With Anxiety In Tow-Dedicated to Interviewing the World's Foremost Experts In Anxiety Management

Your “Safe Friends” List-Who Not to Talk to About Anxiety (Part One)

We’ve all been there.

You open up to a friend hoping for empathy and support. However, you quickly learn that your friend is going to give you anything BUT what you need.  As a result, you’re frustrated and disappointed.

Now add our struggles with anxiety to the mix. Makes you think, right?

Talking to busy friends about daily struggles can be challenging. But adding chats about anxiety can make for an anxiety-provoking situation itself. In short, it’s the icing on the cake in the way of the many communications complications that some of us already face.

Now you all know that I think that stereotyping is no-no. However, I’m going to give you the go ahead to do a little bit of this today.  Even I deviate from the rules of anxiety management in certain situations.

If you’re ready to open up (the key words here being IF YOU’RE READY), you’ve got to know which friends are “safe.”  Yes, you may feel a flood of emotion when panic and restlessness strike. But not every friend is going to understand you (or me for the record).  And talking to friends who don’t understand makes anxiety worse in the long run.

In truth, figuring out which friends are safe to open up to is a bit like playing Blackjack. You can stack your aces, but you don’t really know which card your friend is holding until you lay it on the line. That said, you can employ a little strategy.

The easiest way to do this is with a slow reveal. This keeps you protected while you test the waters. It’s your best bet if you’re anxious about talking to people about anxiety in general.

So how do  you do this?

When I began my “coming out” process, I danced around the topic of anxiety before revealing it full force. On long days full of work deadlines and other strenuous obligations, I would talk about the situation at hand- and then refer to anxiety lightly. This opened the door to further conversations…or unexpectedly slammed it shut.

The thing is that what I found was surprising. The one close friend that I thought wouldn’t understand revealed to me that she herself struggles with anxiety. This was a shocker. (Let me tell you-this woman is a tough cookie. She hides it like you wouldn’t believe.)

The other thing that I found was that friends that I thought would “get it” didn’t. In fact, they redirected the conversation during my slow reveal. This was a huge red flag that certain friends shouldn’t be on my “safe” list. And it was rather heart breaking in some respects.

So really, you’ve got to be ready for surprises. Yes, some people come out in the darnedest of ways.  They lay it all on the line. And I have begun doing this recently. However, this series is for those of you who are new to revealing your anxiety struggles in general.

In closing the first portion of this three-part series, I want you to make a mental list of friends that you want to test the waters with. Maybe don’t write it down unless you live alone. After all, you just never know who will find your paper trail.

Next, we’re going to talk about how you can stereotype your slow reveal. And remember that stereotyping yourself is a no-no. Tune in to part two to learn more about how to create your “safe” friends list.

-Anxiety Girl


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