Imagine you’re swimming in the ocean, laying on your back and drifting in the waves. You’re relaxed, happy, everything is okay. A bigger wave laps over your body and you’re snapped out of your relaxed trance.
You open your eyes and look around. “Where is the beach?”
Whipping your head around looking for land you begin to panic. Your chest feels tight, your heart is pounding, you’re taking shallow breaths, you’re feeling light headed but you keep looking for land. You start calling out, not hearing exactly what you’re saying but just calling for a response to assure you that you aren’t lost forever.
Suddenly, someone close to you swims over and grabs your hand. “It’s okay, you’re safe. I’m here.”
Your heart slowly stops pounding, you’re still feeling stressed but you begin to calm down. All you needed to hear was that everything is going to be okay.
That is what my anxiety is like. Sudden, irrational and hard to come out of without a little help.
So the question is, how the hell do I deal with this?
There is no definitive answer. Everyone experiences anxiety a little differently, but from my own experience in my LDR these are the things that have worked for me.
Communication, Reassurance & Patience
If you are in a long distance relationship, or ANY relationship with someone with anxiety, be prepared to constantly reassure them. I don’t care if it’s annoying to tell them you love them every couple hours, or to sit on the phone and reassure them you aren’t going to leave them. Do it. They need it. Nobody ever said anxiety is rational, so don’t expect your partner to be in their rational mind when they are crying on the phone to you about something silly (silly to YOU, not to them). Respect that they need you to comfort them and bring their mind back down to peace.
Then, be prepared to do it all over again. You already had this conversation last night? Sorry bud but it’s time to reassure your partner allllll over again. They aren’t choosing to feel this way. It’s triggered by a number of things and by promising them your love, you basically made a contract to be the person they go to when they need to calm down. You’re a team, remember that!
Identify the main trigger for your/your partner’s anxiety. Once you can pinpoint the various triggers, you can put forth interventions.
If you’re going out with friends, tell your partner where you are going and who with. (It’s not a trust issue, it’s an anxiety issue). Make sure to text them every couple hours if they ask you to.
If they are scared of planes, make sure to set aside a few hours before their flight to comfort them. Maybe even buy them a WiFi pass for the plane so you can talk while they are flying.
If it’s when they are with family, make sure to text them or maybe give them a call when they can get away for a few minutes to calm them down.
School? Reassure them about their grades and how hard they’ve been working, or help guide them if they feel lost and don’t know what they want to do anymore.
Understand that anxiety won’t just go away on its own. Sometimes you can deal with it on your own with a warm bath and some loud music, but often times you need someone to help bring you back to shore and assure you that you aren’t going to drown.
Love can conquer many things, and anxiety is one of them.
Anxiety stems from insecurity, miscommunication and the unknown. Sometimes it even stems from thin air. But despite how exhausting dealing with anxiety can be, it is totally manageable and can be overcome.
Good luck & stay strong !~