13 Things NOT To Say To Someone With Anxiety

I’ve been pretty open with my struggles with anxiety. Unfortunately, it’s gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. And recently, I’ve been struggling quite a bit. I haven’t been sleeping well, I’m nervous about things that didn’t bother me a few months ago and I find myself worrying a lot more than usual. It’s okay, I’m doing what I need to do in order to take care of it, but it’s still kind of scary.

I’m happy to talk about my anxiety because I don’t want anyone to feel alone if they’re struggling too. I didn’t have anyone to talk to for a long time. And people also didn’t want to discuss mental issues before. I think we still have a long way to go in terms of discussing mental illness, but I’m glad that it’s slowly becoming less taboo.

One thing that bothers me though is that people don’t take the time to understand it. It’s frustrating and some people can be really insensitive. In general, just don’t say things like this to people with anxiety.

“Just calm down.”

Oh okay! Yeah, I’ll just calm down right after this panic attack. It’s not a big deal, I’m just sort of hyperventilating a bit. Yeah, you telling me to calm down is exactly what I needed to hear, thanks so much!

“Are you nervous?”

Are you going to keep asking me that every time we do something? If so, I have other less annoying people I can hang out with.

“It’s okay, I get anxious about things too.”

O RLY? YOU DO? Maybe you do, but being anxious and having anxiety are not the same thing. You being a little nervous before presenting in class is not the same as the crippling fear I have when I walk outside every morning, kthanks.

“But you HAVE to come!”

Yeah, no I don’t.

“It’s just a party.”

And you’re just irritating me. Anxiety attack plus party plus people does not make for a good time to me.

“There really aren’t that many people here.”

One person can feel like a million people to me at any given time so yeah there ARE that many people here. And you do not feel crowds the same way that I do so just stop talking.

“Why did you even come?”

Why would you even say something like that? Maybe I wanted to hang out and see people because I was feeling okay and then was overwhelmed and couldn’t help it. Or maybe I’m reacting to your ignorance, I don’t really know.

“But you’re not always like this.”

Yeah because some days are better than others. And some days I hide how I’m feeling so I can avoid jerk statements like the one you just said.

“You know [insert dumb statistic here] is more likely to happen, right?”

You know I’m more likely to ignore you for the rest of today, right? Having anxiety means I have irrational fears that seriously bother me and make it hard to live my life like a normal person. I don’t need you to give me some BS statistics about how sharks are more afraid of me than I am of them.

“Are you medicated?”

Are you? It’s none of your business.

“You should try being more positive.”

You should try shutting your mouth. Do I want to be able to see the world in your rainbow colored sparkly glasses? Sure. But I can’t sometimes because I literally think I’m going to die 75% of the time. I can tell you a million things that will go wrong with an activity because my brain is convinced that something bad will happen.

“Conquering your fears is the only way you’re going to get rid of them.”

LOL OKAY. One of my exes tried that by throwing me into the ocean unannounced and there was a shark in the water. I had a full-blown panic attack on a boat.

“Anxiety isn’t a real thing. It’s just in your head.”

Did… did you really just say that?
Do you have anxiety? Do people ever ask you stupid questions? What’s the worst thing someone has ever said to you? Tell us in the comments!

Don’t say dumb things to people with depression either.

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Posted in: Mental Health Facts
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  • Gabrielle Roth

    “you know, i’ve only ever seen blondes with anxiety… no offense, i’m just saying” -my soon after EXboyfriend…
    1. How many people with anxiety have you met?
    2. i just opened up to you and you say that?!

  • Tia Alberti

    Let me clear something up for you Leslie. Medications such as anti depressants may be effective some of the time, but they can also have adverse effects, further exacerbating the problem. I know this because I have tried three different anti depressants, two which of brought on suicidal thoughts – something that I hadn’t experienced up until that point. Luckily I have found one that seems to be working, but it took 10 years and thousands of wasted dollars to get to this point. We know it is all in our heads, but that doesn’t make it any less real or valid.

