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By Debra Farris-Shafer

Ten tips for dating someone with anxiety

I have come to terms with my anxiety. I have come to learn what sets me off and what calms me down and what I should try to avoid so as to not make it worse. However, when I allow someone into my life, romantically or not, they also have to come to terms with my anxiety.

Despite what many people think, you can live a happy and fulfilling life with anxiety! However, there are things people really should know about me and how the world appears to me in order to be able to related to people with anxiety.

I am not my anxiety

I have anxiety and I handle my anxiety, but I am not my anxiety. It is simply a part of me.

I am not the breaths I cannot catch during one of my many panic attacks.

I am not the negative thoughts running through my head that I am not and never will be good enough.

I am the slow breathing that I do to prevent my panic attack from overcoming me.

I am good enough!

I am brave.

I will overcome any obstacle placed in my way!

There are perks

I cannot make a decision without meticulous thought. So I find myself to be more empathetic and understanding about the issues others face because I almost always have a well-thought-out insight from all the analyzing I do. Being loved by someone with anxiety means they think deeply and passionately about loving you.

Those with anxiety are also deeply grateful for the small things. My husband often discreetly checks on me to make sure I'm okay while we are out with friends or family, and that little gesture means the world to me!

Tell me how I can support you

I want to support you just as you support me. You can always count on me to be there for you. Nothing makes me happier than being able to put a smile on my husband's face when he is battling his own demons.

If I don't feel better when you try to help, it's not your fault

The thoughts in my head telling me everything is not okay are so loud! Sometimes they are louder than my husband is when he tells me everything is okay and that I will be fine. I am not being stubborn; it's just hard to ignore the thoughts sometimes. But I try my hardest, so please be patient!

If I do not feel better when you try to help, it's not my fault

Anxiety is not something you can just ignore and move on with like criticism is. When my anxiety starts it usually begins with racing thoughts. Then my chest tightens, my face begins to tingle and I cannot stop it. Trust me – I try with every fiber of my being! Sometimes the thoughts can manifest into something scary, and it can and does scare me to my core!

Occasionally I say things I don't mean

Getting worried and panicking might make us lash out. Please do not take it personally! I remember a time before my husband fully understood my anxiety that we got into an argument about directions while we were driving. He didn't take the right turn and we were late to a friend's birthday, so I refused to go in!

My anxiety wouldn't let me. I knew if I walked in everybody would turn and look at us and I knew I would have a panic attack. I lost my filter and said things before thinking about it and I really hurt his feelings. I apologised for a week straight – even after he said it was fine and forgave me.

Anxiety is a work in progress, and I am willing to put in the work

Anxiety will always be a part of my life: on the bad days and the good. I can handle my anxiety with hard work and consistency as long as I have a support system – and that's what my husband provides for me.

This is hardest on me

My anxiety affects not only our relationship but also every aspect of my life. At times, it's absolutely exhausting. Most of the time, I won't say anything when I'm battling with my thoughts. I promise I don't use my anxiety as an excuse. If I say I'm having issues, you should believe it with all of your heart.

Be real and be honest

Don't keep your frustrations bottled up or to yourself in fear of setting off my anxiety. I need honesty. If I'm being rude, then tell me – sometimes I don't realize it. I get overwhelmed and scared and show it in difficult ways. Just remind me to breathe and that you are there for me! I trust you because I love you.

I love you – thank you for loving me too

Sometimes my thoughts will make me push you away before you can push me away, but we can talk and work through these issues. Thank you for all the support and love you have for me. I promise to return the favor for the rest of our lives!

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