When someone is experiencing anxiety it is easy to say something like, ‘I know how you are feeling. I get anxious before interviews.’ For someone with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not just disappear once the event is over. It is a continuous background noise of anxiety and worry. So, when we compare it to ‘normal’ anxiety, it can feel invalidating and dismissive.
A much better approach is to seek to understand how it is for the person. Let them know you are with them, and they are not alone. A question like ‘What can I do to help you right now?’ lets them know you are there and invites them to check in with their own needs and then ask.
Sometimes when people are in the midst of an anxiety attack, it can be incredibly helpful to just sit with the person and be together until it passes or something changes. Affirming that you have as long as they need and are not going anywhere can provide immense reassurance.
If you have experienced extreme anxiety, what have you found to be helpful? Drop a note in the comments for future posts about anxiety.
Thank you for being here,