Post # 1
It’s such a common issue that I’m sure there are at least a handful of bees here who have a spouse or partner who suffers from anxiety. I’d love to hear from you how you support them. I do my best to ensure that our home is a place that is a comfortable and safe place to get away from the stresses of life rather than add to them, and I try to listen, understand and give advice when he is worrying or stressing. But I am concerned that sometimes my good intentions may have the wrong impact – for example, sometimes I think my advice comes off more like me telling him something is wrong with him or invalidating his feelings instead of being supportive, even though that is not at all how I mean them. I try to be cognizant of how I word things in order to avoid that, but at the same time, I sometimes end up getting frustrated when I feel like he is constantly making himself sick with worry over things that don’t warrant that response.
Fortunately, he has finally decided to go seek help – he has his first appointment tomorrow afternoon after work!! In the meantime, I want to do better as a partner and the best way to learn is from experience, so please share yours 🙂
Post # 2
I find it’s best to ask my husband what he needs from me. It’s different depending on what it is he’s feeling anxious about.
In general, I know it helps to keep the apartment clean, if I know he’s having a more stressful time at work I will deep clean the apartment.
Sometimes he likes to go on walks so he can talk out his anxieties. I’ve found it’s better to listen than to give advice. A lot of the times he just needs to talk through things, he doesn’t need me to try to solve it.
He has a prescription for Xanax for when the anxiety gets really bad which has been super helpful. Honestly, for him, just knowing he can take it if he needs it helps a lot.
Post # 3
yeah, his stuff tends to come out when we are either on a walk, driving or in the hot tub. I try my best to listen but I also feel the need to respond sometimes too, like when he is worried about finances I try to remind him that we are doing just fine, or when he worries about getting ready for an up coming camping trip, I remind him that if we forget anything we will survive just fine – it’s not worth sleepless nights worrying about. But am I just invalidating his feelings?? That’s not my intent at all, I just want to help him worry less by trying to put things into perspective.
Post # 4
It’s not so much that it’s invalidating his feelings as it is pointless. I used to do that with my husband as well but the thing is, that yes rationally he knows whatever he is anxious about is probably fine but that does not turn off the anxiety in his head.
The biggest lesson for you to learn is that you cannot fix his anxiety. You can help and be there for him but you can never make it just go away. There’s nothing you can say or do that will make him snap out of the anxiety and say oh yeah I’m not worried now. He needs to learn self-care and develop his own coping mechanisms. That’s why it’s excellent that he’s seeking out help.
Post # 5
“you cannot fix his anxiety”
Thank you. I needed to hear that.
Post # 6
It’s really good that he’s going to a counselor and that you are encouraging him to do so.
I have severe anxiety so having someone listen in itself is really helpful, just nodding or saying ‘im sorry honey’ or offering a back rub helps me from my honey.
Anothing thing that helped my honey was I gave him a couple of articles to read about it so he could see that it truly is a mental thing and not just something you ‘can get over’, (not that you think that), but sometimes understanding the pattern of thinking helps too.
Hopefully in therapy he will be able to learn the tools he needs to dismantle his anxiety and make his symptoms better 🙂
I also find that meditating helps so you could offer to do that with him too.
Good luck Bee!
Post # 7
My guy has PTSD, which is categorized as a type of anxiety disorder, so I’ve definitely learned a thing or two about being in a supportive role!
Granted anxiety symptoms manifest differently in different people, with some experiencing it in a very physical way (palpitations, choking sensations, etc.) while others tend to ruminate obsessively on intrusive thoughts (much like your guy worrying about your finances, etc.) or even some combination of both.
First off, it’s SO good that he not only opens up to you, but also that he’s introspective enough to recognize it’s become an issue worthy of seeking outside help. This is HUGE and half the battle, especially since asking for help can be excruciatingly difficult for men. Counseling in time will provide him with solid coping strategies while also taking some of the pressure off of you to have to shoulder everything. I would encourage this every step of the way!
In the meantime, I would start by trying to identify his “triggers” (stressors) and how they affect him as well as how you can cope with them together. For instance, would he feel more at ease if the house were always decluttered (as much as possible), or if your bank account always stayed at a certain amount? When prepping for an upcoming trip, would he feel better if he wrote out a checklist then packed a couple days ahead of time?
I would also not underestimate the power of a clean diet, regular exercise, and consistent sleep! There are multiple studies indicating that adhering to as healthy a lifestyle as possible is one of the major antidotes to anxiety and depression. I have plenty of literature I can send your way if you’re interested!
The bottom line is to let him know you’re a team and are there to support him, which it sounds like you’re already doing a fantastic job of, so major props to you! And last but certainly never least, please make sure to take really good care of yourself as well. Supporting someone you love, while a no-brainer for many, can be absolutely draining, and you need to first fill your own cup before being able to pour into someone else’s.
Post # 8
- Wedding: June 2021 - Glacier National Park-Montana
I helped him get on medication and it’s helped him so much!
