My boyfriend thinks he understands my anxiety but he has no idea. I know it’s not his fault that he’s never experienced a crippling panic attack or had to cancel plans because they were too far out of his comfort zone. After all, how can he understand something he’s never experienced! Still, my anxiety controls my entire life and if I could make him understand anything, it would be these 12 things.
- I need clarity. Nothing, I repeat nothing, can be ambiguous. When I ask a question, I need an answer. A “maybe” or “I guess” won’t cut it. If I don’t know exactly what he’s thinking, I’ll try to guess and that will lead to hours of anxious overthinking.
- Anxiety affects more than just my mind. Anxiety affects more than my mind. My body goes into fight-or-flight response which creates a strong reaction in my body. My stomach bloats, I feel nauseous, and I shake profusely. These physicalities only heighten my anxiety, which is why he sometimes finds me in bed unable to move.
- When I say I need space, I need space. My emotions don’t usually creep up on me. I can tell the second I wake up if it’s going to be a good day or a bad day. A good day means we can have fun but a bad day means we should avoid the public at all cost… unless he wants me to snap at his friends for no reason.
- I can’t help but worry. I’m overbearing and I quickly become co-dependent. If I don’t hear from him, I immediately assume the worst. Either he’s dead on the street or he’s thinking of a way to break up with me. My worry grows like fire and before I know it, I’m calling him every five seconds. I don’t mean to be this way but I can’t help it.
- I know I’m irrational. I’m well aware that my anxiety derives from things I shouldn’t worry about, but that doesn’t mean I need him to poke holes in my fears. I don’t want him to try to rationalize my problems with facts and reasoning. Instead, I want him to calm my irrational thoughts down by being there and saying nothing.
- I can’t just “get over it.” I’ve been trying to conquer my anxiety for years and it’s an ongoing battle. As much as I wish I could, I can’t get over it. Trust me, I hate having to avoid social situations and I wish I could visit new places and meet interesting people without feeling sick to my stomach.
- My anxiety controls my entire life. My anxiety is the reason behind everything. I decided to major in English because I knew I’d have more work from home options. I decided to live five minutes from my parents so I’m never too far from my support system. I’m happy with who I am and where I am, but I have my anxiety to thank for it.
- I’m afraid of failure. Most people have one specific fear that controls their anxiety. Mine is failure. I’m afraid of failing everyone, including myself. That’s why I judge. I look at myself through critics’ eyes. Instead of focusing on my accomplishments, I focus on all my downfalls.
- Forcing me out doesn’t help. He might think it’s a good idea to force me into situations to “get out of my comfort zone.” It’s not. I need to know the situation beforehand so I can imagine what I’m going to experience. Forcing me into something I’m not prepared for will only make my anxiety worse.
- I’m not being dramatic. I’m not dramatic, my anxiety is. One second I’m fine and the next I’m throwing up because I’m so anxious. I understand why you might think I’m extra. In a sense, I kind of am. The issue is that I can’t control it. Anxiety makes me go back and forth and obsess over small, insignificant things.
- Yes, I overanalyze everything. I’m hyper aware and hypersensitive. I see everything, analyze everything, and feel everything. My days are broken up in a way to keep me from feeling too overwhelmed. I can handle one, maybe two public situations a day without panicking.
- I rely on him a lot. He’s the only person I’m completely open with about my anxiety. I feel comfortable enough to never hide my feelings around him because I know he’s not going to judge. He might not understand every one of my emotions, but he respects all of them.
My boyfriend is incredibly sympathetic and even empathetic about my anxiety, but there are some things he just doesn’t understand, likely because he can’t understand since he’s never been through it. Still, I feel lucky to have such a supportive partner that I can rely on when things get bad (and to celebrate with when they’re good).