is considered mild. I just can’t help him anymore and I can’t take the anger anymore. His anxiety is his excuse for his behaviour? Really? And all those articles saying that all the sufferers need is a bit of understanding and loving. So after being shouted at I should feel all lovey? I’m only human too, I’m not a nurse, I’m not a psychiatrist. After 20 years of marriage and raising a family and non stop support for his career, this is where it all leads to? I just need to save myself and get the kids out of this situation.


My husband of 2 years has severe anxiety. He shuts down and I mostly never know what the trigger was. I know its not in his control but it’s a constant accurance and I don’t know how to help him or how to go on like this. Its frustrating but I just make sure he knows that I’m here and it will pass and try to change topics. It never works :(. I know he is doing the best he can but I don’t know how much more i can handle. I definitely lost the person i used to be. Our life is surrounded by anxiety wherever we turn. We have a daughter together and it worries me that she won’t have a happy life


You poor thing, you sound like you feel really trapped and worried. I know what it’s like, my husband now has anxiety and it’s so hard. I feel like I’ve become a single parent to him and our child, and I can’t carry the burden of trying to make everything ok for everyone all the time. Like you, I am only human. Like you, I am worried about my child’s happiness in life and how this anxiety might just ruin our family’s life. They say, “just be there”, but the daily reality is much more wearing. You sound like you’re at your wit’s end. I hope you’re taking your daughter out by yourselves and showing her a world where people aren’t anxious and depressed, and showing her a mummy who is cheerful and relaxed. Your partner will be ok for a few hours, focus on who you are and the happiness buried in you somewhere (cry it out if you need to first) and let her know that it exists.


Hi, I am suffering from depression and anxiety that has developed from suppressing trauma from being rape at age 15. I have a therapist and I hope this works. I had a very scary attack and we are not dating anymore. We want to be friends but with my current demons I’m not ready for a relationship. I feel very guilty for terrifying him. I hope he can understand some day that he didn’t trigger it and honestly despite him seeing me at my worst having him there saved my life.

My approach is to love and forgive myself. And his love was a crutch for me to feel loved outwardly. I pray that I can overcome my past and believe I’m capable of and deserving of love. Maybe if our friendship may return to a partnership again but healthier and stronger than before


My boyfriend has anxiety and he always think I’m cheating on him or is seeing someone else he gets upset when he sees someone walking down the road passing our home on the high way. We have been together for 4 years now and nothing hasn’t change. I wa strying to find a better way to solve our problems but hasn’t nothing change what can I do


After 16+ years she had enough of my anxiety and my wish to sometimes wanna die… I can understand that, but the way she ended it was just utterly ruthless and cruel and I think in a big part of her mental abusive father… a real bully.
The nonsense and shame bashing was something that hurt me the most.
Now trying to hang in there 50+ years… I wish I knew about this much sooner.
I wish she would read this article.


My girlfriend suffers from severe social anxiety and depression and after a solid year and a half of trying to get her back to a normal confident woman through a range of different methods i feel like i have failed. I don’t know what to do i really need some guidance myself in which direction i should take this next. I love the girl to pieces we are complete soul mates i just wish she would get better in some sort of way. Please can someone help me


I’ve dealt with depression and my ex broke up with me. I would lay in bed all day and be in my head. If she still contacts you she still wants you in her life. It’s more than a patience thing. Share laughs and be goofy. After the break up, I watched funny old school cartoon videos and I’ve felt better. Just hope I’d watch it with a special someone.


I am 18 years old and I have had anxiety for at least 11 years, I was 7 when I was diagnosed with both anxiety and depression. This link is a blessing because me and my highschool sweetheart are going through a rough patch due to his response to my anxiety and my anxiety’s response to college due to the fact that we will be attending different colleges. My boyfriend is very upset and frustrated because he wants to understand but can’t because he feels helpless. When I honestly don’t need help at all. I just need him to be there to hold me if I cry and to laugh with me on my good days. Because we actually have good days and bad days. He has definitely seen it at it’s worse, ( I hyperventilated ) and he was so confused. So we nearly broke up because I felt like a failure and he felt detached. So my mother sent me this is hopes that he’d try to find a way to see anxiety in a different light. Thanks for posting this.


After being with someone for 3 years who suffers high anxiety along with its friends, jealousy, insecurity, hearing loss and mistrust it has changed me. I just am not the same person I used to be. I was feeling very isolated from my friends because his needs were so great. I have finally broken away and I am feeling I am getting my own self back after 3 years of struggles and good times. He is never going to be different because this is who he is to the core and I can’t be a caregiver at my age.


Good for you! It won’t get easier as time goes on. My spouse has anxiety and I”m not the same person anymore. I do take care of myself but still I’m just different. Hopefully, I will be strong to break away and be free!! : )


It’s true, having a long-term relationship with an anxiety sufferer changes you and leaves you very drained with little to show for it. You end up living for your partner, living to support them in their illness, and it’s not a nice place to be. I am staying with my husband because we’ve been married for 24 years and have a teenager at home. His anxiety started a year ago, so at this stage I can only hope that he will eventually recover.


Wow, this is my partner of 8 months down to the letter. it’s as though you’re describing him. Makes me so sad


My husband and I are split up right now. He is the one with anxiety. We have gone to counselor after counselor. He has read books, I have read books and we have read books together. All of the info that I have gathered says that we have to work on this daily. We will get a plan together and he will do it for a couple days, possibly a week and then quit. Sometimes spiraling back to the worst scenarios. When I try to help him he feels like I am attacking him. He then gets angry and frustrated with me and sometimes turns to hurting himself to get out of the anxiety attack. I have been married to him for almost 23 years and I am broken hearted! I have left him before and as soon as I leave he starts to get better causing me to feel that I am the cause of his anxiety. I am at my whits end! I am very close to not going back this time and am asking for any resources that anyone can give me to help. I feel alone but I know I am not….thank you for anything you can do.