Post # 9
Unfortunately, he doesn’t eat the healthiest diet, but I try my best to make sure that I cook healthy meals most nights so I know that he is at least eating healthy dinners. He also started a new job about a month and a half ago that is a far healthier and more respectful work environment, and I’ve already noticed a big difference in his moods when he gets home. Unfortunately, that job change did come with a significant pay cut, which is now what his anxiety is latching onto. I try to keep the house clean but I think I can do a better job than I have been. Now that summer is coming to a close and life is slowing down again, I will be able to do a better job of that since we spend a lot more time at home in the fall/winter. I like the idea of getting him to use checklists, since I already do that for most things as a way of coping with my ADHD. He never uses them though because he is so good at remembering things anyways (I am not). I’m hoping that therapy will teach him a lot of these little things that he can do to help manage, because honestly I have tried to prod him into trying a lot of these techniques already but maybe hearing it from a neutral third party professional will be more convincing to him that these things help. Generally, when I suggest any kind of coping strategy, it is met with more anxiety – it always feels to him like just one more thing I’m asking to put on his plate or one more thing to worry about.
Thank you for the tips and insight 🙂
Post # 10
- Wedding: November 2018 - City Hall
I have anxiety.
For me what helps: Listening, understanding, just being there for me. It can be tiring for a partner so kudos on him for wanting to get help!
I know my partner often tries to offer solutions for my worries because he of course wants to help me feel better, but it doesn’t help me most times. Truth is, whatever solution he gives I can think of myself and will eventually come to the same conclusion (sometimes over and over until I realize there is nothing more to think about on it).
Anxiety is like waves in an ocean. They always keep coming and you just gotta ride them.
Anxiety can be like trying to hold a balloon underwater. It’s hard to just let it go.
Post # 11
I’m glad he’s getting some help outside of you – it’s always helpful to have multiple people there to help you through anxiety.
As someone who has constant and sometimes serious anxiety, my partner has helped SO much. He has a very good head on his shoulders, and uses LOGIC (in a kind and understanding way) to help me through my emotions (which are often quite illogical). I believe this is also a goal of cognitive behavior therapy – to change the voice in your head from overal emotional to mostly logical. He also just loves and accepts me for how I am, and makes me feel happy and comfortable to always be myself – I know he’ll never leave or give up on me at this rate. So yea, that’s helped. And just growing older, doing yoga helps a lot, mindfully relaxing myself, taking deep breaths.
I just started reading a book that’s been helpful too, called The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself (by Michael A. Singer), which is also about freeing yourself from, well, yourself, your problems, your anxiety. It’s been very insightful thus far and I’m so glad I found it.
Good luck, wish you guys the best!
Post # 12
- Wedding: September 2014 - Jacksonville Inn
I am the spouse with anxiety, so these are the things my wife does that helps me. My wife knows the things that trigger my anxiety, so we both try to avoid putting me in those situations. I know that sounds extreme, but I have a panic disorder and in the past have had severe panic attacks. I am actually doing much better, I have learned to control my anxiety through therapy. I highly recommend working with an experianced therapist. My wife is a fixer, if I’m hurting she wants to make it better. She had to learn to listen to my feelings, without taking the job of fixing me on herself. She can’t fix me, but she can help me. Honestly, just having a spouse who understands how deeply my anxiety effects me, and who does not judge me for that is a huge help.
Post # 13
Stop trying so hard. Stop prodding him over checklists and getting organized. All of those kinds of “helpful” gestures can push his anxiety levels up. If he is feeling the need to get more organized, he knows precisely where to find you.
Let go of the notion that anxiety has to be pegged to some event or situation. People with generalized anxiety suffer (and “suffer” is the right word) from what is known as free-floating anxiety. It’s not anchored to anything external. Though, it can be triggered.
Certainly support your husband for having the courage to start therapy. Is he also being evaluated for meds? Many times, the anxiety shoots up so high that it interferes with the process of therapy.
Some people are just biochemically predisposed to have anxiety issues. That’s why meds can be so helpful. And, we all carry some unreleased trauma from our childhoods. For some, that manifests as anxiety or depression.
The most spot on advice you have been given was from the PP who suggested that you ask him what he needs.
Post # 14
My husband has anxiety and what I do is keep track of what helps him. When an anixety attack is coming on he completely forgets things that might help and doesn’t know what to ask of me so if I’m with him I’ll hand him frankincese essential oil and tell him to smell it, remind him to take deep breathes, give him a stress mint (can be ordered on Swanson’s website), hold his hand and then I assure him he’s okay.
Exercise and eating healthy help manage anxiety as well so I make sure we keep on a good exercise schedule and I buy healthy foods and limit junk food in the house.
Post # 15
notice that when I was talking about a specific stressor I said it is what the anxiety is now latching onto. I am quite aware that the stressor isn’t the source of the issue, but anxiety seeks out something to validate it. That’s the point. That’s why he has decided to see help – he finally realised that all the things he thinks are causing him to feel overwhelmed and anxious all the time are merely symptoms, not causes. It took making some major changes and realizing that the stress is still there for him to fully acknowledge that.
I know I can’t fix it for him, and I try not to prod. But my role as his partner is to support him as best I can and that’s what I am trying to do here.