How to Decode a Person with Anxiety Disorder

I’ve been looking for the source of this for a long time. Sadly, I can’t find it. I did, however, find this. Please note that I did not write this.

Again… I did not write this. I found it and loved it, and so I’ve decided to quote it here because of how awesome it is.

And for a final time, I didn’t write this.


This is by far one of the most important things I’ve seen on tumblr because It describes things I was not able to

things we are trying to do all the time:

  1. be safe

things we can’t help but do all the time:

  1. second-guess ourselves
  2. behave impulsively and reactively
  3. take everything personally
  4. worry
  5. worry
  6. worry
  7. have difficulty accepting compliments
  8. have difficulty reciprocating friendly gestures
  9. have difficulty finding the courage to respond
  10. have difficulty not being suspicious of others’ intentions
  11. make a huge deal out of the smallest thing

things you should keep in mind:

  1. we’re scared of everything
  2. pretty much all of the time
  3. it’s an actual disorder
  4. it manifests as impulsive behavior
  5. you can’t fix us with words
  6. telling us “worrying is silly” won’t make us stop worrying
  7. it’ll only make us feel silly
  8. and then we’ll worry even more
  9. “oh god, am i worrying too much? what if she calls me silly again?”
  10. like that
  11. also, we wear a lot of armor
  12. cold, heavy, affection-proof armor with spikes
  13. we constructed this armor as children
  14. we’re fairly certain you will never be able to pry it apart
  15. but there is a nice person under there, we promise

things you can do for a friend with an anxiety disorder:

  1. stick around
  2. ask him/her if they’re comfortable in a place or situation
  3. be willing to change the place or situation if not
  4. activities that help them take their mind off of things are good!
  5. talk to them even when they might not talk back
  6. (they’re probably too afraid to say the wrong thing)
  7. try not to take they’re reactions (or lack thereof) personally
  8. (the way they expresses themselves are distorted and bent because of their constant fear)
  9. (and they knows this)
  10. give her time to respond to you
  11. they will obsess over how she is being interpreted
  12. they will anticipate being judged
  13. it took me four hours just to type this much
  14. even though i sound casual
  15. that’s because i have an anxiety disorder

things you shouldn’t do:

  1. tell us not to worry
  2. tell us we’ll be fine
  3. mistake praise for comfort
  4. ask us if we are “getting help”
  5. force us to be social
  6. force us to do things that trigger us
  7. “face your fears” doesn’t always work
  8. because—remember—scared of everything
  9. in fact, it would be more accurate to say we are scared of the fear itself

emergency action procedure for panic attacks:

  1. be calm
  2. be patient
  3. don’t be condescending
  4. remind us that we’re not crazy
  5. sit with us
  6. ask us to tighten and relax our muscles one by one
  7. remind us that we are breathing
  8. engage us in a discussion (if we can talk, then we can breathe)
  9. if we are having trouble breathing, try getting us to exhale slowly
  10. or breathe through our nose
  11. or have us put our hands on our stomach to feel each breath
  12. ask us what needs to change in our environment in order for us to feel safe
  13. help us change it
  14. usually, just knowing that we have someone on our side willing to fight our scary monsters with us is enough to calm us down

if you have an anxiety disorder:

  1. it’s okay.
  2. even if you worry that it’s not okay.
  3. it’s still okay. it’s okay to be scared. it’s okay to be scared of being scared.
  4. you are not crazy. you are not a freak.
  5. i know there’s a person under all that armor.
  6. and i know you feel isolated because of it.
  7. i won’t make you take it off.
  8. but know that you are not alone.

About Nathan Hevenstone

I'm an SJW, Socialist, Jewish Agnostic Atheist, Foodie, and Guitarist. Hi!
This entry was posted in Anxiety, Social Phobia and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to How to Decode a Person with Anxiety Disorder

  1. Yukimi says:

    It’s really accurate for me. I feel terrifieded all the f*cking time and all the positive things people say to me just sond like more pressure or a slap to the face because I’m not strong enough… Going from deeply anxious to incredibly depressed or sometimes both at the same time is really hard and it’s getting too much for my partner who has his own issues. I’ve read this to him casually. I don’t want to be a burden.

    Nice post and sorry for venting on your blog.

  2. …It takes a brave person to manage an anxiety disorder…my body reads a busy airport, or loud restaurant, or A MAALLLLL as a threat to my life.
    The funny thing is? When my life and safety have ACTUALLY been at risk I am slightly less freaked out than by…essentially, an ordinary trip to a grocery store. The store may feel more threatening, even.
    Thank you, adrenals, thank you cruddy childhood…ack!

  3. Wow—potent. I could not help but notice that much of it is relevant to depression, too.

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