“Breaking Expectations” is staff writer Danielle Allsop’s firsthand experience with living with mental
I haven’t been the best friend that I can be lately. Having anxiety or any type of chronic ailment makes it very difficult to drop everything and focus on someone else’s needs.
One of my good friends was recently dumped, right before Valentines Day. On that particular day, I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t get my anxiety under control. It was physically painful in an unexplainable way, one that I had never felt before.
It killed me to know that she needed me, but I knew that I couldn’t even help myself, let alone her.
I wanted so badly to comfort her and run over and tell the guy off, to bring over Ben and Jerry’s and watch Rom-Com’s all night. But I couldn’t.
Whenever I find myself in situations like these, my response is to always beat myself up, tell myself I’m not a good friend, essentially punish myself for something I cannot control.
I tend to make up for these “faults” by overindulging in materialistic things: buying dinner the next time we’re out, bringing a bag full of their favorite things, in the hopes that it somehow makes up for my physical absence.
It is difficult to break habits, and I have in no way broken this one, but for the first time, I realized that I had to take care of myself before I can take care of others.
If you find yourself in these situations, I would recommend first making sure YOU are taken care of before anyone else. YOU are all that matters.
If you’re unable to comfort them, let them know. Don’t ignore their situation. Acknowledge their pain and promise to be there when you can. If they’re a true friend, they’ll understand.
When you’re ready, have empathy for your friend and recognize that they are going through their own ordeal, no matter how small it may seem. Give it the attention you can give it, then move on.
Not everyone understands what it’s like to have anxiety, and that’s OK. But the friends who don’t penalize you for something that is out of your control are friends worth keeping.