Life with anxiety is a reality for so many, including 18% of the US population. It’s a struggle that takes a toll on people, and the addition of comments from others is not an added benefit. There are certain phrases that pop up often that really need to stop.
I talk about anxiety because I am someone who is living with it on a daily basis. It’s much more than just stress, and really impacts my daily life. I find it very important to have support, which is hard to find when encountering these phrases, which is why I decided to shed some light on this.
“Get Over It”
This should be an obvious phrase to never say, yet it still is constantly. Anxiety is not something that can be overcome simply with the utterance of the phrase “Get over it.” Anxiety is often linked to life events that have had an impact, personality, and genetics, all are things we can’t just get over. Also, people with anxiety experience other mental health issues and physical illnesses, so there are layers to what we are going through. “Get over it” is not a magic phrase, so please stop saying it.
“Why Aren’t You On Meds?”
Not everyone wants to medicate their mental health. Yes, some people choose to use medication to help ease their struggle, but not every single person does this. Medication does not cure what’s happening, it just makes it easier for some.
“Don’t Be Crazy”
Never, I repeat NEVER, call someone with any mental health issues crazy. Anxiety is one where many people react strongly to certain situations, such as people with social anxiety not wanting to be in a huge crowd. Those reactions don’t make us crazy, even if the reaction is very strong (ie a panic attack).
“You Just Want Attention”
Most of the time, we just want to feel normal. I don’t like being stared at when I walk into a room late or step out because I am having a panic attack. I seldom share my anxiety with people because of the attention I could get, especially if that attention is negative or overbearing. Anxiety is something serious that people live with every day, so attention is not part of the equation.
“I Know What You’re Going Through”
I know this one seems odd, but hear me out. I have had very particular life events that have contributed to my anxiety. Unless you have been through exactly what I’ve been through, don’t say “I know what you’re going through.” Especially if you are someone who is not living with anxiety. It can be comforting to hear for some people, but you have to be careful if you use it because, if you don’t actually know, you can let down that person in the future.
Now, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t say anything to someone with anxiety. Here are some safer phrases to use:
“I am here for you.” – Only if you actually are, again you could let them down if you are not being truthful.
“How can I help?” – It’s a great way to show you care, because you are interested in their needs. Everyone is different and wants different things for help. And if you can’t provide the help they need, find someone who can.
“Thank you for telling me.” – It can be really hard for someone to share their struggles, and it’s good to validate the decision to share by showing that it mattered to you, even a little.
If you don’t know a lot about anxiety, or are living with anxiety and would like to find resources, I suggest going to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.