12. Relationships and Anxiety


After writing last week’s post about how others deal with my anxiety, it got me thinking about how I deal with others after being diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Most relationships will change and evolve as we age. However, I find that as someone with anxiety, these relationship changes can become accelerated because you really get to see someone’s “true colours” when you fall ill. You also get to fully understand how deep that relationship really is. Who are the people that come to visit you at the hospital? Who will be there no matter what? Who do you feel comfortable talking to about your mental illness?

I remember when I was really sick at the hospital, the thought of having to deal with people was the last thing on my mind. However, I knew I couldn’t just disappear off the face of the earth without any sort of explanation. So I dealt with it the best I could at that time. Now that I am feeling better, I can look back at it all and reflect on how that hospital stay was a catalyst for a slight shift in all my relationships. It added another dimension and layer to my understanding of that person and how I will interact with them in the future.

For example, my parent’s way of dealing with my anxiety was to feed me and take care of my necessities. They were not that interested in hearing about all my thoughts and feelings or the nitty-gritty details about my mental illness. At first, I felt a bit of resentment about that, but now I understand that is their way if dealing with it the best way they knew how. We can’t expect everyone to cater to our expectations of them because that would be unrealistic and unfair and take away what is unique about them. Every relationship in our life fulfills us, teaches us something, and helps us grow. I have learned to appreciate that over the years.


11. Am I That Fragile?


Since mental illness is considered a chronic condition, there is no cure. Treatment is all about managing the symptoms and creating a sense of balance. It is different for everyone but treatment could include exercise, medication, talk therapy and even blogging. For me, I find that balance can be quite difficult to achieve because it is dependent on so many factors, like if I have eaten well that day or if I had a super busy day at work. It is definitely a challenge I face everyday.

One factor that I find really difficult to deal with is how others react to me. As someone with anxiety, I find I will often be worried about what others think of me. Even though I feel more comfortable around family members, I find that because my family is important to me, their comments affect me even more. My uncle and me have always had an up and down relationship. After an argument many years back where he was very frank about some of my choices in my life, we kind of stopped talking authentically to each other. We tended to hover around topics that would be considered small talk. We even avoided spending one-and-one time each other as much as possible. Lately, I found out that he avoided travelling to come visit me because he felt he would stress me out. My family members reassured me it was probably not me causing this issue, his own anxiety probably prevented him for travelling, but it got me thinking. Should I be avoiding people that make me anxious or confront them?

I must admit I talk about my anxiety so that others can understand my illness. It relieves me the stress of having to hide it and having to explain anxiety-induced behaviours. I also discuss what others can do and say to help my anxiety. Basically, I teach others how to deal with me and my illness. Ironically though, I also feel insulted when people feel like they have to walk on eggshells when they are around me. It makes me feel useless and even more fragile. I want to tell them that I actually can handle some stress and that with treatment, I am able to live a relatively healthy life. To find balance between these two streams of thought isn’t easy for me sometimes. On one hand, I want people to understand me, but on the other hand, I don’t wanted to be treated like a fragile creature. How do you find the balance?

10. Shared Perspectives


This week, I was thinking about how much blogging has helped me. Other than being a place where I can express my thoughts and worries, I have also felt less alone reading and connecting with others who also have mental illness on this platform. Recently, I just read Fractured Faith Blog’s post entitled, “Swallow Your Pride. Swallow The Pill.” It made me think about how similar many mental illness patient’s journeys can be. I had actually written a similar post entitled, “Sometimes it Truly is a Bitter Pill to Swallow” just a few months ago. Even though our journeys might not be identical, but the general trajectory may be similar and there might be certain experiences that feel exactly the same. By reading and commenting on each other posts, we can all help each other in our recovery. We feel less alone, find new perspectives, and support each other. Even though social media and the Internet can often be portrayed in a negative light, it can also be a powerful place, and a positive one at that.

So what did I come away with after reading Fractured Faith’s blogpost? I think the one overriding thought I connected to was his discussion about using medication as a crutch. My thoughts about medication have truly evolved over the years. Initially, I couldn’t wait to get off medication. At that time, I thought that if I could get off medication, I would consider myself healed. I guess, it was also my drive for perfection that made me want to quit. This is a character trait that many people with anxiety disorders seem to have to deal with. After several episodes of depression though, I have realized that medication can be crutch, but it can also be a tool to manage my anxiety and depression. Today, I no longer beg my doctor to taper me off my medication. Instead, I understand that it can be a part of my treatment plan which allows me to live a relatively healthy life. If you look up the word “healthy” in a dictionary, it doesn’t only mean physical health, but also mental health. Everyone has the right to attain a healthy life and you should not be ashamed to take medication if it makes you healthier.

9. Vacation Anxiety: How I Deal With It?


I was initially going to write this post before I left on my vacation, but you probably guessed, I got anxious just thinking about this topic. I used to not be able to sleep for days before a trip due to anxiety. I do enjoy travelling, but I hated the anxiety that came with it. My sister and I were talking about how it would be great to just snap our fingers and end up somewhere else in the world. It would be great not to be anxious about forgetting to pack my passport or more important, my anxiety medication. Furthermore, I find sitting for hours on a plane with my own thoughts very anxiety-inducing. I try to distract myself with reading magazines and watching videos, but not being able to walk around freely and do whatever I want felt very restricting. So what has helped me battle travel anxiety?

Plan, But Don’t Over Plan

As someone with anxiety, I tend to over plan many things. For example, if I have an oral presentation, even if it is a few lines, I will practice it hundreds of times. Instead of writing notes, I will also write down every word I will say on an index card, so that I won’t make a mistake. Of course, I think if you are travelling to a new place, it is nice to have a general idea of places you want to go and learn how to roughly use their transportation systems. However, I find if I over plan, I get even more anxious. It makes me feel like I have this schedule that I have to follow and that there isn’t any wriggle room for maybe days I just feel a bit overwhelmed and want to take a break. I find that having a more flexible plan also allows me to condition myself and practice dealing with random and sudden situations during my vacation.

Go With Someone Who Understands Your Mental Illness

Hiding my mental illness is one of the most difficult, if not shameful things, I have had to do over the years. More often than not, there is no choice but to tell someone after a while.  I think this will happen especially during a trip because going to a new place will inevitably elevate a person’s anxiety. It may seem like a crutch to depend on someone who knows how to deal with your anxiety on a trip. However, I just don’t find going on a trip to be the best place to test the limits of how you deal with your anxiety. I would like to think going on a vacation should be a fun experience. I went on this trip with my sister and I felt so much more relaxed because I knew I could tell her when I was having a bit of anxiety and what I needed.

Attempt to Go With the Flow

I know, I know. This is way easier said then done. However, going on a trip is the best time to practice this a little bit. Even if you booked everything and planned out all your travel routes, everyone gets lost on trips and things never quite completely turn out as you planned. I think it is better to go into a trip with the mentality that things will not always go according to plan. Of course, this will not always work. Yet, I find that if I go in expecting uncertainly then when it happens, I find I am more prepared to deal with it. Moreover, it is good to have game plan prepared for dealing with this uncertainty. That way, you can pull it out and run through it when you need to. For me, I usually tell myself to just stop and take a breath and then try to breakdown the options.

What are your tips for travelling with an anxiety disorder?