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Lady Teacher Lady Teacher is offline
 
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Can someone please explain anxiety to me?
Old 07-25-2020, 05:42 AM
  #1

So I have a friend that suffers from very severe anxiety. She takes medication and sees a therapist. I'm trying so hard to be empathetic to her. She says she can't sleep or eat and she's so worried about what school will look like in the fall. I'm worried about safety and protocols too but I don't worry about things I can't change and don't have control over. Our district just announced we will be 100% virtual at the beginning of the year. So many things are unknown and it's just so foreign to me to lose sleep over the possibility of things that may or may not happen. I asked her what is her worse fear about fall and she doesn't know or can articulate it. I just no longer know how to be a supportive friend and I really want to be. But, I don't understand anxiety. I tried to listen and support her but finally after what felt to me like going in circles about the same topics I tried to gently suggest she reach out to her therapist if she is feeling like she can't function right now. I feel like a horrible friend! Is it me? Is my approach wrong? Now what? Any advice is appreciated! Thanks in advance.


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Old 07-25-2020, 06:01 AM
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Old 07-25-2020, 06:21 AM
  #2

What she describes is her reality. Anxiety is an indistinct cloud surrounding you, a constant feeling of undefined dread that you can't escape or "power through." Her therapist is her best bet now and maybe she needs to explore different/more meds and/or more frequent sessions. Many are struggling and she is not exaggerating her experience.
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Old 07-25-2020, 06:31 AM
  #3

People with anxiety need their friends and family to listen well and not necessarily advise . Advice when asked for seems to work well. It can be frustrating to be around someone who suffers from anxiety however it can can also be very frustrating to the anxious person when they do not feel listened to.
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You did the right thing
Old 07-25-2020, 06:31 AM
  #4

As long as your suggestion that she reach out to a therapist was gentle, as you say. She needs to know that you care, but you are not qualified to help her past this stage of the anxiety. She needs to see someone who is. When a person is experiencing extreme anxiety, they need to talk, and it can't always wait. Every minute lasts forever while waiting to find someone to talk to, and their thoughts often go around and around in circles. You could support her by helping keep her mind occupied with other things, but tell her to write down her thoughts in a journal to take to her therapist so he can help her deal with them in the right way.
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Old 07-25-2020, 06:54 AM
  #5

It's like a crying baby keeping you up all night that you cannot get to stop on command. You are physically and mentally exhausted, but still have to power through and that only makes how you feel worse. Then that repeats, again and again, adding to the anxiety and exhaustion.

When my anxiety is running high, I even feel like my body is "humming." Think of how someone who has had too much caffeine and relate to it that way.

She's probably doing the best she can. Her talking to you about it may be one of her ways of coping. Sometimes speaking the fear to someone else, seems to lessen the fear for me. Also, if I can get my mind on something else, I can usually get my mind to settle down. It's not always easy though.

Just continue to be a friend and tell her that y'all are just going to take it one day at a time.


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Old 07-25-2020, 07:08 AM
  #6

I believe anxiety is real and very hard on the person who has it. It's also hard on those who love, like, or work with people who have it.

The crying baby analogy is interesting. I think people who have to live with or listen to people with anxiety also feel as though they have a crying baby that can't be silenced or comforted. It's wearing. It feels uncaring to walk away, but sometimes, as with a crying baby, you just have to close the door and leave for a while. You're allowed to keep your balance and sanity even when the anxious person has totally lost theirs.

I think we all try to be kind. It's all right after you've been kind and supportive for a period of time to say you're sorry for how she feels and you hope it gets better. Then leave so you might be willing to listen and be supportive the next time. Frequent venting and unloading may be a coping mechanism for those with anxiety, but she doesn't get to set the limits on the time you have to devote to her misery.
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Old 07-25-2020, 07:11 AM
  #7

Anxiety is difficult to understand if you donít have it. Itís just a looming feeling of dread, like something bad is going to happen. She canít control this feeling. It may seem unreasonable to others that do not have anxiety. But she canít just get over it.
I would suggest that you donít advise her. Ask her her if sheíd like to go for a walk, a bike ride, or something. Itís harder to find activities with Covid but there might be something you could do with her.
It doesnít sound like sheís on the right medication if sheís suffering that much so hopefully she is relaying this info to her doctor.

I also agree with the PP. Donít allow yourself to fall into the role of a therapist.

Amiga,
If youíre reading, Iím glad you deleted your response.
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Old 07-25-2020, 07:15 AM
  #8

You've already done so much for your friend. by listening and suggesting that she seek professional help. I'd tell her that you care about her and want to be supportive but if she really wants to get out from under the burden of anxiety she needs professional help. Remind her that she deserves to feel better but it's up to her.

I'm sure there are so many other people in the exact same spot filled with enormous anxiety. She's not alone and she can feel better.
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Old 07-25-2020, 07:17 AM
  #9

Quote:
Amiga,
If youíre reading, Iím glad you deleted your response.
Agreed. Anxiety is real and skepticism won't help OP's friend.
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Old 07-25-2020, 07:29 AM
  #10

Quote:
Amiga, If youíre reading, Iím glad you deleted your response.
Thanks, Teach 5 and MalloryJames. I certainly didnít intend to be mean, I was truly wondering about eating and sleeping, but I realized (other than my advice to be a good listener) that I really have no business saying anything about a subject I donít understand. I apologize for offending you.


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Old 07-25-2020, 07:50 AM
  #11

It seems your friend is doing the right thing for her anxiety (therapist and med suggested by doctor).

My question to you is not meant to be judgemental. What is your goal and why are the conversations frustrating you? Are you trying to solve her anxiety with no luck and that frustrates you?

I suggest you examine your own emotions around this. Can you articulate why it frustrates you so much? Why do you feel like a horrible friend?
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Old 07-25-2020, 08:12 AM
  #12

Quote:
I apologize for offending you.
Thank you.
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Old 07-25-2020, 09:26 AM
  #13

It sounds like generalized anxiety disorder and it truly grips the mind and body! Some people have panic attacks which produce an array of physical and emotional symptoms so severe that you feel like you are dying. When DD was diagnosed with bipolar and BPD she was also diagnosed with moderate to severe anxiety. DH and I have both always said that the anxiety was the part that was the most difficult for us to deal with. Is she on medication? If not, she should probably talk with her doctor. If the anxiety is severe therapy is more like a fringe treatment without also being on meds.

Nancy
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Old 07-25-2020, 09:43 AM
  #14

I suffer from anxiety but keep it mostly to myself. What I mean by this is that I donít burden (for lack of a better word) my husband and friends. It started after an abusive marriage. I have a doctor and have only had to call her once when I felt that it was out of control.

Anxiety, when it is present, is a constant worry that wonít go away. Many people fear the unknown, and this coming school year is a huge unknown. Every school year is an unknown. Will I have a good class? What will my parents be like? Will the new reading curriculum be hard to teach? Etc. Now, add Covid.

Anxiety is fear and dread. From even little things. Example from long ago. I felt anxious paying the bills as a single mom. Writing the checks out gave me anxiety.

So, what should you do? You are NOT her therapist. Listen as a friend and if she pulls you in too much gently suggest that she speak with her therapist. But, let her know that you are there as a friend.
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Old 07-25-2020, 10:00 AM
  #15

I donít know if your friendís experience is like mine, but think about how you would feel if you were being chased by a cheetah. My anxiety gives me that same reaction in varying degrees, but thereís no cheetah. Cases up today and governor going to hold a press conference? Rapid pulse, adrenaline, the works. Cases down over a few days, but new directive expected tomorrow? Cut previous reaction in half, but still there. Itís an all the time thing. I know my anxiety is completely irrational, and she may, too. There is no amount of reassurance that you can give her that will make it better, but I applaud you for encouraging her to reach out to a professional. This brain wiring is no fun at all.
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Old 07-25-2020, 01:36 PM
  #16

I feel anxiety physically, but I didnít understand it until I was in my 40s and being treated for childhood trauma. In addition to tightness in my neck and a general nervousness, I have overwhelming negative self talk (in the voices of parents and other people whom I wanted to please) that prevents me from completing tasks.

My husband has anxiety more like control issues. Not knowing everything about everything makes him start questioning everyone and appearing untrusting and paranoid.

I doubt thereís any ďthingĒ you can do, other than just be available.
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Old 07-25-2020, 01:46 PM
  #17

Lady Teacher, I so respect you for seeking to try to understand your friendís difficulties. She is very lucky to have you in her corner. I have no words of experience other than thank you for persevering to help your friend. I think you did the right thing by being a good listener and suggesting to her that she seek her professional help.
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Old 07-25-2020, 03:31 PM
  #18

I think it's awesome that you want to be supportive, helpful, and understanding!
For me anxiety is both mental and physical (as in I feel very physical symptoms from it). I often "know" that my anxiety and fear is irrational, overblown, or over things I can't control, but I still can't control the overwhelming anxiety. I think, as her friend, what you're doing already sounds great. Listening when you can, and directing her to her therapist. You are allowed to set your own boundaries for when you can/can't listen.

I like the suggestion of another poster to invite her out for a walk or bike ride. That may help get her mind off of things as well as getting outdoors and exercise. All of which can be helpful.
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