Being Open about Anxiety for the First Time with Parents: Pt 2

This is the part that is actually about me telling my parents I have anxiety. See part 1 for contextual waffle.

It was in the last couple of days before I was going to be moving back to university for Term 2 (just over a month ago). I was in the back room trying to study but thinking about anxiety (as per) and my parents were watching a film in the other room. I was mulling over the prospect of telling them about it for the umpteenth time and having just about come to the conclusion that I should tell them had got on to thinking about the how. Then I looked at my phone and the grade of my first essay of the year had come through. So I checked that and it turned out I’d got a C which wasn’t like me so I started panicking about the future and my grades and job prospects etc etc… And I felt so over the edge that I wanted to finally get anxiety into the open now without any further ado. But they were happily watching their film so I didn’t, I just sat there hyperventilating and staring at my laptop screen.

Then their film finished and my dad went to bed pretty promptly so my idea seemed to be blown. Mum was in the front room packing up Christmas tree decorations and I really just had to say something, even though this wasn’t the calm let’s-all-sit-down-together-and-I’ll-explain-that-I-have-anxiety-like-a-rational-human-being scenario that I’d intended. I composed myself a bit more and went and asked her some random question about plans for tomorrow just to start a conversation, carefully making sure my voice didn’t wobble. She didn’t look up from her decorations and there was just this awkward moment where I didn’t know how to proceed from there because she evidently thought the convo was done. She looked up like what and then saw I was upset and several minutes of me fighting to keep my composure and being tongue-tied much to her puzzlement ensued.

But I got there in the end. I hadn’t been sure if she even knew what Anxiety was because I get the impression it’s not as well known as other things like depression but it turned out she did have an idea. She reacted pretty calmly and quietly, which I was glad of. If she had got emotional about it I would have been even more of a mess. I made one or two ironic jokes through sniffles and that helped me lighten up the mood a bit so then I managed to get it together and have a rational conversation about it.

I basically explained the how, where, and whens of anxiety: How I’d realised I was anxious, when I’d realised it, when I’d sought out help and what sort of help. Whys were trickier; I explained why I was telling her now and why I hadn’t earlier, but tried my best to divert any guilt she had over that. But I steered clear of my theories about why I developed anxiety because that goes back to childhood stuff and obviously there’s potential for that to make parents feel guilty (it’s not my parents fault, they’re amazing!). It was re-assuring for her to know I’d already taken steps to get help.

This could potentially become quite a long post so I declare a Part 3 to follow!

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