Things those of us with anxiety wish you knew…

Mental illnesses like general anxiety disorder (GAD) don’t discriminate, no matter what your race, background, or socioeconomic status is. That said, women are 60 percent more likely than men to have an anxiety disorder, so chances are, you or someone close to you is dealing with it. It could be anyone — even that gorgeous, friendly woman you sometimes commute to work with. When it comes the “type” of person wrestling with this illness, don’t get sucked into what the media portrays — there isn’t one type.
People with anxiety disorders are struggling behind closed doors more than they are in public, and just because they seem put together when you meet them for weeknight cocktails doesn’t mean they’ve got it all figured out. Having suffered from acute anxiety — it was tied up with my binge eating disorder (BED) — since I was a teenager, I have learned a few things about getting people to understand the struggles I go through. The best gifts I ever received from friends were space and understanding. The more you hover over somebody with anxiety, the quicker you will push them away, the faster you will make them feel like they’re abnormal.
The assistance we do need isn’t always what you think it is though, like taking us to the doctor. We might just need a pair of ears to hear us out — or some alone time. The most important thing is to love us unconditionally and never make assumptions about our condition.
Here are 11 things people with anxiety want you to know.
1. Social Gatherings Are Hard
Parties are no fun. Neither are baby showers. We would rather watch paint dry than go to a big wedding where everyone is dolled up — and chatty. With anxiety disorders comes stress in large social situations, particularly when it’s an event where everybody is smiling and celebrating a happy life event. If we turn down an invite, it’s not because we don’t love you — the party might just be genuinely overwhelming to us.

2. Sometimes We Just Don’t Feel Like Laughing

People who see us on edge automatically assume that the best thing to do is tell a joke, or do something silly to make us smile.
There’s a difference between forcing us into laughter and lightening the mood; the former always comes off as inauthentic — because it usually is — while the latter can be done naturally, without making us feel like we’re being treated in a loony bin. Don’t force us to laugh, please.

3. This Doesn’t Define Us

Please don’t whisper about us behind our backs and label us according to what kind of anxiety disorder we harbor (I swear, I was once dubbed Nervous Nancy). This disease doesn’t make up our entire identity; that’s a fact we lose sight of at times, which just makes us feel worse about ourselves, so try to steer clear of insensitive comments and nicknames. Instead, remind us of all the reasons we are wonderful — no harm can come out of that.

4. Things That Don’t Affect You Bother Us

I’m talking about those little, tiny, minute occurrences that you probably don’t even give a second thought to, like having you come over to our apartment for the very first time. Our brains are wired differently, and we might even be dealing with some chemical imbalances, so those small things make our minds run wild while you can merely shrug them off and continue on with your life. If we seem a little nervous, please don’t make fun of us, or make us feel guilty.

5. We’re Physically Exhausted

In case you haven’t heard, the mind and body are intricately connected, so if one is facing difficulties, the other will visibly suffer. People with anxiety disorders tend to live in a hyper-tense state, especially when they’re not getting the treatment they need. This causes the heart rate and blood pressure to rise, and our digestive system might not be working properly. Be gentle with us if you see that we’re tired and cranky, because we probably didn’t sleep at all last night.

6. We’d Appreciate The Space To Vent

It’s hard to find a good enough friend or family member out there who can listen to our troubles without passing any judgment whatsoever. If you could be that person for us, we’d love you forever. The more we bottle stuff up, the more likely we are to have a panic attack or end up locked up in our bedroom, surrounded by Ben & Jerry’s. Plus, nothing is worse than being honest, only to see the person across from us with a disgusted look on their face. Try not to be supportive and non-judgmental — and remember, you don’t have to fix it.

7. We’re Trying Our Hardest

Just because you don’t see us running to a therapy session every Wednesday doesn’t mean we’re not doing our absolute best to work on this mental illness. It’s really, really hard being trapped in this head constantly and not fully understanding all the emotional phases that pass by. Please don’t assume that we aren’t aware of our troubles. We. So. Are. And we’re doing our best to heal ourselves, in our own ways.

8. We Appreciate You

Yeah, it’s hard to say out loud, but we love all the support and encouragement you give us. We might not show it, and that’s only because we get so caught up in trying to make sense of the chaotic, demanding world around us. So, thanks for late-night chats and the text messages that are meant to bring us out of hiding on a weekend night. We’re trying to get better at saying thank you more often.

9. We’ll Never Be Just Like You

There might be a “normal” mold out there that you and many other people fit into — and we may never be granted citizenship on that land. There’s nothing wrong with that, so don’t make us feel like there is. We might never be interested in Halloween parties or Saturday morning yoga classes, no matter how rad you think they are. Let us be our own people, and, I promise, we’ll have a much better shot at getting along.

