Prior to the loss of one of my twins, 19 weeks into my pregnancy, I viewed anxiety just a bad case of the worry warts; something you simply get over if you're mindful and practice a few breathing techniques or, you know, simply calm down. Then I experienced a loss so damaging to the core of every belief I had, and anxiety became a very real part of my life. I realized that anxiety isn't something you just "get over" and anxiety attacks are very real and there are certain types of people that can make your anxiety worst. Basically, I was forced to eat my words and swallow my naivety and issue sincere and heartfelt apologies to far too many people.
After my remaining twin son was born happy and healthy and seemingly flawless, I began experiencing intense panic attacks. I couldn't sleep, for fear my son wouldn't wake up, and I spent the majority of my postpartum days envisioning a multitude of grotesque and horrific ways in which my son could potentially die. I didn't feel comfortable driving or going outside or taking a stroll into the city; all things I used to absolutely love doing. Everything I even contemplated doing that didn't involve moving from the bed to the couch to the bathroom and back again, made me uneasy and afraid and unable to function at a level I was previously used to.
I realized that my anxiety wasn't normal and the anxiety attacks I was experiencing (that I was convinced were heart attacks until my partner walked me through them, having experienced them himself) were not common reactions to motherhood. As I stared this realization in the face, I started opening up and talking to more people about my anxiety. This is when another, perhaps even more harrowing realization, was made: there are people who won't help your anxiety but will, in fact, make it worse. There are people that either cannot, or do not want, to understand what it feels like to live with and battle with and work through anxiety. There are people who refuse to be mindful enough, kind enough, understanding enough or supportive enough, to help you deal with everything anxiety throws at you.
Which is why, when you come across these 10 types of people that actually make your anxiety worse, the best thing you can do for yourself and your continued health, is to cut them out of your life (if you can). Ending any kind of relationship can be hard, but having someone in your life that makes your anxiety worse is, well, exponentially harder.
People Who Simply Don't Believe You
If someone seriously doubts the very real fact that you suffer from anxiety, it's probably not worth the time to try and convince them. These kind of people are lucky enough to never have had anxiety before, so they are associating it to feelings of nervousness; feelings that they probably easily handle because nervousness and anxiousness are different from actually having anxiety. If they're going to try and police your feelings by telling you they're invalid, well, onto the next one. You don't need them in your life, making your anxiety worse.
People Who Trivialize Your Feelings
Again, if someone believes that you do have anxiety, but also think that your anxiety isn't really that big of a deal and you should probably just "get over it," they're not someone you should keep around. The last thing a person with anxiety needs to start thinking or even wondering, is whether or not something is wrong with them and it's all in their head and what is debilitating for them, is easily manageable by others. That's not productive; it's not supportive; it's not helpful and it will make your anxiety worse.
People Who Pressure You To Do Things
If a person doesn't want to listen to you when you insist that going out isn't the greatest idea or seeing that one movie at that one movie theater isn't something you feel capable of doing right now, and instead insists you tag along anyway, they clearly don't care about you and/or what is best for you. In fact, their constant nagging and pressure to do whatever it is they feel is so easy to do for them (especially if it's in a social setting that only adds to your anxiety) will, you guessed it, make your anxiety worse. If they're not willing to put your very valid feelings (that are, not to mention, debilitating) above their need to take advantage of some happy hour, they're not someone you want in your life. Trust me.
People Who Think They Know What's Best For You
Ah, the pseudo-doctors and self-help gurus that claim to know it all. Look, do our family members and friends have the ability to (sometimes) know what is best for us? Of course. That's probably why they're trusted family members and friends. However, if someone is refusing to listen to you and, instead, insists that they know what is best and you shouldn't trust yourself and you should, instead, just blindly listen to whatever it is they're saying; girl (or boy), bye. You're your own person; you deserve full autonomy over your being; you deserve to have your voice heard.
People Who Don't Take The Time To Truly Listen To You
Again, if someone isn't willing to truly listen to you and give you the floor to voice the overwhelming emotions and feelings that come with anxiety, they're only going to add to them. When you're sitting across from someone, vulnerably discussing something as heavy as anxiety, only to see someone daydreaming about their weekend plans, well, your anxiety triples. You don't have time or energy or patience for that. You just, well, don't.
People Who Don't Respect Your Personal Boundaries
More often then not, and especially when it came to dealing with my own anxiety, people who have anxiety want to be left alone. This was particularly difficult for my partner to understand, as he always wanted to hold me when an anxiety attack wielded its ugly and unforgiving head. Alas, I wanted to curl up in a ball or hyperventilate, alone, in the bathroom, and my partner listening and respecting what I wanted and needed, made it easier for me to work through my anxiety. If someone isn't willing to do that, and would rather do something in the name of "helping you" that really only makes themselves feel better, they're truly just going to make everything worse.
People Who Think Google And A Doctor Are The Same
Nope. It's just, um, not. So, sorry, but if someone wants to continually talk about that one "study" they found on some obscure site after a handy Google search that went against what your doctor or mental health professional has said to you, kindly (but emphatically, mind you) ask them to leave. You don't need their pseudo-science getting in the way of your health and happiness.
People Who Only Care About How Your Anxiety Affects Them
When a person goes on and on about how your anxiety has negatively affected their weekend plans or birthday extravaganza or anything at all, I guarantee you, your anxiety will get worse. Because, at that point, not only are you worried about yourself, you're also worried about others. You're literally putting other people's happiness ahead of your own; you're literally making yourself responsible for other people when they're more than capable of being responsible for themselves; and you're literally experiencing even more anxiety because someone is being selfish.
People Who Are Emotionally Taxing
If you're in a relationship that seems to take more than it gives, your anxiety will only worsen. You cannot continually give of yourself (and I would argue, no one can) when you're in the middle of an anxiety attack. You can't be in a one-sided relationship with anyone, whether it be a lover or a friend or a family member, and still work through your anxiety or deal with your daily anxiety or even feel relatively safe and secure, as someone with anxiety. Your reservoir is simply too empty because, well, you're not an endless well for others to siphon.
People Who Make You Feel Guilty
If someone is going to continuously bring up that one time you couldn't do that one thing because of your anxiety, they need to go. Like, now. There's no reason why you should ever feel guilty for your anxiety. Would you feel guilty for having, say, the flu? What about if you had cancer? What about if you broke your leg and physically couldn't attend a function? Your anxiety is no different; it is a medical condition that you never, ever, need to apologize for. The people who love you and support you and want to help you, will know that. The people who will make your anxiety worse? Well, they won't.