Tonight I’d like to talk about something important to me: people making assumptions about those who suffer from anxiety (people making assumptions about others is a problem in general, but I’m choosing to focus on something I have actual experience with).
Human beings are naturally curious. Let’s face it, we’ve all made assumptions and guesses about people – it’s a natural thing. Still though, I think we all need to learn that while it might be a normal thing to do, that doesn’t make it right or positive.
Suffering from anxiety, I’ve seen the stares and heard the comments. I’ve seen people looking at me like I’m a weirdo or like I’m not ‘normal’. I’m always worried that people think my anxiety is something else: like maybe they think I’m mentally slow or can’t function mentally like everyone else.
While I have nothing wrong with people who have mental illnesses that cause them not to be able to think properly and function well mentally, that’s not my problem. I’m not mentally slow nor am I stupid or crazy. My problem is anxiety and while that anxiety makes me over think and worry about things that some people don’t even think twice about, this does not mean that you can’t have normal conversations with me or that I’m not mentally stable. What it means is that sometimes my anxiety causes me to struggle with everyday things like going out, etc. because my mind tries to convince the rest of my body that something is physically wrong, when in fact, it’s not.
The point of this post is that people need to start trying to understand things more so that they don’t end up making others feel bad about themselves. I have a relative that sometimes treats me like I’m a little kid or like I don’t understand what’s going on around me. I have to tell you that this is hurtful – to be treated in a way that makes me feel lesser. I’m not a rude person so I’m not going to say something like, “Why do you keep treating me like I’m five or something?” but it’s tempting.
If you want to know how to treat someone, ask them. Don’t say something like, “What’s wrong with you, so I know how to act”, but why not just kindly ask, “What can I do for you?” or if you see someone suffering ask them what they’re struggling with. You don’t know how many times I feel the need to explain my anxiety to people. This is mainly because I’ve had so many people look at me and treat me like a complete weirdo, like something is seriously wrong with me. I don’t love always having to explain myself, but sometimes I feel it’s necessary for people to respect me. That’s not right and not how it should be. I should be spoken to like everyone else because you know what? I comprehend things like everyone else. Just because sometimes anxiety makes me act differently than I might act when calm (I get shaky, feel unbalanced, etc.) does NOT mean that I’m not ‘normal’ or that you need to speak to me like a child.
I know that not everyone means harm when they treat people in a matter that shows misunderstanding – I know this. I know that some people try their hardest and simply don’t know how to act. The thing is though that there are tons of resources available to find answers to your questions and you know what? The best resource is the person who is struggling because chances are, they want to be treated with respect and know how you can start to make that happen!
So next time you’re not sure what someone is struggling with or how to act around them, find a kind way to ask them. Don’t make assumptions or guesses (you know what they say about those who assume). Also if you don’t have anything nice to say or don’t want to, then seriously, don’t say anything at all. Especially for anxiety sufferers, it’s hard enough for us to go through anxiety, without feeling belittled or guilty because of it.