If there's one thing people who suffer from anxiety can all agree on, it's that talking to our friends about our worries rarely goes well.
A lot of people think of anxiety as just a feeling or an overreaction to an otherwise simple "daily life" issue.
This is simply not the case, but people who don't have first-hand experience with anxiety don't always "get" what it's really about.
As someone with chronic anxiety, I know in our current society, we really can't talk about our issues or concerns and expect to be understood.
It's often easier to keep things quiet, and avoid going into detail because you don't always receive a positive or supportive response.
Often, responses are predictable, and they make us believe our feelings are wrong or don't matter. People seem to have pretty generic responses when we open up about what's "bugging us."
With all that being said, let's review the four most common responses those of us with anxiety hear when we explain our struggles.
1. Just relax.
We don't want to hear, "take a breather," or "calm down." If we could keep ourselves calm or regain our composure in these moments of panic, we obviously would.
You telling us to do so isn't going to change anything. We desperately wish we had the ability to "just relax" when we want to, but it's simply not possible.
2. There's no use worrying about something you can't control.
Really? Heads up: You reminding us how much control we don't have over our lives, when we're already at the point where we feel helpless, isn't improving anything for us.
We're aware we can't predict, change or possibly even influence what's going on right now, and that's basically our problem.
When you feel so out of control and fear the worst, there is no "logic" present.
3. It's going to be okay.
Maybe it will, and maybe it won't. The fact is, anxiety exists because there always is a "worst-case scenario."
And unfortunately, for those who suffer from it, we can't help but jump to the worst conclusions. Reassuring us is great, but avoid these silly "lines" that may or may not be the truth.
At the moment, we see right through you.
4. You're overreacting.
First of all, let me save you a lot of trouble and say no one ever wants to hear this, regardless of what's happening. We don't see it as overreacting.
In fact, we're likely holding back a lot of how we really feel, and what we'd really like to say or do because we don't want to be viewed as "overreacting."
If someone with anxiety is venting or sharing his or her struggle with you, the worst thing you can do is call it an overreaction.
Keep your opinion to yourself.
At the end of the day, we really have to laugh about the lack of understanding and compassion we get from others because they really mean no harm.
If we can't find a way to make light of these situations for our own best interests, we'll probably just end up with a lot more issues than just our anxiety.
While it's important to take the chances we get to educate and communicate with people who don't understand how we feel, we need to do so lovingly.
We're still living in a world where many people cannot understand the complex dynamics of mental illnesses.
Here is something to always keep in mind: Your friends don't want to hurt your feelings or devalue your thoughts.
They wish they could understand what you're dealing with just as much as you do, but they can't.
They love you, and they are trying. So let's try to be patient with them.