10. We Don’t All Need Medication

It far too common: people struggling with a mental illness are told that we should think about a certain kind of medication. But what works for your younger, manic depressive cousin may not necessarily work for us. Some respond well to anti-anxiety prescriptions, while it exacerbates the symptoms of others. Instead of telling us we need to take pills, ask us openly if we’ve ever considered it. We’ll tell you where we stand.

11. You May Never Know The Whole Story

Countless parts of illnesses like GAD are suffered behind closed doors. We don’t like being the center of attention, so we do everything we can to hide all the awful things we’re going through; this could mean that we aren’t going to tell you everything when you ask us to share our personal stories. Don’t take it personally — we’re either not ready yet to reveal corners of ourselves, or we’ve decided that there are some things we’d prefer to keep private.

Tiptoeing around chronic physical/mental health issues and pain…

Seriously. Enough already! People need to stop tiptoeing around these issues. I am quite open about the fact that I have severe physical health issues and also mental health issues. I’m very lucky to have a small, close knit group of friends who understand what I am going through because they, like me, have seen the film and got the t-shirt. They really help to keep me from losing it.

I can talk to them. Every single day we can talk about what ails us. We can talk about our pain safe in the knowledge that someone is going to be there to hold us up and give us the love and support that we need at any given time. With our mental health issues too. We can talk about our bogeymen and our demons without anyone judging or laughing at us.

Yet if we talk about any of those things outside of our group, then eyes get rolled and people tut. We are accused of moaning and complaining. We are told that we should suck it up and suffer in silence. People who do not understand will tiptoe around these issues and expect us to bury our complaints and tiptoe around the illness and it’s symptoms. Well hell no!!!

Enough already. People can bitch to the world that they have a cold and how ill they feel. Yet we must suffer in silence and on top of that, also sugar coat what we say so that it’s palatable for other people to swallow.

Enough. We should not have to hide how we suffer just to make other people feel better. Like now. I’ll tell you that it feels like all my muscles are wrapped in barbed wire and each and every one of my nerves feels like they have been dipped in acid. To cap it off it feels like little men with crowbars are trying to prise open my joints and I have a pride of lions chewing in my lumbar spine. That’s pretty much every day for me.

Oh, lets talk about the elephant in the room – mental health. I have just about clawed my way back from being on the edge of a nervous breakdown. I’m thinking about things and I feel so physically sick that my mind is fractured and shattered into thousands of tiny pieces. Paranoia haunts me. I feel like I’m a useless fat lump. I hate myself. PTSD from a lifetime of abuse from the two men who should have loved and protected me more than any others. That rages in my mind. Bipolar type 1 also rules me. But I have to fight as hard as I can. They will not beat me. Those men took my innocence but they will not take my life.

So anyone with chronic health issues, hear me. Be loud and proud. You don’t have to sugar coat how you feel to make other people feel better!

I see through you, you son of a bitch…

So tonight my man shape gets a call. A telephone call from out of the blue. His darling mother (who sees me as the nasty little pagan with tattoos and piercings.) played a nasty trick tonight.

She called MY number (not his) which indicates that she wants me to know and wants to cause me maximum distress.

She makes some small talk about his brother who has had a biopsy taken of a nasal growth. Then moved to “Guess what? Your estranged son who hasn’t even sent you a fucking birthday card in ten years. No birthday, no Father’s Day, no Christmas. No fuck all!!!

They are estranged through thr fault of his ex-wife. She has kept them poisoned for all this time. So granny dearest has to stick her snout in and cause all this stress.

My kid aren’t his blood, but they give him gifts and cards every Yule, birthday, Father’s Day any other day!!!

Now it looks like they are going to be swept aside. Well fuck that.

This is a bad day…

I’m standing on the edge of a huge dark pit of depression. I’m about to lose the tenuous grip on sanity that I had left. Why? My family. They have, over the last few days been so mean and nasty that I feel like piece of dried herb being ground up by a mortar and pestle. Every twist grinds a little bit more of me away until there will very soon be nothing left. I’ll just be a few bits of powder that would easily blow away in the wind and there would be nothing left of me at all.


I just don’t get what else I need to do. I try so hard to please everyone and make everyone happy. Yet right now, I get no respect and everything I do is thrown back at me. I’m nothing to them.


I can’t explain just how broken I feel. I see other people looking beautiful and being happy. Is it so very wrong of me to want just a tiny bit of that?

For the first 33 years of my life I was mistreated and abused. That is part of what has made me what I am now. Please stop. Please don’t grind any more of me away. 

I try so hard to fight back and move on. To rise out of this mire. But I can’t. I’m just a shadow and nobody sees me or the pain inside me. I’m honestly beginning to think that the world would be better if I just was not in it. If I just slipped over the edge of the pit. It would be so easy.

Having a crisis…

This is the only way that I can describe what is happening to me. My physical health is not great ( big shock, not!) and as a result, my mental health seems to have plummeted down as well.

