What to do When an Anxious Partner Struggles
Trauma, anxiety, and panic attacks should be treated with the same mindset as someone who has been knocked down. It is a painful experience that hurts and can be a bit frightening and disorienting. Yet the discomfort will pass with time, wounds will heal, and we will survive.
I would like people to know that pursuing psychological treatment is not a sign of weakness or failure. The stigma has diminished across generations, but seeking counseling is still mentioned in whispers. The social stigma can be seen every time there is a “crazy person” in the news.
All humans struggle with their feelings and can benefit from psychological guidance. I think mental health should be addressed on par with physical health. We get an annual physical, but most do not see the same value in routine mental health checkups.
Seeking counseling is a sign of strength, not weakness. We all need help from time to time and it’s a sign of strength and intelligence to know when to seek support. Someone who has skills and the right tools is an asset, not a liability.
If we have a leaky faucet and the only tool we have is a hammer, just banging on my pipes is only going to make the problem worse. The pipes burst, our basement floods and the foundation cracks. Or we could just call the plumber and they give us a new tool called a wrench, so next time we have a leak,we can fix it ourself.
Counseling offers new tools and professional instruction. If we have a bad tooth, we go to the dentist; if our car breaks down, we go to the mechanic. We get professional support for all kinds of problems and mental health is no different.
It is normal for couples to go through turbulent times together. However, the common challenges that a couple faces can be even more difficult when one partner is struggling with an anxiety.
A partner may feel that they are being the most helpful if they drop everything and only attend to the needs of their partner with anxiety.
Contrary to this belief, it is actually important that partners of those with anxiety spend time on their own self-care. This means that they maintain a social, work, recreational, and spiritual life while remaining supportive to their partner.
Self-preservation means, we take care of me so we can be there for everyone else. To be a good husband/wife, father/mother, son/daughter, brother/sister, friend/employee, we have to care for our own needs first. Self-preservation is like when we are on an airplane and they go over the safety instructions. Selfish is only putting our air mask on while everyone else chokes. Selfless is putting everybody else’s air mask on while we choke. Self-preservation is putting on our air mask first so we can then help those around us.
By taking care of ourself, we are better able to be there for our partner, without having feelings of resentment or guilt. Make an effort to engage in your personal hobbies, exercise, pay attention to our nutritional needs, practice relaxation exercises or find social support.
Karmin, A. (2017). What to do When an Anxious Partner Struggles. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 25, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/anger/2017/09/what-to-do-when-an-anxious-partner-struggles/