Koen Meershoek

Finding Love While Battling Anxiety Isn't Easy, But It'll Happen

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Dating is a complicated game as it is without throwing anxiety into the mix.

Anxiety is a pretty natural human response, and it's completely normal for people to experience it while getting to know someone. It's typical for your heart to feel like it's beating faster right before your date gets to the door for the first time.

But then, there's dating with an anxiety disorder attached. This is a completely new ball park, and it's not an easy one.

Because of my anxiety, I overanalyze every single scenario. Upcoming dates make me anxious days before they even happen. The thought that I will be with that person in a few days causes me to lose sleep at night, to not eat, to have my stomach in knots.

The first time I went on a date with my boyfriend, we went out for dinner. And my anxiety wasn't kind.

I physically couldn't eat because my stomach felt like it was turning inside out. I felt like I could literally just drop to the floor at any given second. My heart rate felt completely out of control, and I couldn't catch my breath.

I've been on dates before, and I usually can cope decently. I cope by thinking to myself, "This will be over in __ hours. Then, if I never want to see him again, or if this goes horribly wrong, that's OK."

But what do you do when you do want to see him again? When his opinion suddenly means everything? When you realize this could be a long-term thing? The anxiety multiplies.

Suddenly, all the fears of falling hard, then being let down, creep in. And then, the seemingly harmless things start to give you anxiety as well: the fear of the first family meeting, what to buy for Christmas, the fear of all the serious conversations we're going to have to have.

Even the fear of someone being physically close can freak me out. I am letting this person in fully, and the power I am giving them is terrifying.

I am letting this person in fully, and the power I am giving them is terrifying.

And yet, I keep going, even with the occasional crippling fear. The nights when my heart feels like it's beating out of my chest come more often, but suddenly, they're worth it. I know they will continue to be worth it, and that they will fade away with time. (Hopefully.)

We have not been together very long, but I already feel it getting easier. Physically, it is slowly getting easier.

I do know, however, that I will have days where I just can't see him because of my anxiety. I know there will be moments with him when I feel like the oxygen is running out.

Being one-on-one with people can often be a trigger for me. I've learned to cope fairly well, but there are the odd times when the coping thoughts escape me. I fear the first time he sees me that way.

This escalates into a simple fear: I'm afraid to be around him due to the fear of becoming anxious. What if I can't control it this time? What if it leads into a full-on breakdown?

I worry I straight-up won't be able to eat anything because of how I'm feeling that particular day. I worry about what he'll think of me when I'm feeling that way.

Thankfully, I've landed myself a man who doesn't make me worry. He is kind, and he tries his best to understand my anxiety disorder.

He is patient when the words can't get out. He asks if I'm OK when I suddenly become silent, or if there is anything he can do to help, even when there's not.

The key for people like myself who have anxiety at this level is finding a person just like this — a person who will be patient, and who will be silent when silence is needed.

They need to be that shoulder to lean on, the chest you can burry into when it all becomes too much or to give you space when needed. People with anxiety disorders need someone who tries their best to understand something most fail to.

People with anxiety disorders need someone who tries their best to understand something most fail to.

Hold out for this person. It will be worth every time you can't fill your lungs enough and the times it feels like your heart is about to fall out.

This life might be tough for us, but you'll find someone who makes it a little bit simpler.