The interest in the topic of mental health in Egypt has been on the rise, people are becoming more aware of what it means and how important it is. Even though they did not completely disappear but mainstream thoughts and ideas about people who are suffering from mental health issues are being destroyed bit by bit.
One of the most common mental health disorders is Anxiety disorder, which is commonly described as the intense fear of ordinary situations. The level and the way anxiety signs show vary, some people get attacks while others have it all in the thoughts that go through their mind.
I have been experiencing anxiety attacks and other symptoms of anxiety even before I turned 15 and even though it made me learn a lot about how my mind works, it also was one of the hardest things I had to go through until this day.
For me, the problem with anxiety is that it made me unable to enjoy the things I want to do in life. It is like you are living with a constant weight on your back that makes everything feel heavier and less enjoyable.
I love traveling and one day I wish I could see the world but then I remember the attacks I get when I am away from home and then traveling seems like a nightmare.
Living with anxiety makes you worry about all what happened and all that is coming your way, you tend to over analyze situations and try to prepare them a thousand times in your head before they happen.
I never knew anything about anxiety before I visited a therapist a few years back and the moment she simply defined what I go through as an “anxiety attack” I was relieved to know that someone knows what this is and that I am not a crazy person going through something no one gets.
And because I realized how much the way people around me affect my anxiety, there are a few things people with anxiety would like you to know:
We know you care, but sometimes asking questions just make it worse
During an attack or when your friend or family member show signs of anxiety please stop asking questions. Especially “How do you feel?”
First because in many cases we are not entirely sure how we feel and being bombarded by questions and requests to try to put it into words skyrocket that fear. If asking questions shows anything it shows a lack of understanding.
Another question that is extremely infuriating is, “what are you afraid of?”
Well to your surprise, if things were that simple and rational we wouldn’t be diagnosed with anxiety! The situations, thoughts, and ideas that intrigue anxiety rarely make sense and if they do they are exaggerated. So please do not try to rationalize and convince us that there is nothing to be afraid of because if there was a choice we would stop it right away. Don’t ever undermine our thoughts of triggers of anxiety! Ever!
“Help” can sometimes get uncomfortable
It is hard to understand what is comfortable and what isn’t for someone with anxiety, there is always a possibility of discomfort anywhere and anytime. But constantly pointing it out, does not make it go away. Never go out with a friend or a family member of yours who suffers from anxiety and keep asking them if they are okay ten times a second or act like you are too careful, this usually could make them more uncomfortable and increases the tendency of actually being anxious.
We need your support; in the way we need it
Sometimes people get offended if they’re shut out or if we don’t take the time to explain to them how we feel. It’s viewed as a lack of appreciation for the support provided. But the truth is, we are not entirely sure what to say and in many cases talking about it is not the best way to deal with it. You could support by encouraging us to seek help, to motivate us to get out of our comfort zones (or even stay there sometimes) or be there when we are going through one of those attacks. Just be there.
It is not easy and we need your help
It is not just about being anxious about uncomfortable situations, it is the way our thoughts work, the overthinking and the endless what ifs that bombard our simplest plans. We never mean to be short-tempered or easily frustrated but the way our minds work makes it hard.
Being anxious is much harder than dealing with someone with anxiety. Because it feels like you are stuck in a faraway place and there is no way you could escape. So we want to feel like people understand sometimes and take it from me we want to get better way more than you think!
If you want to help a loved one who suffers from anxiety you should understand that what they need differs from what you think you should do.
If they feel like talking about it, try to listen and understand rather than explaining why there is nothing to be afraid of. If they choose to speak to a therapist, support them and never question that decision. During an attack, be there by holding their hands and by reminding them that nothing is going to happen; they will not die and that it just another episode that will go away in a few minutes.
Try to always remind your loved one that their anxiety does not define who they are, that it is something that is outside of their character and persona, and that it is completely okay if it stays for a while as long as it does not stop them from being who they really are.
If you, a friend of yours or a family member suffer from anxiety always remember and believe that we are never meant to be alone. We constantly need people’s support but in many circumstances, we need it in the way we see fit. But for someone who is anxious things seem much harder and this is why they need your help.
Be supportive, be understanding, and be kind.