Because having anxiety doesn’t mean you can’t have a healthy and happy love life.
It’s weird: millions of people around the world suffer from anxiety disorders, and yet we still feel alone.
We have panic attacks and feel like we’re dying; we worry that people will think we’re flaky and annoying; we wonder if we’re too broken to ever make a relationship work. Whenever I hear someone say that you have to be healthy before you can be in a healthy relationship, I think, I guess that counts me out.
When you have anxiety, it’s hard to know where rational thought ends and your anxiety begins. My brain feels like a dog chasing its own tail sometimes, constantly second-guessing my instincts and leaving me mentally drained. Relationships are hard, whether you suffer from mental illness or not – or at least, that’s what everyone says. But how would I really know? What I do know is that my anxiety has nipped a potential relationship (or three) in the bud. Sometimes it was because I panicked and withdrew, pulling a disappearing act as soon as things got serious. And sometimes I did the opposite, turning into a clingy, needy bundle of nerves that scared would-be boyfriends away.
The first thing to know? Guys who get scared off aren’t worth your time. If your anxiety drives someone away, good riddance to him. The good ones will stick around. Still, there are things you can do to help your relationship stay on track. Here are 14 ways to keep your anxiety from ruining a good thing:
1. Keep the lines of communication open. It can be hard to talk about your anxiety; it’s easier to withdraw. Resist the urge and let your partner in.
2. Have a support network outside of your partner. Family, friends, support groups, a therapist – having these people in your life ensures that your partner has backup and doesn’t feel alone in supporting you.
3. Learn to silence your negative thoughts. When your brain starts swirling with panic and dread, take a moment and just breathe.
4. Take care of your physical health. Get enough sleep, eat well, take your meds, exercise – in short, do everything you can to be good to yourself and keep your anxiety in check naturally.
5. Be open about your struggles. Sharing the hard stuff can actually bring you closer, if you let it.
6. Don’t make it all about you. Your partner may not be dealing with anxiety or other mental health issues, but they still have bad days, and still need support.
7. Nurture your relationship. A healthy, loving bond with your partner can be a huge help when you have anxiety, but a bad relationship can make it worse. Do everything you can to keep your love strong.
8. Seek out treatment. There’s no shame in taking medication or seeing a therapist. Get help if you need it.
9. Don’t let fear take over. Fear and anxiety are good buddies; they never go anywhere without each other. But fear can destroy your relationship, if you let it drive the bus. Make it sit in the backseat.
10. Maintain interests outside of your relationship. It’s good to do your own thing sometimes, and even more so when you’re dealing with mental health issues. Making your partner the center of your world puts a lot of pressure on him.
11. Have fun together. Anxiety is serious, but that doesn’t mean you have to be serious all the time. Make it a point to laugh and have fun every day.
12. Keep your sex life hot. Physical touch is therapeutic, and being intimate with your partner nurtures your bond. Find ways to connect sexually, even when you’re not feeling so hot.
13. Ask for what you need. Your partner isn’t a mind-reader, much as you’d like him to be. Don’t tie yourself up in knots, when you could just be forthcoming about your needs.
14. Remember that you’re worthy of love. Having anxiety doesn’t mean you can’t have a healthy relationship. You’re not broken – you’re beautiful.
Main image via Tumblr, GIFs via youtube, netflix, tumblr
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