Health and wellness touch each of us differently. This is one person’s story.
I’ve always had anxiety, but this is my first time dating someone who gets it.
From my mental illness being questioned, to being told I need to “get my shit together,” I’ve experienced the pain and frustration that comes from your significant other not believing your experience, not knowing how to support you, or simply not caring.
While our anxieties manifest differently, and no one’s experience is comparable to another’s, I’ve found that the discussions around anxiety with my current partner are complex, intelligent, and caring.
I’d never wish anxiety on anyone, but I can’t help being thankful that she understands what I’m going through.
These are a few of the reasons I’m grateful my partner also has anxiety.
1. We know how to help one another through anxious moments and situations
There are general tools that anyone can use or recommend, such as breathing exercises and visualization, but we can offer personal recommendations, as well.
For example, when I discover a resource that helps me manage my anxiety, I get excited to share that with my partner. I understand her, and I understand anxiety, which puts me in a unique position to really support her in her hardest moments, and vice versa.
2. We don’t question each other’s feelings
Anxiety can be hard to understand when you don’t live with it. I can always count on my girlfriend to validate my experience, because she knows what anxiety feels like — and that it’s very real.
We may not always understand why the other person is anxious, but we never question the anxiety itself. That alone is so validating and comforting.
3. We can separate the anxiety from the person
When anxiety takes over, you aren’t being yourself — not in your truest form.
My partner and I have both said and done things in an anxious state that we wouldn’t have otherwise. We empathize with the other when they’re acting through anxiety, and know that anxiety is the bad guy — not the other person.
4. We prioritize self-care
Movie night in? Epsom salt bath? Alone time to journal and read? Yes, please!
Our dates (and alone time) often revolve around rejuvenation, as we are both very anxious people (if I haven’t made that clear already) with busy schedules. If we have too many expectations or try to cram our time with activities, our mental health can take a serious toll.
So, self-care is always at the top of the list.
With all of this being said, I don’t think that people with anxiety need to pair up with others with anxiety. We’re normal people, after all! And are capable of being with anyone, regardless of whether they live with anxiety or not.
I share the story of my relationship because I feel like there’s often a misconception that dating someone who also has anxiety is like adding fuel to the fire, with some matches sprinkled in.
In reality, I feel nurtured. I feel understood. And, I feel more at ease with my anxiety and mental health than I ever have before. I equate much of that to my wonderful partner and her ability to relate to my feelings.
Brittany is a freelance writer, media maker, and sound lover located in San Francisco. Her work focuses on personal experiences, specifically regarding local arts and culture happenings. More of her work can be found at brittanyladin.com.