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Topic: ADVICE | How to talk to someone who suffers anxiety?

4 posts, 0 answered
  1. AKH
    AKH avatar
    1 posts
    22 March 2019

    Hi There,

    My girlfriend and I have been together for a few months now and she suffers from anxiety.

    When we started dating I knew she had anxiety, she was upfront with what she had been through and what caused it and I've grown up with siblings and a parent who all suffered from one form of mental illness or another - so I never hesitated to think this was something I couldn't handle.

    When something happens that we disagree with, I know myself and I know I need to take a few minutes by myself to process both sides of whatever we've just disagreed on. However, with her, I find that I no longer have that luxury as she'll instantly start to panic and her anxiety manifests into uncontrollable shakes, so I find myself putting my feelings about the situation to the side to comfort her and make sure she's ok and breathing properly - so I don't get an opportunity to process my feelings or even feel what I want to feel.

    Recently, I had to have a conversation with her about the amount she messages throughout the day when I'm at work and I asked if we could please reduce (not stop all together) the amount we text during the day - I framed it in a way, that I need to concentrate at work, I can't be seen on my phone as much as I have been since we started dating and I feel that we're in a really great place as a couple that we don't need to give each other hourly updates of our day, these types of conversations can wait until we see other in person.

    She argued that I was pushing her away and trying to put distance between us and it became this massive argument which that night, once again, resulted in a panic attack and uncontrollable shaking and two days of doubting that I wanted to still be together.

    I'm now in a position where I don't feel we have created a safe space between each other to talk about difficult things without fear from myself that it's going to result in an attack. The alternative, which is keeping things to myself, isn't healthy and I'll eventually just bottle everything up and I have a lot of feelings I need to talk to her about, but I don't feel I can without causing another attack.

    I'm after some advice on HOW TO HAVE A SAFE CONVERSATION WITH SOMEONE WHO SUFFERS ANXIETY?

    Cheers,

  2. Cristante
    Cristante avatar
    1 posts
    22 March 2019 in reply to AKH

    Hi AKH!

    Wow, just wow.. over the last 12 months i have gone through the EXACT same thing with my girlfriend. Same situation in its entirety.

    Now firstly, i dont know you nor her so my advice is simply based on what i went through with my girlfriend.

    Youre right, you cant bottle your emotions up nor your feelings, isnt healthy.. your mental health is JUST as important as hers.. youre a team. I bottled my feelings up for the same reasons i can see you have begun too. DONT.

    The approach.. When things arise, and you need to express yourself without triggering her anxieties as much as possible you need to reassure her. Reassure her that you love her (if true) and that you UNDERSTAND how she feels and truely sympathise what she is dealing with, but also make it clear that you too have emotions and feelings that need caring for. Re-enforce that you are a team, that if you stay on the same page there is nothing you cant get through TOGETHER.

    SMILE.. i know it sounds dumb but SMILE when you reassure her, positive body language like smiling, facing her and even holding her hands is a PHYSICAL assurance, as humans we are wired to take this as a positive and the physical connection helps us process hard conversations.

    Finding compromise is one of the hardest things in a relationship sometimes but its also really important. I think if you both love each other then long term that will outweigh any normal anxieties you or she carries

    12 months in my girlfriend and i have gotten through exactly what you have by being honest and open but also SYMPATHETIC and LISTENING. I hope you guys can too :)

    GOOD LUCK !

    Cristante

  3. MsPurple
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
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    MsPurple avatar
    166 posts
    22 March 2019 in reply to AKH

    Hi AKH and welcome to the forums.

    Cristane has given some great suggestions and advice for their similar situation.

    Just wondering how your girlfriend deals with her anxiety? Does she see a psychologist? Does she meditate?

    If she isn't see a psychologist I suggest her doing so to assist her in dealing with her anxiety. I myself have general anxiety disorder and I found without seeing someone to discuss my anxious thoughts then I wouldn't be able to deal with them.

    I know your support will be helping her. But there is more to it then just talking to their partner. I found I needed professional help to get to the bottom of my anxiety

    I also find meditation is helpful. I use apps on the iphone. I suggest maybe trying aa guided meditation together. Some are also available on youtube.

    I know it is hard. But you need to look after yourself as well

  4. romantic_thi3f
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
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    romantic_thi3f avatar
    368 posts
    23 March 2019 in reply to AKH

    Hi AKH,

    Both Christante and MsPurple have given you great advice so far so I'll try not to echo it too much!

    As someone who has an anxiety disorder as well, I feel like I can see where you're coming from and where your girlfriend is coming from too. I really appreciate that you're here and trying to give her some support; even though it's clearly taking it's toll on both of you.

    You said in your post that you don't feel you've created a safe space to talk about difficult things without fear it's going to result in an attack. Have you told her this? I feel like if I was your girlfriend, this would be something that I'd need to hear. Your needs matter too and it's a shame that she's not able to see where you're coming from or what you're needing right now.

    I hope this is somewhat helpful