Sometimes anxiety can make you feel alone even in a crowded room. Even when you have friends and family to support you, you can feel they may not understand how to truly help you. Support can go a long way, but sometimes it can also come with frustration from those around you because they may not understand or know what to do to make things better.
As someone with anxiety, it is sometimes hard for my friends and family to understand what I go through when I have a panic attack. There are times where they are able to help because the years of experience we have with my anxiety, and at other times it feels as though we are back at day one. I also know it can be very hard for someone to understand things they do not experience, but just because they may not fully understand does not mean that they are not there for you. Your peers, friends, and family can still help you when you experience anxiety, it may just take some practice to find the best ways to help.
We All Cope Differently
I have noticed that different things help different people when they are experiencing anxiety and panic. I also know that sometimes there isn’t anything a peer can do to help someone when they are struggling because the anxiety has reached a certain level where it is hard to calm someone down. I have experienced this first hand. When I was going through a period of massive panic attacks that left me inconsolable, my friends and I had a group discussion on what was going on. Both my friends and I were frustrated because I felt as though I was adding stress to our friendship because of what I was going through, and they felt they did not know what to do to help me because nothing they were doing was working.
This conversation was proven to be very helpful, and I highly recommend that those who are struggling should have a discussion with their friends and family. This can be beneficial because it can help the person who is working through the anxiety realize that their friends and family aren’t upset with them, they are just frustrated because they want to help but do not know how.
Help Me Help You
In this scenario, it is also helpful to talk about ways that you feel your friends, family, and peers can be helpful when you have reached a heightened state of anxiety. It may be hard for the people who care about you to figure out ways to help you calm down when they do not experience the sensations you have during an anxiety or panic attack. Together you can also brainstorm different ways you can help calm yourself down when no one is around. Communication from both parties is important because it can help both sides gain a better understanding how the other is feeling. It is important to realize that both you and your friends and family can feel frustrated, but it is not your fault. Sometimes people with anxiety can blame themselves for their peer’s frustration, but they should try to remember that they are frustrated because they care, and want to be as helpful as possible. When I experienced bad anxiety, I would sometimes get upset that my parents and friends didn’t know what to do, but by using open communication they were able to learn new ways to help me when I needed it. It also was helpful to share with those who tried to help that sometimes there wasn’t much they could do except sit there with me while I was struggling.
Empower Peer Support with Knowledge
Helping someone with anxiety can be confusing if you don’t know best practices for generally managing an anxiety disorder. It can also be a good idea for your friends and family to do research on how others calm themselves down, and what techniques help them do so. This can give them better ways to walk you through your anxiety. It is also a good idea to set up rules and boundaries with your friends and family because it is good to remember that sometimes your friends and family may have stressors of their own, and you should be there for them in their time of need as well. Relationships are two sided, and require teamwork to help each other whether you all are experiencing anxiety or panic attacks, or other stressors. By using communication your peers can learn new ways to help you with your anxiety, and new ways to help the ones you care about. Most importantly, please know that you are never alone in your battle with anxiety, even when there is no one physically around you.