Most of the time, I deal with my anxiety by myself. My husband works a 9-5 job, he has obligations, he has friends to see. I try as much as possible not to keep him from doing what he loves, even though I cannot participate. Therefore, I have an average of 9-12 hours a day where I am completely alone at our apartment. For that portion of the day, I handle my anxiety. Yet, it is always a relief when I see my husbands headlights turning into the driveway (darn you winter with your darkness at 4:45).
The reason I am so relieved is because my anxiety is handled differently when my husband is home. When I am alone, I use survival techniques the majority of the time. I do yoga, take a shower, get fresh air, distract myself. When I am anxious, I am not normally in the state of mind to “self-talk”, and therefore cannot convince myself that the anxious thoughts that I am having are not rooted in reality. I just use another method ot get through the panic. This is okay on a surface level basis, because I am able to cope on my own and still achieve things in my day.
However, when my husband is home, he is able to talk with me about my anxieties. My panic attacks not only last for a shorter period of time from his comfort and reasoning, but I also get the chance to practice talking through my anxiety and the racing thoughts that I experience.
The support of my husband began when I first started allowing him to witness my panic attacks in the first place. Before we were married, if he was over at my house and I was suffering, I would run up to draw a bath, and would just text him for the hour it would take for me to return to normalcy. Eventually, I asked him to come up with me. He would come upstairs and hug me, reassure me, and just keep me company in such an isolating time.
Right before we got married, he branched out and started to assist me in challenging my thoughts and actions. One of my favorite methods my husband has of “grounding” me is what I call squishing me. When I am shaking in the middle of a panic attack, unable to breathe or sit still, I will call for him to squish me. All that this really is is laying on top of me, which forces me to be still, but there is something about the weight on my chest, and being able to “hide” under his body that is incredibly soothing.
Now that we are married my husband works with me constantly. He challenges the thoughts that I have regarding food and stomach upset that comes from my emetophobia. He sits with me and listens to my racing thoughts and helps me to find logic in the situation so that I can discover why my thoughts are not true. He pushes me to go out of the home and become active in the world again, while always being a calming presence.
My husband has the perfect personality to help with my anxiety. He is calm almost all of the time, it takes quite a bit to shake him. He is also extremely laid back, which helps him to show me why my millions of worries are not worth my time. He is quiet, he is reassuring, he is patient, and he is a good listener. He strives to search for ways to help me, all while paying attention to my every move. My husband knows my body language better than anyone. There have been times where I swear he picks up on my anxiety before I do, nothing gets by him.
One of my favorite recent examples of what my husband has been able to do for me in the past three months we have been married was a few weeks ago at a bookstore. I love books, and one of my favorite activites to do to work on my agoraphobia is going to a bookstore about five minutes from our house and spending time there. The first time we went I was so worked up. I was overjoyed at being at a bookstore again, but the anxiety was there. My husband was with me the entire time, and I was constantly checking to see how close he was to me. At the point of the example I am going to use, we had been to the store several times, and I had worked on trying to look for books alone while he looked at video games or other things of interest (my husband is not a reader). This night, we went to the bookstore, and I was anxious. I didn’t want to go, I didn’t feel like facing my fears, I just wanted to stay home. My husband pushed me to go, and we drove to the store. He gave me a supportive hug before we went inside, and I was very on edge. Yet, as the minutes went by, I started to feel more brave. I suddenly decided that I was going to go off on my own in the store. I informed my husband of this, and went off into the bookshelves for about fifteen minutes alone, with no idea where he was. This was one of the most freeing moments of the past few months of my life. Anxiety likes to steal joy, however, so the racing thoughts soon came back. I decided to go find my husband, and sought him out. I saw him in the video game section, and a wave of calm came over me. I went and squatted next to where he was looking, and he was all ears. I admitted I was feeling anxious, and he did everything right in order to calm me back down. We ended up having an amazing time at the store that night, staying for about an hour (which is amazing for me).
The reason that this is my favorite story of my husband and I recently is because it shows everything that he is to me. He is a motivator. He pushed me to go to the store when I did not want to, because he had faith that I could do it and would enjoy myself. He is one of the large reasons that I am learning to have freedom. Being his wife pushes me to be better every day. To find the independence and strength to run our house, to overcome my anxiety, and yes, even to walk alone in the store. But most importantly, he knows me deeply, he loves me better than anyone else in the world, and I know that he will always be there to comfort me. He knows my limits, he knows my needs, and he cares.
If you are struggling with mental health, I urge you to find someone who can be a support system for you. It is extremely convenient that my support is my husband, because I spend the majority of my time with him. But it could truly be anyone, a parent, a sibling, or a friend. I would simply recommed finding a person that you trust, and allowing them to know you deeply. Being truly known has been one of the greatest tools I have had in beginning to overcome anxiety.