I’m sorry.. But I don’t think you should go back at least for awhile anyway. He needs to learn to stick with a plan. My spouse is like that with medication and he needs to stay on it as it’s a night/day difference. I may have to leave to get his attention.


My husband has constant anxiety, not an up-and-down thing, but more like a background/wallpaper thing that colours our whole lives from dawn to dusk. Our teenager is suffering and I sometimes feel like leaving. I try to support, but I’m finding the relentlessness very tough. I won’t leave, but we’re so unhappy as a family, there’s no respite. I can’t really keep this up. He’s good about his meds and about trying to get through, but there’s no joy. This is not the man I married. I’ve become a single parent to him and our child. I’d like to hear from someone with a similar, unrelenting anxiety-sufferer they’re dealing with. So far the periodic anxiety that’s been discussed here doesn’t ring so many bells with my situation.

Andrew D.

ELJ – Are you still out there? Your posts were from January 2018 and it’s now March 2018.

I’ve been reading anxiety-related articles all evening (week/month/year, actually) and your post is one of the few that seemed to mirror my life.

I’ve been married for 25 years and my wife’s anxiety went off the charts (for us, anyhow) after she lost her thyroid a few years back.

Your comments sounded so painfully familiar. I am hoping you have found other resources online as I seem to run into brick wall after brick wall.

I started to quote the most pertinent portions of your post but realized that you described my situation almost perfectly except that I am the husband.

“I’ve become a single parent to (her) and our child.” “Relentless.” “This is not the (woman) I married.”

I hope you are still out there and that you come across this message. I would love to learn about any resources you’ve considered helpful. I am very seriously contemplating divorce — virtually on the edge — and am desperately seeking other options.


To both Andrew D and ELJ, I hear you both. My wife has been suffering from GAD for around 6 years, but has probably lived with it for longer than that. Our little girl came along 6 years ago and her anxiety has been a daily wallpaper for us ever since.

What I find is that all of the advice around how to support partners is geared around you being there, being understanding and almost accepting that this is just the way it will be. Really? Does that extend to circumstances like ours where family life is a joyless, egg shell walking, lonely and isolating existence and where your child has to modify their behaviour to compensate for their parent?

I have also considered leaving and setting up joint custody because at least that way my wife will get time to herself, something she seems to need, my daughter will get balance in her life and I will maybe find some happiness. And who knows, maybe my wife would miss our daughter so much that she’d cherish the time they would have and spend quality time together.

It’s exhausting. For everyone. I wish you all well.


I feel for you and want you to be happy, but can you imagine somebody divorcing you after a quarter of a century because you were born with anxiety?


This is a great article. I have one question and I could be selfish for feeling this way. My wife has been dealing with anxiety for the past 5-6 months now. I’ve been doing everything I can to be as supportive as possible. On of the difficult parts is that we have a child together. When she needs to get out of the house to be somewhere quite or see friends, I let her go and I have no problems with it. I can’t go with because we can’t leave the child home alone. She also goes to therapy and seems to help when she has it. The part I am having a difficult time with is whenever she needs support she’s reaching out to her friend more often lately than me. Her friend, she has some issues as well so they seem to help each other out. But I feel as if our relationship has taken a step back and her emotions towards me have gotten more numb. I haven’t spoken to her about this because I want to make sure she gets all the support and this issue I won’t understand. So I don’t feel right talking about this and creating more of an issue. What are you’re thoughts?

Karen Young

Try speaking to your wife and ask her whether there is something you can do that would make it easier for her to speak to you about what’s happening. Sometimes, as much as people love the person they are with, they might look for support in others. We can’t be everything to everyone, but I can hear how confusing this for you. Speak to her and try to get some clarity around what’s happening. Make sure when you speak with her, it isn’t in an accusatory tone, but done more with open-hearted curiosity.


Great article! I’m just seeking some advise … my partner – we have an amazing relationship fell in love very quickly. We both want the same things in life his family and friends love me and vice versa.. he’s sufferes with chronic anxiety. We broke up for 5 months down to his anxiety and us acting like kids. We both trust eachother completely nothing ever happned like that. We got back together and now over something he mentioned during our brake up his anxiety is in complete over drive, I never knew how to handle someone with this and reading up has made me understand a lot and makes sense of what he’s saying. He is now saying “were not going to work, I can’t be with you with my anxiety like this, what if this happens what if that happnes” he loves me but down to his anxiety he is thinking the worst. I have told him I will be here I’m not going anywhere and it’s very conman for him to think and feel the way he does when he’s anxious. I said I will support you through anything and I will not let this destroy us. Am I doing the right thing?


He’s said he doesn’t want to be with me anymore and blocked all contact .. it’s pretty disgusting how’s he has behaved as a grown man. Anxiety or no anxiety you don’t treat someone you love this way who’s has been there for you … never mind ?


Shelly – when a person with severe anxiety insists that the relationship won’t work, consider it a gift. Your boundaries are a healthy sign. Plenty of happiness ahead for you with a better match.


My boyfriend and I were together 14 months he has severe panic attacks and he text me and told me he was done he couldn’t handle the stress I’m really lost without him


Shelly i understand that. Been in the same situation before. Hard to deal with sometimes but i do for him


yes dear you are. my husband is in same situation. just be calm and say those things looking directly into their eye ball


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow Hey Sigmund on Instagram

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.♥️
#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. 
#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.

Pin It on Pinterest