Let me start by saying that I get it, it seems unusual that a graphic designer would be writing about anxiety, but I wanted to write blog posts that relate to my new greeting cards and what inspired me to create them. In this particular post, it’s about my experience with Anxiety and my tips on helping someone who is coping with it.
Anxiety can be confusing for someone who hasn’t experienced it themselves. So, you may not know what’s appropriate to say or do. I don’t have all the answers, but what I do have is experience. Here are the six things I would have wanted people in my life to have said or done for me when I was going through intense anxiety.
- Validating their feelings. I found when I expressed thinking about what was making me anxious, even though weeks had passed, the response was “You’re STILL thinking about that?” That made me feel like I wasn’t allowed to have those feelings or there was something wrong with me for feeling that way. What I wanted, was for that person to listen and say, “I’m so sorry you’re still feeling that way.” And that’s it. I didn’t need them to rehash it with me, just listen to me saying I still felt shit about it. If someone you know is still talking about the thing that triggered their anxiety weeks after the fact, keep it short, but respond with compassion.
- Taking them to the movies. This might sound like an unusual one, but I found going to the movies was incredibly helpful. It allowed my brain a moment to focus on something else instead of the cycle of negative thoughts that it was in. I haven’t heard of this as an official remedy for anxiety, however, there are articles on why some people with anxiety find comfort in horror films. For me though, it was any movie that I could feel engaged in.
- Doing something physical with them. Physical activity was HUGELY helpful. When you’re anxious there’s a lot of built up energy. A great release is going to the gym, going on a hike, going for a run. It’s all helpful. The person might not want to go at first or might not think it will help, so start small, even if it’s just a walk around the block.
- Not taking them for coffee. Coffee means more caffeine, which means more energy and feeling “high strung.” An anxious person already feels that way. Coffee and caffeine will amplify that and make them feel MUCH worse.
- Suggesting to get help. People can be weird about therapy so this one is a bit of a risk. Personally, as someone with a degree in psychology, I am completely for it. If your friend or that person you love is going through a hard time with anxiety, there is zero shame in them getting outside help. I ended up seeing a therapist after a friend told me how it helped them. It was only a few sessions, but in that short time I learned tools I can use any time I feel myself slipping back into that head space. Sometimes it’s even covered by insurance and if you live in Australia, you can have up to 10 free sessions under Medicare, so really, there’s no reason not to go.
- Check up on them. For me, I wanted people around. I wanted the people I loved to acknowledge I was going through this awful time and to make sure I was ok even if it had been a few days or weeks since I last talked about it. It’s why campaigns like the “R U OK? Day” exist. It makes a difference. If you can’t physically be there for them, even a phone call can be just as meaningful.
In conclusion, anxiety fucking sucks. This card you see here captures that feeling. You can’t sleep, you can’t eat, you know it’s irrational, and that makes the anxiety worse. When people know someone with anxiety, they aren’t sure what to say or they just don’t say anything at all. And that’s why I decided to create this card series – Greeting Cards for Situations that Fucking Suck. The inside to the Anxiety Sucks card says “I wish I could release you from the prison of your own thoughts, but I’m sorry I don’t have the key. Know that while you’re looking for it, I’ll be understanding, caring, compassionate and of course…there for you.”
You can find this card and the rest of the series at: http://hardcopycartel.com.au/shop/