I was just fine yesterday. I felt really positive. I made a post on FB, saying how I refused to be guilty anymore for people turning against me and that none of it is my fault. I was strong and I was positive.

But oh no… the bitch that lives inside my head couldn’t possibly let me be. She couldn’t even let me have a night’s peace. As I lay in bed, I put on my headphones to listen to some relaxing music. Most nights it drowns out the bitch in my head. Not last night. She was whispering and howling intermittently and I started to feel physically sick. I saw faces from my past. She thinks it’s funny to me me see these faces. She knows that they trigger hellish flashbacks, which is exactly what happened last night.

Eventually the flashbacks seemed to settle and I fell asleep. Thus came the night terrors. I woke up screaming and soaked in sweat, shaking & sobbing.

I’ve been awake since then. I hate myself for being this way. I hate that this monster has control over me. This morning I was very depressed, which turned into a bout of disassociation followed by an existential crisis.

Just great. My head is spinning and I feel so weird. I hate this. I hate me. I really do.

Emotional blackmail is just wrong, wrong, wrong…

Any form of emotional blackmail is morally bankrupt and the lowest of the low in terms of behaviour. It’s plain wrong!

Just how can it be ok to reduce another human being to tears with your words and threats? How can you think it is ok to tell another person that they are fat and ugly and will never cope without you? Or that you will kill yourself if a person does not come back to you after a break up?

Emotional blackmail is basically a system of threats and punishments used in an attempt to control someone’s behaviors. Not ok!!!

In a nutshell, emotional blackmail is a psychological-emotional ransom note that says, “if you don’t do what I want then I will make you hurt”.
In order for emotional blackmail to occur there must be four things present – a demand, a threat, a blackmailer and a victim.
The Demand – Emotional blackmailers demand something the victim does not want to give, in an attempt to gain the upper hand where there are conflicting interests or wants.
In general the blackmailer is usually asking for something which the victim regards as unreasonable and which the blackmailer believes they can get – if they apply enough pressure. For this reason emotional blackmail patterns are often cyclical – with both the blackmailer and the victim learning over time what level of demand will be tolerated without retribution and what degree of blackmail it takes for the victim to comply.
The Threat – The blackmailer may threaten to hurt the victim directly, or more commonly threaten to hurt something or someone the victim cares about. This could take the form of damaging or destroying their reputation, an object, an agreement, a relationship or a trust. Blackmailers may also threaten to hurt themselves to pressure a victim into compliance.
The Blackmailer – Although an emotional blackmailer is fighting for control over their victim, they often have little control over themselves. They may feel desperate inside and justify their actions as a means to an end of soothing their own desperate internal pain. In some cases, an emotional blackmailer may not always realize the extent of the hurt they are inflicting on their victim (and ultimately on themselves). They may not be able or willing to “snap out of it” and change their behavior.
The Victim – In order for emotional blackmail to work there has to be a willing victim – a person who is willing to sacrifice their principles, values, goals and boundaries to “keep the peace”, “turn the other cheek” and give in to the demands. Victims are often bridge builders – people who have compassion or pity on the blackmailer and are willing to go the extra mile for them. Victims may have low self-esteem of their own and be generally afraid to stand up for their own ideas and principles. They are caught in a vicious cycle as each time they yield something important to the abuser they suffer a loss of their own self-esteem and begin to feel more powerless, hopeless and trapped in their situation.
What it looks like
“If I ever see another man look at you I will kill him.”

“If you ever stop loving me I will kill myself.”

“I’ve already discussed this with our pastor/therapist/friends/family and they agree that you are being unreasonable.”

“I’m taking this vacation – with or without you.”

“Your family hates me. How can you say you love me and still be friends with them?”

“You’ve ruined my life and now you are trying to stop me from spending money to take care of myself.”

“I took the money because you always put yourself first and don’t seem to care about my needs.”

What NOT to do:

reward emotional blackmail demands or attempts.

Don’t stay in a situation where there is a threat or an action of violence towards yourself or others.

Don’t allow yourself to be blamed for somebody else’s bad behaviors or poor personal choices.

What TO do:

characteristic of emotional blackmail and understand that to give in to the demands of a blackmailer will only make the situation worse.

Recognize that no-one who truly loves you will threaten you with harm or expect you to act against your own best interests.

Recognize that the emotional blackmailer is not like you and is unlikely to respond well to reason, arguments or attempts at counter-manipulation.

Work on your own personal boundaries and be willing to defend them.

Remove one of the four components of emotional blackmail – the blackmailer, the victim (you) the threat or the demand. Since you can’t control the other person that usually means you have to detach yourself enough to protect yourself, your children and the resources and relationships that are precious to you. Then allow the blackmailer back in only to the extent that they cannot threaten or destroy what matters to you most.

Call the authorities if there are any threats or actions of violence.

