Main cause of anxiety today: computer woes. Everything crashing on me just at the most inconvenient point.
And I love an analogy. So I’m taking a break to write something about managing anxiety – as that also can mean everything crashing on me just at the most inconvenient point.
Anxiety is one of the most difficult parts of this condition. And I need to get better at identifying and dealing with it at an early stage so the ‘crash’ is less likely to happen. (My previous technique of pushing through and saying ‘I’m fine’ is apparently not the way to go.)
But sometimes I will need help. And when I do, people need to know what they can do to help me. So I’ve drafted a document setting out what helps and what doesn’t, in the hope that this will eventually turn into something that I can share with people around me.
I hate that I’ve had to come up with this. I hate that I have to be ‘someone with a plan’. But if it helps, then I suppose I will have to swallow my pride and accept that this is just one more thing that comes with the territory. Along with accepting the fact that I need help at all, which is still difficult for me.
I thought I would also post the plan here, as then it’s out there and I can’t pretend that it doesn’t exist and I don’t need it.
(It may be worth saying that in most cases I hope that I won’t need this kind of help; I do have other strategies and techniques that I use when I manage to identify anxiety at an early enough stages, and hopefully getting more aware of that will mean that outside intervention becomes less common over time.)
Things that help
- Ask me if I need help, rather than just assuming
- Help me get to a quiet and private place if possible
- Stay with me
- Apply firm pressure to my lower arm
- Talk in a quiet and calm voice
- Tell me that I am safe / it’s OK
- Remind me to focus
- Sit next to me, not opposite
- Ask other people to leave me alone
- Reassure me if I seem to be getting upset (it’s OK to ask if I want a hug, if you’re comfortable with that – but accept it if the answer is ‘no’)
Things that don’t help
- Asking me detailed questions (yes / no questions are normally fine)
- Pushing me to give an answer
- Making small talk requiring my input (monologues are OK if you absolutely must talk)
- Letting me leave the area while still anxious
- Knocking on the door or table
- Worrying if I’m not talking coherently at first
- Shouting, making demands, or otherwise escalating the situation
In extreme circumstances…
If the points outlined above are followed – in particular the one about not escalating the situation – then this stage should be rare. However, there can be situations that tip me straight into this kind of reaction, so you need to know how to help if that happens.
- If I am pacing up and down – stay in the room but out of my way and let me pace. It is important not to talk to me or touch me until I am seated.
- If I am hitting my head, slapping my arms or pulling my hair – stop me by pulling my hands away and securing them on a table if possible. [Note that I am not trying to hurt myself – simply trying to get some form of physical input. I am never violent towards anyone else and am able to stop as soon as I realise what I am doing.]