Love Them Through It: An Open Letter to Loved Ones

My wife has anxiety. It is challenging; I may understand some things about it, but I will never understand it completely. I don’t have a full grasp of anxiety’s true feelings because it’s something that I didn’t grow up around or experience. At first I HATED it. I wanted her to be a “normal person.” Then her anxiety attacks and anxiety filled days became more apparent that was when we were dating; I came to the terms that this is something that she lives with. This is her “normal.” I mean, she doesn’t always have anxiety but it is how her stress shows itself, it is how she acts towards things when something that was planned didn’t actually go as planned. If there is one thing my wife tries to do more then anything in the world, it is to be PERFECT. But guess what, she is not, I am not, and no one is! Since this is something that is going to also be apart of my life forever, I decided to accept, LOVE, and always be there for her, even when I don’t want to, or when it has nothing to do with me. When I did this, I realized that this was something we have to, and can, and will work through together. Even through the hardest storms.

As my wife recently posted “ Anxiety is not the bad guy!.”

Understand it!

  1. First and foremost you have to try to understand anxiety’s part in your wife’s life in order to help. Ask the hard questions first. I learned quickly that my wife liked to explain her anxiety to me, and that there really is no stupid question. I learned that there are certain things you will never know and you have to do the best of your ability to help anyways. The most important question I asked her was what helps me, help you, get through an anxiety attack. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand why they wont let go of something that seems as small as a grain of rice, it just matters that help them and follow your game plan.

Make a Game Plan  

  1. You have to make a game plan that works with the both of you for when things go dark. It took us a couple of fails to get one down that works most the time, and I am sure that it will always be changing, because life is always changing. But I do promise that it works, and it helps. It may seem and feel weird for you because we are guys and don’t do “emotional” things, but trust me that it is worth the try!

They CANNOT just “ get over it.”

3. You can’t get mad at them for having anxiety…by this I mean that you have to actively choose not to get mad. I had to learn that it was 10x times harder for her to just let things go if I was upset. To me, I feel like my wife can control anxiety and not freak out, but I have to see if from her side. Her side is that she doesn’t have control over not ever having anxiety, it is something she will always have; but she CAN control aspects of it, and how she responds. Me not getting mad, helps her control how she reacts to her anxiety – and that is better for both of us. Finally, sometimes you have to distinguish the difference between them being mad or having anxiety or when its both. This can quickly distinguish a fight. On our last vacation she walked away and told me to give her a minute. I knew that she needed a minute to be calm, this wasn’t a fight, she wasn’t mad, she just needed a minute to take care of herself mentally. Other times we fight for a minute and spend the other 20 minutes calming down because she has anxiety over having anxiety. Every one is different.

It is worth the fight:

  1. It’s ALWAYS worth the fight to progress. Fight to help her out, a lot of time she will push me away the first six times I try to help her, but I keep trying because then I can help her calm down quickly. It is worth the fight to work it out and try to understand what she feels, and what she is thinking. I have to keep fighting for her, especially when she can’t fight for herself. Be there for her. Help her!

Change is not always easy……for them.

  1. Any sort of change is a struggle for my wife; especially the big ones. Things don’t always go how she pictures them going in her head, so she is constantly trying to fix it, where for me, I can just go with the flow. I don’t have a set way that I picture change. This was good for us to figure out because now she will stop me and say hey I’m struggling. I could tell when we recently moved that she was having anxiety about it; and because we had talked about change being hard for her, I was able to intercept and block freak outs that would have happened had I not known how she was feeling. Sometimes during changes we take breaks, talk about what is hard for her and then ask her what the next step is; an this helped a lot! I couldn’t expect her to like change in one day. With this being said, we both have come a long way. Anxiety can’t compete against two people.

 

Love her through it, accept her as she is, and take each day by storm.

The husband, signing out.

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