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Sunday, February 03, 2013

Anxiety disorders

I am re-blogging something from Tumblr.  This piece is one of the best things I have read about anxiety disorders, written by an individual recovering from this disease.  Two of the most important people in my life are struggling with anxiety disorder.  I apologize to both of them for not always understanding what is wrong.  This piece has helped me figure out what to do.


Things that we are trying to do all the time:

1.  BE SAFE.

Things we can't help but do all the time:

1.    Second guess ourselves
2.    Behave impulsively and reactively
3.    Take everything personally
4.    worry
5.    worry
6.    worry
7.    have difficulty accepting complements
8.    have difficulty reciprocating friendly gestures
9.    have difficulty finding the courage to respond
10.  have difficulty not being suspicious of others' intentions
11.  make a huge deal out of the smallest thing.

Things you should keep in mind:

1.    we're scared of everything
2.    pretty much all the time
3.    it's an actual disorder
4.    it manifests as impulsive behavior
5.    you can't fix us with words
6.    telling us "worrying is silly" won't make us stop worrying
7.    it'll only make us feel silly
8.    and then we'll worry even more
9.    "oh god, am I worrying too much?  what if they call me silly again?"
10.   like that
11.   also, we wear a lot of armor
12.   cold, heavy affection-proof armor with spikes
13.   we constructed this armor as children
14.   we're fairly certain that you will never be able to pry it apart
15.   but there is a nice person under there, we promise.

Things you can do for a friend with an anxiety disorder:

1.    stick around
2.    ask them if they are comfortable in a place or a situation
3.    be willing to change the place or situation if not
4.    activities that help them take their minds off things are good!
5.    talk to them even when they might not talk back
6.    (they're probably too afraid to say the wrong thing)
7.    try not to take their reactions (or lack thereof) personally
8.    (the way they express themselves is distorted and bent by their constant fear)
9.    (and they know this)
10.   give them time to respond to you
11.   they will obsess over how they are being interpreted
12.   they will anticipate being judged
13.   it took me four hours just to type this much
14.   even though I sound casual
15.   that's because I have an anxiety disorder

Things you shouldn't do:

1.    tell us not to worry
2.    tell us we'll be fine
3.    mistake praise for comfort
4.    ask us if we are "getting help"
5.    force us to be social
6.    force us to do things that trigger us
7.    "face your fears" doesn't always work
8.    because -- remember -- scared of everything
9.    in fact, it would be more accurate to say that we are scared of the fear itself.

Emergency action procedure for panic attacks:

1.    be calm
2.    be patient
3.    don't be condescending
4.    remind us that we are not "crazy"
5.    sit with us
6.    ask us to tighten and relax our muscles one by one
7.    remind us that we are breathing
8.    engage us in a discussion (if we can talk we can breathe)
9.    if we are having trouble breathing, try getting us to exhale slowly
10.  or breathe through our nose
11.  or have us put our hands on our stomach to feel each breath
12.  ask us what needs to change in our environment to help us feel safe
12.  help us change it
13.  usually, just knowing we have someone on our side willing to fight our scary monsters with us is enough
       to calm us down

If you have an anxiety disorder:

1.    it's okay
2.    even if you worry that it's not okay
3.    it's still okay.  it's okay to be scared.  it's okay to be scared of being scared
4.    you are not crazy.   you are not a freak.
5.    I know there is a person under all that armor
6.   and I know you feel isolated because of it.
7.   I won't make you take it off
8.   but know that you are not alone.

Here is the link to the original Tumblr post: Here it is.

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