Things to Never Say to a Person with Anxiety

Relaaaax - Because that makes me want to relax my fist into your face.

You’re life is so good, what do you possibly have to worry about? Thank you, I know that my life is good. That’s not what this is about. Nice try, asshole.

If you just tried to think happier thoughts… Oh, thanks! I hadn’t tried that one yet!

You’re overreacting - Please know that this is not me being an overreacting, attention-seeking, drama queen. As irrational as it may seem to you, it is so real to me.

Have you tried this $75 calming tea from Whole Foods? It helps me when I’m feeling stressed. OHMYGODSERIOUSLY?!

Have you tried just going for a run? I hear that helps. Have you tried just shutting the fuck up?

Don’t worry, everything’s going to be fine - You couldn’t possibly know that to be true. For example, I had a headache that lasted all day yesterday and WebMD confirmed I have approximately two weeks to live.

Try to just take your mind off of it – That would mean I need to know what IT is.

Obviously this post is slightly dramatic (per the usual) But I’m talking about anxiety again because THIS POST has caused so many people to reach out to me over the last year. It’s my mission to make talking about mental health less scary. If you live with anxiety, please know that you’re not crazy, and you don’t have to silently suffer. 

Comments

  1. says

    Ah yes… the stock answers to anxiety. I think I must get a psychotic look about me when someone says any of the above to me, as conversation quickly moves on (thankfully).

  2. says

    YES YES YES to all of these. I’m a counselor and it’s CRAZY to hear the things that people have said to my clients. SOmetimes I feel like it takes a whole hour just to start identifying and trying to reverse some of the messages they’ve heard!

  3. Debbie says

    Aaaaahhhhh!! I feel your pain.
    We’re trying to conceive and if I hear one more person say to me “just relax and it will happen” I am going to lose my mind

  4. says

    Depression used to be the most common symptom for people coming in for therapy. Anxiety is over taking depression and it is very painful. Thank you for posting this for all the sensitive people in this world who face life with this kind of pain. Now if we could get the media to stop promoting fear, we might have a chance to reverse this trend! XO

  5. Jennifer says

    Right on, sista. I agree with it all. Especially, whenever people tell me to just “calm down” in a syrupy tone , my blood instantly starts boiling. Gee, thanks for the advice. Grrrrrr.

  6. says

    Hahaha YES! Couldn’t have been said any better. My husband is KNOWN for saying the “Don’t worry, everything is going to be fine” one. I know he’s just trying to be sweet and encouraging, but…no, it just doesn’t help me. And then my dad says the overreacting one and that just pisses me off. Ha!

  7. says

    Word. I love this. If I had a quarter for every time someone told me to just “calm down!” I could retire right now. I’m pretty sure nothing works me up more than having someone to tell me calm down when I’m in the midst of a panic attack — then I just feel anxious AND ridiculous. Not helpful.

  8. says

    Amen!
    Hearing “calm down” or “relax” is the absolute worst; it’s guaranteed to make me feel even more anxious.
    Another whopper is the reminder “…but you have such a great life…” Yes, which makes feeling like this that much tougher! Knowing one is immeasurably lucky and blessed doesn’t erase a psychological condition.
    I’m so glad I’m married to a therapist! He usually doesn’t make these (usually) well-intentioned mistakes! :-)

  9. says

    Yes :) I don’t have a horrible case but I sure have it! My sister really suffers from it and I completely agree with this post those things sure don’t help to say at all :)

  10. says

    This is so true. Similar “punch in the face” sentiments regarding people who tell a depressed person to “just cheer up.” I’ll cheer up if I punch you! (and actually, probably not, so then where will we be?…) <3

  11. says

    “As irrational as it may seem to you, it is so real to me.” EXACTLY. I hate being told to relax when I’m panicking about something. I try to catch it right away, and not give it any power, but you telling me to relax just makes me feel even more crazy. JUST STOP.

  12. Mary Ellen McCartju says

    So True! I don’t tell many people about my anxiety because they just do not get it. If your therapist or any doctor says any of these things to an anxiety ridden person: RUN, RUN, RUN, Don’t look back. Find a new therapist/doctor. I have been through numerous so called ‘professionals’! I finally found the right one at age 52. And I had been searching since I was in college.
    Signed
    Mary Ellen
    Age 53 1/2

  13. says

    “Are you on your period?” <- My husband. Every. Single. Time.

    I hate him a little. But for real. Not knowing why you feel anxious, sad, or upset is the worst.

  14. Sandy says

    Thank you for posting about this. As someone who hasn’t had major issues with anxiety YET, I have dear family and friends that have. This (and the related post) really helps me as an outsider. Thank you!

  15. Susan says

    My stress level is so acute right now I can barely move my neck, seriously! So, BIG HUGE Thanks for posting this one. I guess it’s not just me. :) You make me laugh hard, you very witty and darling lady!

  16. Heather says

    Can I add: “it’s all in your head” (right. and, you know, in my glands that produce all of this excess adrenaline and cortisol, not to mention my nervous system. there’s that…)

  17. says

    The amount of times I would love to relax my fist into someones face when I get that..! I feel like the crazy one in my house..thank heavens for blogs like yours :) .

  18. says

    So so true – some people just don’t get it. I’m just a little thankful that my mom and sister live with anxiety as well, so there was never any judgment from them. And thank god for an understanding boyfriend!

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