I, like many other people in this world, have anxiety.
My generalized anxiety disorder can get super frustrating at times. I imagine it can be even more frustrating for my boyfriend.
Here are 15 things people with anxiety want their partners to know.
1. You don’t need to understand—just respect what we have.
My boyfriend has a retinal disease. When I occasionally find myself getting annoyed at him being slow while we’re out walking somewhere, I stop and think about what it must be like to have his disease. I’m not ever going to understand it completely, but I have to remember to respect it. That is exactly how I feel about my anxiety. I don’t need my boyfriend to understand it at all, he just needs to respect why I might be feeling a certain way.
2. We miss you more than ever during your business trips and we call often because we worry.
My partner travels fairly often. I can’t tell you how often I miss him during his business trips. Our dog passed away a few months ago too, so when he’s away it’s even harder without anyone here to keep me company! Granted, the alone time is nice for a bit but then I start getting anxious and wondering how he’s doing. I call him often because I worry about whether or not he’s enjoying the trip, getting dinner okay or occasionally, (in the darkest corners of my mind) if any woman is hitting on him.
3. Sometimes all we really need it just a hug—nothing more, nothing less.
There’s nothing better than a hug from my boyfriend when I’m feeling anxious. Sometimes having the person we love just simply hold us is all we need to feel calmer.
4. We’re so grateful for what we have, particularly our significant others.
Being an anxious person, I am so grateful for my boyfriend. He is someone I can always ask for reassurance when I’m making big decisions, or even little decisions. Sometimes, all the reassurance we need is just a simple hug, as I mentioned before.
5. We know we shouldn’t be scared of our fears but part of us still is.
Sometimes, a lot of people with anxiety have irrational fears or phobias. There’s lots more information about this here, but in the meantime, I know that my boyfriend understands my fears and phobias are mostly illogical. We know they are illogical, but part of us, that irrational part, is still frightened beyond belief.
6. Anxiety is a part of us but isn’t all of us.
Anxiety is a part of who we are yes, but it isn’t all of us. We don’t let it define us nor do we let it hold us back in any way (if we can help it!). I know that I am a writer, a teacher, a good friend, former dog mom, movie lover, magazine devourer, book lover, dog lover, sunshine lover and more. Anxiety is just a small part of the bigger picture of me.
7. We often worry about anxiety being a burden.
A lot of times when I have panic attacks, the first thing I always do is apologize to the person I’m with (which is almost always my boyfriend or a family member). We often worry about our anxiety being a burden on our loved ones. Apologizing for me helps me feel just a little less worried about being an annoyance to my loved ones.
8. Anxiety, and many other mental illnesses all depend on the individual.
Anxiety can be helped through medication and therapy, as well as meditation and trauma therapy (for those with trauma-related anxiety, the book The Body Keeps the Score could be an interesting read). Exercise and yoga are also great stress and anxiety relievers. Perhaps going to a yoga class or for a walk or run with your partner could be a great way to spend some time together and lessen some of life’s stresses. The bottom line is, mental health problems are very individualized. You wouldn’t treat someone the same way for other physical health issues, why should mental health be any different?
9. Sometimes we may not experience anxiety and other times have full-blown panic attacks on the daily.
This piggybacks off of number eight. Just like life’s ups and downs, anxiety has its terrible times and not-so-bad instances. It all depends on what’s going on in our lives at the moment. For me, the months of June and December are always just a bit worse because those are transitional in terms of a lot of my students leaving for the summer (I teach piano as well) and then the December holiday break where as a freelancer, I don’t get paid.
10. We absolutely need you to communicate with us.
My boyfriend and I are still working on this, seven years later! Where I love to express my emotions every time I have them, my boyfriend tends to guard his. I am working on gently reminding him that I need to sometimes be reminded that things are all good between us. Sometimes I also need him to express why he’s being quiet a certain day. He may be tired but as an anxious person, my mind tends to wander if it’s other reasons involving me.
11. Change is really hard for us.
I’ll never forget the day I moved in with my boyfriend. He was downstairs with the movers and I just slumped against the wall in the empty living room and cried. I was so unsure if I was doing the right thing and was absolutely terrified of the change. Now, no matter what happens with the two of us, I’m glad I did. Partners just need to remember that change can be really hard for us, no matter how big or small.
12. We know we’re not being logical, and it’s hard for us.
Our worries and neuroses are not logical most of the time and we know that. The thing is, anxiety defies logic and we are always constantly trying to overcome that. Partners who have a spouse or significant other with anxiety should never yell at them for “not thinking straight.” We’re trying to!
13. Remember anxiety can give us physical symptoms.
I am just recently discovering this. I grind my teeth at night and have TMJ. I have suffered from IBS throughout most of my life. These physical symptoms are manifestations of my anxiety. I am starting to recognize and acknowledge this, because when my anxiety is controlled, my TMJ and IBS are a lot more controlled as well.
14. You can’t fix us, but therapy might be able to help.
Sadly, mental health still is somewhat treated poorly in our country. We don’t have adequate access to mental health professionals in our country. Many see those in therapy as weak. If your partner seeks out help for their anxiety that’s a good thing! If you can make it work, even if it means less dinners out or you maybe taking on a bit more of the rent for awhile, it’s be worth it in the long run, trust me.
15. We always welcome lots of questions, if you promise to be patient with us.
We love helping you learn about our anxiety! We just ask that you promise to be patient with us. Sometimes it can take a bit of time for us to open up about our issues. We’re just grateful you want to listen.