Categories
Marriage

3 Ways to Help Your Spouse Who Has Anxiety

Almost everyone I know has an anxiety disorder or at least has had a panic attack at least once in his or her life. With this in mind, I am astounded that people exist who have never had a panic attack or even understand what it’s like to have anxiety. One of these people may be your spouse.

Anxiety is like another language. Those of us who have anxiety understand it completely, but those who don’t have anxiety are oblivious to what we feel. If you have a spouse with anxiety, and somehow you’ve managed to live on this planet thus far without any panicky experiences, you need to show your spouse you understand somehow.

Based on my own experience with a man who has no anxious bone in his body, here are some ways to help your spouse overcome their own anxiety. For the sake of saving word count, I’m using the “she” pronoun. This is based on my own experience anyway, and I am in fact a woman.

1. Tell her (and show her) you care

Anxiety is a very isolating disorder. When you have a panic attack, you feel alone. You feel like no one understands you.

If you don’t struggle with anxiety, you definitely do not understand why your spouse is acting the way she is or thinking what she’s thinking. Anxiety is irrational sometimes, but to your spouse, those anxious thoughts are as real as ever. Instead of trying to fix her, show her you care.

In the medical drama New Amsterdam, Max Goodwin, the Medical Director of the hospital, always asks his team and his patients, “How can I help?” Be like Max Goodwin to your spouse. When she feels alone, take a hold of her hand and ask her, “How can I help?”

She may know the answer, but sometimes she won’t. Sometimes she just needs you to sit there with her and listen to her talk. Sometimes she feels uncomfortable and may need to leave a situation. Always show her that you are on her side, even when her anxiety confuses you.

2. If you need more information, ask questions

I had a friend in high school who was afraid of pennies. Seriously? At first, I thought she was just seeking attention, but when I asked her about it, her answer made sense.

It turns out that she believed pennies were dirty and was afraid of the germs on the penny, not the penny itself. Why she was only afraid of pennies and not other coins, I don’t know, but instead of judging her, I accepted her and met her where she was.

Fears like going to parties, taking public transportation, and even going to work can make absolutely no sense to others. On the other hand, those who have social anxiety, PTSD, or work anxiety are totally gripped with fear at the thought of any of these activities. If you’re wondering why your spouse is anxious about a good thing, all you have to do is ask.

For me personally, I’m happy to answer questions about my anxiety. It doesn’t embarrass me to explain my fears, unless you make me feel like an idiot for having them. Truthfully, I don’t open up to you or listen to your advice unless I know you’re on my side.

3. Take her mind off of the problem

Since I have OCD, sometimes the best way to help me is to distract me from my anxiety. My panic attacks dissipate when I’m no longer thinking about whatever makes me anxious. If your spouse has OCD or an extreme phobia, help her take her mind off of the experience.

While you will need to help her deal with the root cause of her anxiety in the long run, if you’re out with your family or on vacation and her anxiety acts up, you need to distract her and help her as fast as you can.

4. Remember that your spouse is not a project who needs to be fixed

Anxiety is a mental disorder, but that does not mean that your spouse is a project. Your spouse is a person. Your spouse needs you to love her, care for her, and walk with her through this.

Now that you are one, this anxiety is yours, too. I’m still a newlywed, but I’ve heard that over time, you start to feel what your spouse is feeling and think what your spouse is thinking. I’m sorry if you feel your spouse’s anxiety, but instead of fixing her, show her you’re on her side.

You can show her you’re on her side by:

  • listening to her without judgment
  • praying for her on a daily basis
  • pulling her out of a situation when she is uncomfortable
  • standing up for her when others don’t understand

Pray for your spouse with anxiety

Ultimately, the only people who could heal your spouse with anxiety are her and God.

When you don’t understand, pray. When you want to be there for her but don’t know how, pray. When you’ve done everything you could to fix her and she’s still struggling, pray.

I believe God will give you the words. I believe God will give you the wisdom to help her. I believe God will ultimately heal your spouse from anxiety.

On behalf of all those who struggle with anxiety, thank you for taking the first step toward understanding your spouse and her deepest struggle.


Photo by Toimetaja tõlkebüroo on Unsplash

Categories
anxiety

God Only Knows, But You Should Ask

For King and Country’s new song “God Only Knows” has me crying every time I watch the video. It’s been on repeat since I discovered it about a month ago. The video to this song portrays the internal battle of a woman who is about to commit suicide. Spoiler alert, at the end of the video, her friend notices something is wrong and helps her before she ends it all. God only knows what we’ve been through, because there is no way of knowing what people are going through unless we take the time to ask.

I love writing about how to overcome anxiety because it helps me to overcome anxiety. When I take my eyes off of myself and see that those around me suffer from anxiety, loneliness, and depression, I feel a little less alone. If you suffer from anxiety, take a look around. There are people who need you, even in your brokenness, because even in our brokenness and pain, God can use us to help one another.

For those who have never suffered with depression or anxiety, let me give you a tip: people who are depressed or anxious may never reach out for help. You may tell them that they can come to you any time, that your door is always open, and you’ll always be a safe place, but they will never believe you until you prove it.

There is a sense of guilt and shame around anxiety and depression. Honestly, anxiety and depression go hand in hand. Anxiety is what I feel when I’m full of energy, worried about the future, and depression is when I’m tired, worried about the past. When I tell people I’ve struggled with depression, the FIRST words out of their mouths are usually, “Why didn’t you tell me?” I wish I could communicate the shame I felt from that. Even when I talk about my depression, I feel guilty for being such a downer. Also, often, like with my anxiety, when I talk about it, the people I talk to just want to fix me, not help me.

I share that because I know I’m not alone. I have a good support system, people who I know will pray for me when I’m at my lowest. If you’re worried about me, feel free to reach out, because that’s the point of this post, but please don’t see this as a cry for help. However, there may be some people out there who have nobody, who feel like they’re trapped in their guilt and shame.

God only knows what you’ve been through, but I will do whatever it takes to be there for you and help you work through it.

I heard a sermon from Holly Furtick about giving what you want to receive. Lately, what I’ve wanted to receive is authentic connections with people, not just the casual “Hey, how are you?” I get most often from those around me. I’ve wanted my friends to hold me accountable and to celebrate God’s blessings with me. Thank God, He has provided that through the small groups I’ve been involved with at my church and through reconnecting with some friends after a busy summer.

Listening to that sermon, I wondered how often I do that for other people. I expect people to check up on me and to ask me how I’m doing, but when was the last time I sent a text to my friend asking how I could pray for her? What if my friends are battling depression or anxiety and don’t know how to ask for help? What if people, like me, are afraid of being condemned for their struggles? I can’t read their minds, so I’m going to do whatever it takes to show them that I’m here for them, and take the time to listen to them if they need help.

God only knows what is going on in our hearts, but I guarantee that someone else in your circle has pain in his/her heart too. Reach out to those around you, if you sense that they need help, and God may give you the courage to share your own struggles.

How can we know who is hurting around us? God only knows. In the video, the main character didn’t tell her friend about her plan, but her friend could see something was bothering her. Be aware of your friends and take time to pray for them. God will give you insight into how to pray for them and how to help them as needed.


Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash