Words matter. Choose them carefully.
Many people have someone they love that battles an anxiety disorder whom we want to support in every way we can. There are times where it’s appropriate to offer advice in relation to the situation your loved one is facing, but sometimes the best way to react is just by listening.
In situations where you’re trying to give advice, it’s easy to get frustrated if you feel there’s a person in your life who isn’t quite grasping the idea you’re trying to convey. However, when someone is facing a downward spiral, there are phrases to avoid saying, as they can be hurtful to those who battle with mental health daily.
“You need to up your dose of antidepressants”
Medication is a factor of mental health that’s extremely personal to an individual and their doctors. Many people spend months, or even years, trying to find the best combination of meds that work best for them.
When I’m having an anxiety attack, the last thing I want to be told is that I need to increase the dosage of antidepressants I’m on.
My journey with antidepressants has been smooth, but not everyone gets that lucky. And when our meds are unbalanced it can be very hurtful to hear that those around us insist that they know our bodies and minds better than we do.
Instead, create an open conversation with your loved ones and check in on them! If they express their concerns with their medication, help direct them to resources that can help. Compassion and pushiness are separate conversations.
Show your loved ones you care!
When I’m having a bad mental health day, the most detrimental phrase can be the words “calm down.” Hearing someone say, “calm down” often invalidates our feelings and negates the situation we are battling.
Besides, chronic anxiety is a disorder, and our minds don’t work in the sense that we can suddenly snap out of the things we’re experiencing.
Trust me, if we could control our anxiety, we would!
Rather than shutting the situation down altogether, it’s important to offer support to your loved one. This can be as simple as saying, “What can I do to help?” or “Do you want to watch your favorite movie? I know that always makes you feel better.”
Actions speak louder than words. Don’t tell us to calm down, help us calm down.
“There’s no reason to be nervous!”
Now this one really grinds my gears, folks. As someone who has battled anxiety for years, I’m no stranger to the words “don’t be nervous.”
Those who don’t have an anxiety disorder may find it as easy as flipping a switch to turn off their nerves, but we can’t. There have been times where I’ve been too nervous to send back a wrong order at a restaurant or ask a question in class, in fear of the 15 different scenarios my mind has created as an outcome.
What if I sound like an idiot?
Is everyone looking at me when I get up to use the bathroom?
Is everyone getting annoyed with me?
These are the types of questions that spiral my mind consistently throughout the day, regardless of whether I have a reason “to be nervous” or not.
Let us vent! Don’t discount our feelings!
We need to begin to treat anxiety as a health issue, not a taboo subject. Those with anxiety physically cannot “calm down”.
We don’t know the battles people face behind closed doors, so be mindful if your loved one has an anxiety disorder. Your compassion goes a long way.
~Trust the good vibes and spread all the love,