By Aly McHenry
I have struggled with anxiety since I was in the third grade. I have gone through countless types of medication and different types of doctors, and have ended up in the ER more times that I would like to admit.
Anxiety isn’t something that I would wish on my worst enemy. It’s painful. It can push people away. It can cause you to self-destruct. It is a beast that no one would ever want to have in their head.
But while anxiety can be extremely hard to deal with and hard to even explain to other people who don’t have it, anxiety can come with some benefits.
I’m not saying these ‘benefits’ are going to make your anxiety any less painful. I’m not saying these’ benefits’ are going to ease your symptoms, or stop the panic attacks from igniting fire in your lungs. But, while anxiety is usually talked about in a terrible light, I’d like to spread more positivity to the community.
When you’re a friend with someone who has anxiety, you’re befriending someone who will understand when you cancel plans. Individuals with anxiety sometimes need space and alone time to calm themselves down and frequently say no to already concrete plans. If you ever need some space to yourself or are dealing with your own struggles, your friend with anxiety is not going to judge you or belittle you. They would never ever dare to judge someone who they have not walked in the shoes of.
When you’re a friend with someone who has anxiety, you’re friends with someone who will never neglect you. They aren’t going to ditch you for other people, or the ‘cool’ crowd. They know your loyalty and wouldn’t ever dream of giving up a wonderful friendship. You make them feel more comfortable and more at ease. Why would they ever give that up?
When you’re a friend with someone who has anxiety, you’re friends with someone who is incredibly human. This person has their struggles and their problems. They have trouble getting up in the morning and sometimes will isolate themselves because the anxiety can get to be too much. By them being so incredibly real and raw, they will be there for you when you need them. They aren’t going to run or leave just because you are going through hard times.
When you’re a friend with someone who has anxiety, you’re friends with someone who understands. They understand how scary this world can be, They understand how frightening reality is and how no matter how strong you are, the world can always crash down on you.
They aren’t going to dismiss you. They aren’t going to brush off your shoulders when you’re clearly weakened from the world. They aren’t going to roll their eyes at you when you are feeling sad or small. No. They will validate your feelings. They will listen to you with both their ears open wide. They will know how to comfort you, because they have been there. Believe me, they know what its’ like to feel like nothing.
When you’re friends with someone who has anxiety, you’re befriending someone who has their problems and demons, yes. But you can’t let that define your friendship. You can’t let their mental health dictate how you treat them. Some of the best people I know are people with anxiety. Some of the greatest human beings I am friends with, are people who are plagued with anxiety.
Don’t let anxiety take away what could end up being the best friendship of your life. Don’t let anxiety take away a beautiful, beautiful human being.