I had a talk with my friend about anxiety last night and he worries about being one of my only friends but he doesn’t ever pressure me about it. Most people think lots of friends means being happy. For someone with anxiety, this just isn’t true. Let me point out some facts for you;

1. Most people with anxiety are introverts. This means we’re perfectly happy sitting alone watching Netflix and eating popcorn. We don’t need a lot of input from other people. As a matter of fact, a lot of input from others can send our anxiety into overdrive and we try very hard to avoid that.

2. We are broken but don’t need others to fix us. People with anxiety understand that this is their life. Yes, there are times when it sucks donkey balls but we’ve got coping mechanisms to deal with that. Sometimes that includes medical professionals or medication. Sometimes it involves chocolate. However, as well intentioned as our friends and family are, their “fixes” often wind up being more damaging in the end.

3. Anxiety people will twist themselves into pretzels trying to please others. Sadly, those of us with anxiety understand we have anxiety and that, oddly, it causes anxiety in others. Not wanting to cause pain, we will set ourselves on fire while yodeling if that’s what it requires to make others be calm around us. This is self-defeating and very damaging. Instead of seeing ourselves as wonderfully and awkwardly unique, we try to suppress that in favor of what others think we should be.

4. Not a lot of people speak our language. To most people, our anxiety freak outs are minor. Just a hair out of place. Often we’re seen as drama queens or attention seekers (which is ironic considering attention is the last thing we want) and we’re told to suck it up. Other people complain that it’s tiring being around us all the time (imagine what it’s like to be us, then). So they tell us that it’s all in our head (yes, that’s kind of the problem) and that we can fix it if we want (because we’re the great and powerful Wizard of Oz). Very rarely do they simply let us be us. I have a wonderful friend who simply goes with the flow when I have a freakout. It never rattles him and he always has something positive to say. He knows what will cause anxiety and will do what he can to avoid it. When I’m in a fragile place, he’s my tough, protective tiger that won’t let anyone near me. He’s said that if my anxiety is tiring for him, it must be exhausting for me. But he’s a rarity. Very few people are like that naturally. Our friends, the ones that really care, must be trained to be like this and we must do the training.

5. Anxiety people tend to be hyper-empathetic. We anxiety people feel everything sharply. So when someone else is happy, sad, angry, confused, we feel it too. That’s why we need to surround ourselves with calm people. People who don’t have wide swings of emotion.

Just let anxiety people be ourselves. We have an equilibrium that’s left of normal but we’re comfortable there. Our lives aren’t easy but they’re always interesting. Please don’t tell us anxiety is our fault or that we can fix ourselves if we just get over it. It isn’t that simple.

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