My Wife’s Help Often Makes Anxiety Worse
When I was younger, there was a public service announcement that ran over and over that explained that the majority of car accidents happen within a few miles from home. The purpose of this message was to encourage people to wear their seatbelts, even when travelling short distances.
I was a precocious youngster and when I saw these commercials I thought to myself, “No kidding! You travel close to your home most of the time, so it’s just common sense that most of the accidents would happen there.”
Anxiety and panic disorder follow a similar pattern. Since I am home more than I am away, the majority of my anxiety and panic issues occur at home. Additionally, I am more likely to have elevated anxiety before I fall asleep and I spend most nights in my own bed.
Connecting all the dots and following this logic to its conclusion means that I am often experiencing elevated levels of anxiety when I am with my wife. She lives in the house with me, sleeps in our bed on most nights, and, therefore, is present during most of my elevated anxiety. Many people think this would be helpful to me, but after two years of marriage, I can say for an absolute certainty that my wife’s help often makes my anxiety worse.
Our Partners Are Often Unsung Heroes in Our Fight Against Anxiety
I want to clarify that my wife is extremely helpful during a full-blown, shake-the-earth, heart-racing, five-alarm panic attack. We have discussed in this blog before about what family members can do to help and she has mastered many of those techniques. I feel the need to say that because many of our partners are unsung heroes in our fight against anxiety.
There is a level of anxiety that I have learned to manage by myself. Somewhere between normal and panic attack lies a level of high anxiety. This anxiety causes me some issues, but I can still manage. My wife knows when this is happening. Her instinct is to assist me, to help me feel better, to save the day. This, unfortunately, backfires more often than not.
I don’t want her to be worried about me. I don’t want my issues to negatively affect anyone else, especially my wife. Dealing with my anxiety issues while being concerned about someone else is a challenge.
We Must Be Open About Our Anxiety Issues
Managing any chronic health condition quickly becomes the concern of an entire family. We must be open about our anxiety issues so that our loved ones know what they should and should not do when we are experiencing symptoms.
The people closest to us know us well and trying to hide anything as big as anxiety is nearly impossible. As difficult as it is to manage anxiety and deal with our loved ones trying to help us, it is even more difficult to manage anxiety and try to convince them that their suspicions are unfounded — because their suspicions aren’t unfounded.
They will not believe us when we say we’ll ask for help when we need it unless we are honest with them. Being completely open about our anxiety issues goes a long way to them trusting us to manage our own illness. If we aren’t communicating well, they are left to guess. This helps no one. Creating an honest dialogue, answering questions, and keeping them informed relieves their anxiety about our anxiety.
Howard, G. (2014, August 27). My Wife’s Help Often Makes Anxiety Worse, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, August 12 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2014/08/wifes-help-makes-anxiety-worse
Author: Gabe Howard
Great article! It sums up how I feel about my husband trying to help. It can often make things worse.
Cathy - Thank you so much for reading and commenting. Feel free to share this with him and let him know that while you may appreciate his help -- it isn't always necessary. Big Hugs, Gabe