I’ve been through this for years and so have some very dear friends of mine. The scars we bear are very deep. PTSD is my shadow. But it is possible to escape. To come out of the darkness and stand in the sunlight. To be you.x

Is being angry really worth it?…

Seriously, I’m wondering if it is. Why I hear you cry? Well, my 15 year old has come home from school with one of the worst temper meltdowns I have ever seen him have. For a neurodiverse child with autism, ADHD and pathological demand avoidance, believe me when I tell you he has had some really bad stinkers of a meltdown. But this one? It was visceral!

Normally Im quite able to not rise to this and just put him in a quiet space until he calms down. But today? I have the flu. I feel like hell. My temperature is 38.9 and I’m alternately shaking and sweating like crazy. So when Captain Gobshite came through the door in this ball of fiery anger, I just couldn’t cope.

Within five minutes, I had royally lost it and was screaming like a possessed banshee at him. He had started yelling and blaming me for losing a form he could not find that he needed for school. No way was I taking the flack for that. He is not using his autism as an excuse for laziness. The form should have been back in his bag after he showed us.

He was being so rude and confrontational and he knew he was pushing all the right buttons. Yet most of the time I don’t react. I wonder if my being ill has lowered my guard on my emotions.

I screeched and yelled back at him until the damn thing was found and then I burst into tears and had to take a Valium.

As my temper levels returned to normal, I began to wonder if there was a point at all to anger. All it does is break you down and destroy you heart and soul. It leaves you feeling sick and broken inside. Is that short flare of temper really worth it? Is the two minutes of tension relief it brings to you really worth the destroyed voice and love that it brings? Here’s the rub… I don’t know, I really don’t. But if I had to, I’d choose that it is horrible and simply isn’t worth it.

I guess the point of this post is a little self centred. But I just want to us to remember that anger is toxic, and if you can at least keep that going, the thought will slowly help us remember to be calm in those situations.

Have I made sense here? I’m waffling on as a result of my temperature. Bleurgh. Pass me the sick bags.

An open letter to those who have prejudice against the mentally ill…

I see you. You point and whisper. Your words slither through the air and slide down my ears like a poisoned caress. You make horrible comments. You use words like retard and think it perfectly OK to do so. You don’t see the wounds that your words and actions can cause.

OK, I get that it that if you are seeing someone have a meltdown/panic attack and you have never seen this kind of thing happen before, then yes – it can be a scary thing to deal with. But you wouldn’t point and whisper about seeing somebody having an asthma attack, so why should the reaction to meltdown be any different at all?

Do not use words like crazy, insane or psycho to describe yourself. Those words have been used to mock, dehumanise and exclude mentally ill people since their conception and they are not yours to reclaim.

OK, sure, it is human nature to fear what we don’t understand. Since many people don’t understand mental illness, they fear it. Mental illness also carries a stigma (a mark or sign of disgrace), and that stigma prevents a significant number of people from seeking help. People use stigmatizing words like “cuckoo,” “psycho,” “wacko” and “nutso.” Just as we wouldn’t mock someone for having a physical illness, we should not mock someone with a mental illness. The following are examples of some myths and facts:
Myth: Mental illness is caused by a personal weakness.

Fact: A mental illness is not a character flaw. It is an illness having nothing to do with weakness or lack of will-power. People do not choose to become ill.
Myth: Those with a mental illness are violent.

Fact: Those with a mental illness are more often the victims of violence.
Myth: Schizophrenia is split-personality.

Fact: A person with Schizophrenia may have audible hallucinations such as “voices” talking to the individual.
Myth: A person with Depression can just “snap out of it”

Fact: Until the brain chemicals have been balanced or the precipitating factor has been resolved the individual will most likely continue to have the symptoms
Myth: You can’t recover from a mental illness

Fact: With proper treatment and support you can recover

So next time you think it’s cool to mock somebody with a mental illness, I’m here to tell you before you start that it is not OK. You have no idea at all of the damage that you will cause by your ignorance. If you see something that unnerves you then take a step back, walk away and make an effort to try and learn something before you open your neurotypical mouth and cause an immense amount of damage.

Learning about mental illness should be a part of every school’s curriculum. Every school should have a mental health nurse available during school hours – the number of teenagers who have been diagnosed with a mental illness or experienced suicidal ideations in the UK in the last 12 months is one in four. They need support at school. Not ignorance from others.

Likewise adults should be able to access mental health care when at work. They should have the support to be at work if they wish to be there.

You know what stops people from functioning and living their lives? Your ignorance. People have worked so very hard to try and get through the day and then your callous words can rip it all down in a matter of seconds, and the person is back to square one and has to fight through hell to get back there.

So please. The next time you are about to make an off the cuff remark about any aspect of mental illness, don’t. You have no idea who is standing near to you and what they will hear.

Thank you.