For those fortunate enough not to know, let me tell you: anxiety really and truly sucks. Living with an anxiety disorder goes way beyond the normal stress and worry that everyone experiences, causing those of us who suffer from it to experience the kind of fear and panic you'd expect in an emergency, but during totally ordinary everyday experiences. That can be really scary and even life-threatening depending on the situation, so having friends who take the time to learn how to help their friends suffering from anxiety can literally be a life-saver.
I've struggled with anxiety for basically my entire life, so I've had both the good fortune to have great friends who've been really helpful, as well as the pretty awful experience of dealing with friends and family members who have made things worse. I've learned to adequately manage the things I deal with every day, so that I can be effective in a healthy way. However, there are moments, especially when I've got too much going on in my life or when I'm in a totally new place (even on vacation, 'cause anxiety doesn't give a damn), where things become overwhelming to the point where I start breaking out in hives or struggling to breathe. Having someone around who can be patient enough to help me cope or get help can be the difference between surviving and even salvaging the rest of the day, or spiraling further downward and battling debilitating shame (in addition to the overwhelming anxiety).
As we get older and partner off, particularly if we have kids, we sometimes start to lean on our partners for almost all of our social and emotional needs. Still, regardless of our relationship status, it's so important to maintain our friendships and to have our friends' support when we're going through tough times. Friends are the ones who remind us who we are aside from being someone's partner or someone's mom, which can be a special kind of relief for those of us with anxiety because those relationships, however treasured, are also huge sources of anxiety-amplifying stress. As always, we get by with a little help from our friends, as long as they do the following: