I Just Want to Run Away
Helping your partner through anxiety
Have you ever had the feeling of just wanting to run away? Like you just feel anxious and you know something is wrong. When other people are making you feel anxiety because they’re doing something but you don’t want to say anything because you want to avoid a fight. Especially if it’s unprovoked.
This morning I woke up feeling anxious pretty much about everything. I’m oversleeping, I’m lazy, I need to go to the gym, I need to cook something, I need to stop eating out, it’s almost time to get ready for work, I wish emma could stay little forever, I have to pay bills, the house is messy, I’m congested, I need to drink more water. Like all these thoughts just at once as soon as I wake up. I don’t know how some people can just wake up every morning so relaxed and able to just live in the moment. It also takes me a while to actually wake up. Like I’m still half asleep for a little bit.
I started picking stuff up and trying to tidy up the mess. Or at least in my mind it felt like a mess. Clearing the table, clearing the counters, putting toys away. Like I’ve literally only been awake for 20 minutes at this point.
When you’re in an anxious state, there are things that bother you. Maybe all things bother you and you just want to be left alone. I think it’s part of feeling over stimulated like I’ve talked about before.
My partner wakes up the total opposite of me. He’s a total joker so he wakes up singing and making jokes. Not just one or two. He is just constantly making jokes and singing fart songs one after another. It can be extremely overwhelming especially to a person who is feeling anxious and not good. I held my tongue because I don’t want to say anything because I’m the past when I bring up the fact that this makes me anxious, it upsets him and can start an argument. Which only makes my anxiety worse.
As I’m picking things up off the table he says to me “why are you cleaning the table?”. I respond and say because the table is a mess. He then laughs and says “all that stuff is only going to go right back on the table in a minute”. I say “it’s part of my ocd and anxiety”. He then dismisses it and says “that’s not ocd or anxiety. That’s just you. Nobody does that”. He then picks up the roll of paper towels and scoots it over 2 inches and says “omg there thats better” in a sarcastic tone and then laughs. Continues to laugh. I’m just upset at this point and disappointed.
When your partner expresses to you that they’re feeling anxious about something, you don’t get to dismiss what they’re feeling. You don’t get to tell them how they’re feeling and especially don’t laugh at how they’re feeling. It may not make sense to you and may seem not important but to the person experiencing it, it’s legit and they probably hate feeling that way. It’s these small day to day interactions that mean the most. I understand sometimes other people may not understand or see the importance of it but being supportive goes a long way.
Some ways you can support an anxious partner are:
Increase your awareness of what anxiety looks like for them. It would be helpful to have a discussion before hand on what adds stress in their day to day life. What types of things trigger feelings of anxiety and what do they need from you when that happens.
Do not minimize their feelings. Like I said earlier, even if it makes no sense to you, their mind is literally going a million miles per hour and feel very real. Try to understand where they’re coming from and validate what they are feeling.
If you feel like you really don’t know enough about what going on then I would encourage you do educate yourself. Doing your own research can help your partner feel understood and learn how to communicate better with your partner during anxiety episodes. If your partner expressed that they are feeling anxious, do not question them. Dont ask “why”. Instead try saying something more supportive and put yourself in their place.
Your job is not to help your partner get rid of their anxiety but rather help them manage their symptoms. Dont go into "fixing" mode but instead supporting them in making the day a little better.
We all make mistakes and aren't perfect. We also are not mind readers. So if you know you are prone to get anxiety in certain situations, talk to your partner about it ahead of time. I realized I just felt like he should automatically know but he did not know I was feeling anxious in the moment. It takes two people to communicate. Finding what works will be constant work. We are all learning and growing everyday.
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