Anxiety is unfortunately something that plagues a lot of us. It is a result of a fallen world. An overcommitted world. An over-caffeinated world. A world that struggles and strives for perfectionism.
Anxiety can be something that happens because of a traumatic experience we have endured, it can be from the way people have been treated by others, it can happen from being let down, from being a perfectionist, from poor time-management, poor life choices, medical reasons, and several other causes that often times are not even our fault.
No matter what the root of your anxiety is, it can be hard for boyfriends or husbands to understand sometimes. Personally, my husband was super overwhelmed the first time I had an attack with anxiety.
I struggle a lot with insecurities. I can't handle social events well because I'm constantly overthinking every move people make, convinced that they are so much better than me. Instead of celebrating people's beauty and accomplishments, I usually find myself struggling to breathe because I feel less-than. I am like a walking time bomb for anxiety some days, even though I'm fighting for healing. My fears are irrational but they are also very real. I long to be successful and have my life tied together in a pretty bow.
When my husband wasn't my husband and he was just a guy I was dating, he brought me to an expensive restaurant for dinner. He told me to order whatever I wanted and you know what I ordered? A kids size little plate of mash potatoes. We sat there in silence as I tried consuming my mini meal and he watched me as my leg shook the whole table. I was so nervous. I wasn't nervous because I liked him so much, but I was nervous because I felt so much pressure to be the perfect date. After that, I had to tell him how big of an issue anxiety was for me.
My husband is a very compassionate human being, but he has always had trouble dealing with a lot of emotions from other people. He just doesn't know how to console someone who is completely overcome by their feelings. He wants to fix the issue at hand right away and he has a tough time just sitting there feeling with another person - and I'm sure many men feel this way. He had to learn to open up another portion of his heart and tap into a part of himself that he never had to before. It took a long time, but he did it. He now knows how to keep my world together when I'm falling apart.
He has helped me grow so much through this struggle. Even though I still fail sometimes, he has given me so much love and steadiness, that I have the courage to keep trying.
I took the liberty to ask him what some of the things are that he has done for both himself and for me, to help cope with my anxiety.
Here is what he said:
Prayer: This looks different every time it happens. Sometimes I am crying uncontrollably and then I open my eyes and he is on his knees on the side of the bed silently praying for me. Sometimes he prays angrily to get the enemy out of our home and is so much louder than my groans that I am automatically centered. Sometimes he wraps me in his arms and silently prays over me. I know for a fact that he prays for me about this issue, even if I'm not struggling with an attack at the moment. He tells me that on his way to work he will shut off the radio and he asks the Lord to give him a heart to understand mine.
Stating Facts: For some reason, when Ron takes my shoulders and looks me in the eyes and says "Your lungs have the capacity to breathe. You're not going to die. You are okay." suddenly, I wind up feeling much better. Because my thoughts and anxiety are so far from the truth, stating simple facts helps me refocus my brain on the things that are real and not false. The best medicine sometimes comes from talking through every situation with logical and methodical thinking.
Worship: If I'm sitting on the bathroom floor with a broken heart, Ron will just start singing praises. Not kidding. He will just come next to me and start singing hymns and eventually, I'll sing along with him. It definitely calms me down.
Seeking Advice: I know that Ron has gone to other men and asked them what exactly he should do in certain situations. He said that through this counsel, he has been able to grow and seek community from other men who have been able to support him and encourage him to love me even more through these rough patches.
Keeping Busy: Ron and I like to have fun. We like to distract ourselves from stress and anxiety by just hanging out, baking together, watching movies, drinking some coffee, and even coloring together. It takes the edge off. When I find myself in a triggering situation, I let him know and we try and fill our time by changing the scene and focusing on letting loose.
Leaving Me Alone With God: Let's be honest... Ron is not my cure to anxiety. He is just there to lead me back to Christ. If my anxiety is really bad and he has exhausted every avenue to try and help me, yet nothing is working, he leaves me in the room alone with a Bible. God is the one who is ultimately going to give me the peace that I need. I have to remember to allow Him to guide me, rather than putting all of my needs in human hands.
These are just a few steps that you can share with your boyfriend or husband if anxiety is something you wrestle with. Having someone by your side who cares for you and acknowledges your needs is one of the greatest gifts in life. Having someone who wants to see you the way God sees you is beautiful, and can help anxiety flair ups go so much smoother.