  • Shannon Wright

    Ok so!… my teacher wanted to talk to me after class right? And by the way at the time I would ask her the same questions through email, almost everyday, because they never got a chance to be answered. And cause looking, taking, or even hearing her voice made me choke with crippling fear. Therefore I would die at the thought of talking in person. So she called me over after class and says “Shannon! Hey! Come here! :)” I froze for a sec, then stiffly made my way over to her. She was patting a spot about 5 in away from her. “Come here! :)” I got slightly closer. “Closer :/…” She said. I got a little bit closer. Next thing I know this random kid comes over and says “it’s easy” and makes his way right next to her and looks at her with ease. I was LITERALLY DROWNING in my sorrows. Then says “see?” Then the teacher says “wait right here!” She goes inside and I sit there and contemplate on whether I should leave to the 7th grade floor.( from the band room there was a long hallway, a left turn and another long hallway, so I didn’t really escape if I wanted to) so to my dismay she comes back quicker than I imagined. Then says “ok let’s walk.”
    I think to myself, ‘oh Lord. It was bad enough making the lack of eye contact. Or even processing the moment.! 3(‘ We then begin walking. And her being her little teacherly self, she walks a little slower than I do. But only that but considering my had was pulsing with anxiety, that made me walk faster. So “Shannon slow down!” I stop for a sec, then keep going. Somehow I was still faster. I had my head down the whole time. She then says ” Shannon..am I walking faster or slower than you?” “UU-UHHH s-same pace?” I quickly say. “NO I’M NOT!!” She blurted from behind. Then I heard her saying something and I keep saying “*sighs* OK!!” over and over. She kept trying to tell me stuff, and anxiety took over. She paused in between sentences and words. I cen could tell she wa very hurt by me ignoring her. :/ 3(. she said “and what you can do to perfect flute and clarinet is,-” confused and hurt by my anxiety like symptoms she then said ” ….im not gonna answer your question cuz your being rude…” I then silently barked a little bit. And ran away. Behind me all I heard was “yeah” and “I know she-…”

    Anyway sorry for the long message but my point was that my point was that the dumbest thing was the whole ” cuz your being ‘rude'” thing.

  • Sarah

    Okay, it is in our heads, its a mental disorder. But not everyone has it bad enough to where you CAN or WILL be prescribed something. For example, I don’t, and I have panic attacks when I am late or when plans change even a little bit, when I get spoken to in public, when I pay for something at a cash register, when I have to walk across a road in front of stopped cars, when I want to get lunch at school. I recently started counseling and I have learned to minimize my panic attacks, but all that does is keep your breathing in order, it does not stop you from having the extreme irrational fears that you have.

  • na6289

    I was told by my own family that I am simply being dramatic and to cut it the hell out. I CANNOT control my anxiety when people are yelling at me…advice on this?

  • Megan

    I to get anxiety and these are some things you just don’t say to a person. anxiety is nothing to be messed with. I’m sure we all get it. that’s part of being who we are. Human!!!

  • Hana

    “Just be happy”
    Cause, you know, I can turn it on and off at will. Would you tell a person with cancer to “just feel better”? Of course not! How silly of me to be depressed when I could just “be happy”!

    Or how about…

    “Get more sleep”
    All I do is sleep! I could not sleep more. Some days I sleep a solid 12-18 hours. I can assure you that lack of sleep does NOT cause clinical depression.

  • NicksGurl

    I have a real bad phobia of needles. I had 183 stitches done with nothing to knock me out when I was little. Having anxiety disorders doesn’t exactly help my fear either. Every time someone recommends I get a shot I get a little space-y and I say no a lot. My family has the nerve to tell me multiple times to “suck it up” and that “It’s just a needle. Just get it done and get it over with.” Last time I even got “Stop freaking out when someone recommends you get a shot. It’s embarrassing.” I get SO mad when they do that, especially because I have explained to them that the definition of a phobia is something that you’re irrationally afraid of and can’t help it. In the end their nice enough to allow me to skip getting the shot, but I wish they could do that without the nagging.

  • Sarah

    I have GAD and my Mum always tells me “it’s all in your head. There doctors are making things up”. THAT / GETS/ ON / MY / NERVES.
    Like absolutely not. I’m sorry that i have a panic attack every time i have to leave the house, but i can’t make this go away.
    And considering all the medications you have me on, you must believe the doctors too.

  • Megan

    Spot on. My mom always asks me if I’m nervous before things while I’m in the bathroom vomiting or breaking down. The worst is probably “Calm down” though. Like. I’M TRYING. or WOW THANKS THAT HADN’T OCCURRED TO ME. Like what, do they think I want to be petrified before any type of social interaction?