An Open Letter To Anyone Dating A Woman Living With Anxiety

anxietyDear you,

We “special set” who deals (or struggles) with some degree of Anxiety know that we’re not always easy to date. In fact, for all of our goodness (and by this point, we can both agree there’s lots, if we do say so ourselves), we can be a damn handful at times.

Nope, we’re definitely not for everyone. But, my love, neither are you. Nobody is. If it’s not one thing, it’s something else these days. But that’s a different discussion; back to that little annoying bitch named Anxiety that lives inside of us.

As you know by now, we can be difficult to connect with at first. Sometimes, we probably still are (and yes, we can see you nodding your head in agreement as you read this). Well, that’s because sometimes it takes every bit of focus we have to stay in the moment, even if we’re hopelessly falling for you. We have a million things running through our minds: everything from what you think of us, to our ex, your ex, and how great of a kisser you are.

This could also be heightened because most of us are absolutely terrified to fall in love. Falling in love means the potential for hurt, stress, and heartache…and a dozen possibilities as to how our relationship can hurt us inevitably play though our minds when we feel ourselves falling, keeping us up late and waking us up early.

Speaking of being hurt before in the love department, if we have been (and really, who hasn’t?), it’s even a bigger challenge to date us. There’s so much for us to worry about on a daily basis, add the raw, heart-exposed-to-the-world’s-elements factor that comes with heartbreak, and we really can’t deal. Honestly. The thought alone gives us Anxiety, in all of her glory. We’re terrified of getting hurt, the thought of getting hurt, and of the unknown (the possibility of getting hurt and how it’s going to happen).

The unknown. ***shudder***

The fear of the unknown is the reason why we assume you’re either cheating on us, lying in a hospital bed somewhere, or have been held-up at gunpoint when hours go by with unanswered text messages. Anxiety drives us crazy when she won’t shut-up, filling our minds with potential “what ifs” as to where you could be and what you could be doing. You wish you could almost strangle her to shut her up; the lucky times, she goes away on her own. Sometimes she’s persistent AF.

That’s why, even if we did something to piss you off, it’s always a better idea for both of us to simply tell us than to leave us guessing in silence. This is the case for both verbal and written communication (ignored texts from you are the worst).

The thing is, if there is a problem, you’ve probably noticed by now that we like to fix it right away. Seriously, fighting with you kills us. When so much of our energy is consumed by Anxiety, arguing with you seriously drains us. But, we’re trying to understand that everyone has different ways of dealing with things. If you need your space, we’ll give it to you because we love you. Eventually though, we need to talk it out. Us Anxiety-ridden are good communicators (and often have an uncontrollable burning desire to tell you exactly what’s on our minds).

We also need you to know that Anxiety can manifest in different ways and she’s not always as easily detectable as she is with things like hurried speech or a stereotypical panic attack. She could be the reason we grew increasingly impatient in line at the airport, snapped at the cab driver for going the wrong way (in a typical rush), have a freak out when you realize we’ve left our phone somewhere, or stay up all night, unable to sleep thanks to a surprise meeting with the boss the next day.

Know, though, that we’re not using Anxiety as an excuse for poor behavior. Honestly.

Anyway, even the littlest things can seem like the end of the world to us at times. And some things are difficult to just “drop.” And yes, you’re probably right 90 per cent of the time when you tell us we’re being irrational (note: not always).

The good (and bad) news for you is that most of us feel things very deeply. That’s the reason we love you so much, and how we are able to maintain that emotional awareness (despite the intermittent nagging from Anxiety) that you love us for so much.

But that bitch Anxiety also has some good to her. She’s the reason we’re so productive. She’s the reason we’re always making sure you’re all right, and telling you things like “wear your bike helmet.” She’s the reason we’ve mastered the art of multi-tasking. So, you can thank her.

But, at the end of the day, we wish thing’s weren’t like this either. She sucks as a roommate. She’s one of the biggest challenges we face on the regular. The thing is, that’s why we’re so patient with and accepting of your flaws. Nobody knows that “perfect” doesn’t exist more than us. But that doesn’t mean we’re accepting of Anxiety and doing nothing to keep her at bay. Trust us, we’re trying. Fuck, are we ever trying.

That’s why we’d really appreciate if you didn’t shame us for her (calling us “crazy” is never a good idea), however discreet or unintentional that shaming may be. Instead, help us understand her and let us know how we can deal with that bitch together. At the same time, we can figure out your issues too.

Here’s the key to dating and loving someone who’s living with Anxiety: when we feel loved, cherished, and respected we are so, so much calmer. Seriously. Our mind doesn’t race to “what if” because we know. We can see it in your eyes, feel it in your arms, and see it in the way you’re so accepting of us as we are, Anxiety and all.

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