Friends In High Places: How Relationships Help Me Cope With Anxiety

by Caitlin Jill Anders

There are days when I am so anxious, I feel like I cannot breathe. The anxiety forms a hard knot in my chest, reminding me with each breath, there is something inside of me telling me, "I can’t do this."

There are days when I am sad, and I can’t really explain why. Nothing is really that bad, but it feels like the sky could explode at any second. All I really want to do is lie down in darkness, wallowing. It's dramatic, sure, but it's a real feeling nonetheless.

There are days when I just want to cry because I am sad, anxious and unsure. I'm a mess, and the tears are ready to help me get through it.

These are the days when the right friends become the most important things in this entire space-time continuum.

I have anxiety. It’s not really a secret. I don’t always like it, but I’m not ashamed of it.

It’s a part of who I am, for better or for worse, and as long as I don’t let it define me in a negative way, it’s okay. I’ll get through it.

Some days are harder than others, and on those days, it can be really easy to just shut out the world and drown myself in self-pity. It can be so easy to shut people out.

That’s not the answer, though. Even when we want to be, we’re not always strong enough to pull ourselves out of those downward spirals.

We occasionally need people to remind us we know how to pull ourselves out, before we can actually do it. We need people whose eyes are not clouded by our anxieties. We need people who can clear away the fog and remind us, "Oh, right. I can totally f*cking do this."

As someone with anxiety, I know the importance of being able to spot people who can lift me up and help me through my issues. I also know how to weed out those who will, maybe unknowingly, bring me further down and hinder my personal journey.

It’s very important to learn how to let these types of friends go. Not everyone is built to be friends with one another. We can appreciate and have a desire to understand each other without being close. We’re not all made for each other, and as long as we still practice respect, it's okay.

If a friend is trying to help you, but ultimately might just be making things worse, it's perfectly okay to let him or her go. The battle is hard enough, you know?

There are people who do get it, though. They are the ones anxious people need in their lives, the ones we will always be grateful for.

I’m not always the most fun lady to be around.

I might decide not to go out at the last minute. I might occasionally have a panic attack in the middle of a party. I might not be able to do something because it makes me anxious.

I can be frustrating. I can feel like a burden. I’m wonderful, really, but I’m just terrified everyone won't be able to see my good qualities through my anxiety.

I have people in my life who make me feel like my anxiety isn't a deal breaker. And while they may not realize it, that means everything to me.

These friends are special because they just get it.

They are the ones who don’t blame you for being sad.

They are the ones who do not enable you to continue being sad, either.

They are the ones who don’t draw attention to your panic attacks.

They are the ones you can have a panic attack in front of and know, afterward, they will still love you.

They are the ones who ask what you need, rather than just doing what is easiest for them.

They are the ones who know when to just be quiet and hold your hand.

They are the ones who will never try to fix you because they know you are not broken.

These ones, these humans, these majestic creatures sent down from the anxiety Gods get it. They get it so well.

Sometimes, it can be hard to find these people. It might feel like they’re just legends, that they really don’t exist at all.

But, they do. They’re out there.

If you're anxious or depressive, you will probably worry you are hard to love. I know I’m afraid of that.

I’m telling you, though, the person who will have the hardest time loving you is you.

There are people out there who won’t care you just had a panic attack over picking out snacks in a convenience store. It's weird, I know, but it’s true. They really won't care.

And they’re there. You’ll find them. I promise.