I love going on Facebook and seeing articles in my newsfeed like: “What people with anxiety wish you knew”, “How not to talk to someone with anxiety”, “5 tips for helping someone with depression”, etc. I do read them sometimes, and sometimes they are true (for me), but sometimes they irritate me.
I read one about helping “someone with anxiety” a few days ago and the article itself made me anxious! The article said that you can help “someone with anxiety” by forcing him/her to remain “in the situation” and other things along those lines. I understand that different techniques work for different people. The gist of the article was that you have to force anxious people to face their fears and there were quotes from a psychiatrist or some authoritative figure about why this would be helpful. My reaction to that was “WTF….that is so mean! I would never do that to anyone anxious and I would never want anyone to do that to me!!!” I know if I am in a situation where I am anxious, I need to get out of there right away- and don’t tell me otherwise. I think forcing me to “face my fears” could possibly traumatize me further and then cause me to develop avoidance behaviours. That’s just me. As I am writing this I am actually feeling nauseous from thinking about anxiety/being anxious. That is how strong anxious thoughts can be! They literally make me sick.
And sometimes I come across an article that is actually meaningful and helpful. I came across this article, “How Not to Talk to Someone With Depression” and was surprised at how relatable it was. I especially enjoyed the following comment from the “Have you Tried” section:
Patients might also have pursued massage, acupuncture, yoga, crystals, whatever the fuck else. Trust me, people have tried. No, don’t tell me your aunt’s boyfriend’s sister went mud bathing and it cured her. Just don’t. It’s been tried.
Not everyone believes in Western medicine, or in one type of therapy. What works for you may not work for someone else. You can offer someone your advice, but it doesn’t mean they have to take it. As someone with anxiety, depression, highs, lows, rapid cycling, irritability and a whole lot of agitation, I have found that certain things help to put me at ease, and when I am feeling low and depressed, I know certain things make me feel worse and better. But only I know what works for me. And if the only solution sometimes is to take Ativan for a few days to get through a rough patch, and to take Rivotril to sleep, then I have to give in to what my mind/body needs me to do. They invented benzodiazepines for a reason right? It’s not a long-term solution, but sometimes it’s the only thing that works when you can’t turn your mind off and you can’t fend your thoughts off anymore.
Another great excerpt from the article,
The needs of individual people are hugely variable, so this isn’t a prescription for “how to support your depressed friends and family”. It’s a start. If you really want to know how to respond to depression, try asking the person who’s experiencing it – and don’t be offended if you’re rebuffed or the response is “I honestly don’t know.”
I don’t need to justify my state of mind to anyone; it is totally okay to say “I don’t know how I’m feeling” if that is the truth. This is my mind, these are my moods and I will deal with them how I see fit. I have an incredibly strong will and I am very strong, and I am allowed to feel what I feel. I am allowed to just “be”, to not feel, to feel “numb”, confused, irritated, however I want to feel.
My wedding is in 5 weeks, and I am definitely feeling nervous and anxious about it. We are very organized, all the main things have been taken care of, but we still have things to cross off our checklist, there have been many aggravations of various sizes, and stressful (non-wedding) situations that have been ongoing. I haven’t been sleeping well and my eating habits are off. I feel like my throat is closing on me, my chest is so tight and I am of course anxious which makes me nauseous and all of those somatic symptoms make me more anxious (And I am literally breaking into a sweat right now)! It’s a cruel vicious cycle and because I am beyond exhausted, it’s been really hard to be calm, to relax and to get out of the hypomanic state that has been going on for 2 months. You can imagine how irritated I am when someone says, “Your wedding is so soon! Wow, do you have everything done?” or, “You must be getting stressed”, “Are you nervous?”… You know, the typical questions. First of all, I get annoyed having to repeat myself, and I just don’t feel like responding but it’s not a good idea to be rude to prospective wedding guests! If people really knew me, they would know better than to ask.
I want to stop thinking about “the wedding” so my mind will be quiet and I can stop feeling this way, even if it’s for a few minutes. I know it will be a wonderful day, I will be happy, I will feel beautiful, it’s just the anticipation and build up that gets me worked up (typical anxious person). I am still somewhat of a shy person so greeting all these guests will be a lot to handle, and having so much attention on me will be too.
I told my fiance today I am worried about being anxious that day, and he told me just to give him a signal, and he will make me laugh to distract me (which usually helps relieve some anxiety) – and that’s why I am marrying him. No explanation needed- he gets me.
About Melanie Luxenberg
My name is Melanie Luxenberg and I am finally ready to live openly with mental illness. I was first diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder in 2003, which I still experience. At the same time, I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety (which I also still experience), and then briefly experienced Agoraphobia. I have had depression on and off since I was 13 years old. In July 2010 I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder II. Shortly after it was realized that I experienced rapid cycling. I can experience multiple cycles in a week. Despite my diagnosis, I completed a university degree and then a college program. I have always held stable employment, regularly taken my medication and regularly attended my doctor’s appointments. There have been times of hopelessness, but I have always found support from my family, husband and 3 dogs. I am a law clerk, social media/content writer and of course, mental health advocate. My Twitter feed is full of mental health advocacy messages. I hope one day to see the end of stigma towards mental illness, because stigma has to stop!