I’m sorry if anxiety is inconvenient for you but that doesn’t mean you get to dismiss people’s mental health struggles.
One of the biggest barriers people face in trying to manage their mental health is trying to get other people to accept that their conditions are real. If someone can’t see an illness, they’re quick to forget how it can impact a person and this is especially true of all chronic illnesses.
Social anxiety can be an incredibly frustrating condition and one which appears to be completely inconsistent. One day, someone may be able to leave the house and another it’s the last thing on Earth they want to be faced with. There may be no clear reason for these changes. Anxiety comes and goes largely off its own accord, although there may be certain triggers. This can be tiresome for the person experiencing it, but they also have to deal with the fact that often, whether intentional or not, those closest to them let their own frustrations show.
It can be exhausting and frustrating when someone won’t go out, go to the shops, make the phone call they need to make or whatever else. Trust me, people with anxiety get that – they’re annoyed too. They’re crushed that their life is on hold while everyone else is cracking on. But no, they can’t just get over it. The same way someone with a visible disability can’t just get over it.
They are trying. You might not see it but people with anxiety are always trying to do better and whenever they don’t, nobody feels worse about it than they do. It can trigger feelings of worthlessness, letting people down and in the most extreme cases, suicidal ideation and that can be with something as seemingly benign as not being able to phone someone for an appointment that was scheduled weeks ago.
Those closest to people who have anxiety can be either the greatest support systems or one of the biggest problems to navigate – and sometimes both. One day might be met with understanding, but then it can feel as though the anxiety is just too much and that they are a burden on everyone else. Very quickly those feelings can spiral. There has to be a better way to communicate. Relationships should be based on respect, love and a desire to actively work to empower each other. Spats can happen, but if they become commonplace or there feels as though there is lingering resentment that a person “can’t just be normal” then the relationships can disintegrate and those struggling with mental health are left to do so alone, feeling as though they have nowhere to turn.
“Those closest to people who have anxiety can be either the greatest support systems or one of the biggest problems to navigate”
Social anxiety is not an excuse to get out of something. It’s a legitimate issue to have to navigate every single day, and some days it’s just not possible to work around or move away from. It can be overwhelming. It can simply halt life. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean anxiety isn’t there. By trying to assert that you must believe it for it to be real is a form of control, but if mental health could simply be controlled with a few stern words then the nation would not now be experiencing a mental health crisis. Tough love is bullshit with a mentally unwell person because they just read it as resentment. So perhaps when it comes to mental health we should all trust in the old wisdom that if you can’t say anything nice then please, just don’t say anything at all.
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