It’s early in the morning and I’ve had to get back into the car twice before being able to go into the supermarket. Felt crushed because they didn’t have any pancakes left and then cried into my scrambled eggs.
Its been a rough day for my anxiety and it’s only 9am. Anxiety, along with many mental health issues, is so difficult to explain and even harder to understand – especially if you haven’t experienced it.
It’s completely irrational and, more than that, it’s terrifying. Within minutes it can spiral and what started as a simple thought or worry has suddenly become the end of the world. It clings to doubts or fears and exaggerates them to the point of complete fiction.
If you love someone who is suffering, it’s so important to learn how best to help them but more importantly to always let them know that they are loved.
Here are some of my personal tips for helping someone through an anxiety attack:
- Help them to rationalize things, but don’t be pushy. We know it’s irrational and we often know it’s not real but that doesn’t mean we can make it go away. Saying things like “Don’t be stupid” or “You’re just worrying about nothing” won’t help. Instead, try saying things like “Okay, how can I help? Do you want to talk through the problem?” “I love you”
- Learn about their medication and what to bring them in times of need. Personally I take Kalms because they work for me, so if I’m panicking someone brings me one of those and that always helps. But someone could be using Rescue Remedy or other options, so make sure you know what helps them and, if they are at your home regularly, make sure to always have some in the house.
- Try your best not to get angry with them. Once anxiety starts, it’s very difficult to climb back down, so even though you might not understand it try to be supportive. Make sure they feel loved, tell them nice things, text them to make sure they are okay- anxiety’s biggest kicker is that it makes you feel isolated and bad about yourself, so do what you can to remind them that they are not alone.
- Try to support them even on better days; don’t belittle their achievements no matter how small and support them when they make decisions. Sometimes even ordering food feels like a big task, so don’t mock them if they take a while or need a little help.
- Help them to ground themselves. Counting and observing their breathing can sometimes help to bring them back down from the sky-high panic. When I’m having an attack, my loved ones tend to follow the one below (*picture from Pinterest*). Its all about distraction.
It’s really important to remember that it affects everyone differently, so you need to be patient what works for some people doesn’t work for everyone.
If you’re not sure then take some time to look it up, get to know the illness that effects them. I can tell you from personal experience that its terrifying and sometimes it just helps to have some one boost your confidence and help you find the person you once were.
Please always remember not to judge, you might not understand it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t real for those who are suffering.