How to Divulge Your Anxiety to Those Important to You
It's important to divulge your anxiety disorder to important people, and in a previous post, I tried to convince whoever I could that disclosing your anxiety was in your best interest. If you are one of those readers and actually took my advice, thank you. Now, you may need some practical tips for how to divulge your anxiety to others – I hope these can help.
Who Do You Divulge Anxiety To?
The first thing to do is figure out who to divulge your anxiety to. This shouldn’t be everyone you know – it isn’t necessarily relevant or helpful to tell every person you encounter. Ideally, these should be people you are exceptionally close to or people who you perhaps need more support from. A good first set of people to focus on include your immediate family (assuming they don’t already know), your significant other, your closest friends, and perhaps your superior at work.
What to Say When You Divulge Your Anxiety Disorder
Disclosure isn’t about simply telling people about your mental illness – it’s about making sure they understand the extent of what that means for your life. As such, you should have some information ready at your disposal. Give whoever you tell a simple, one- or two-sentence summary of the details of your disease, in as basic language as possible. It would also help to supplement that by giving them a story or two from your own life to illustrate how mental illness has impacted you – especially if you have any stories that were witnessed by whoever you’re disclosing to.
Expect people to have a number of questions about your situation after you divulge your anxiety to them. Take this as an opportunity to educate them – if their questions seem insensitive or clueless, give them the benefit of the doubt. It is probable that they may not know a lot about your mental illness, or what constitutes sensitivity in this context. If that’s the case, inform them. They can’t learn if you don’t teach.
It also helps to have a specific list of things that people can do to support you. They will probably ask you this directly – it’s in our nature to offer help in times of vulnerability. Again, what that support looks like will vary from person to person, but it is helpful to have it in mind so as to not be caught off guard. Also note that if you’re choosing to disclose to your boss, as someone with a disability you are entitled to a number of rights, which you should review ("Requesting Workplace Accommodations for Disability").
When to Disclose
Choosing an appropriate time to disclose is also important. Divulging your anxiety to someone is not a simple conversation – it’s heavy for you and often heavier for the other person, who will probably be caught unaware. That being the case, the respectable thing to do would be to schedule a dedicated block of time with that person, so both of you will be able to discuss your disclosure for as long as is necessary. When you schedule that time, make sure you reassure the person that you’re okay – unless it is actually more serious, in which case please let the person know as soon as possible you need help.
Though basic, I hope these tips have made wading into the admittedly terrifying waters of divulging your anxiety to others a little easier to manage. To all those who disclose, good luck. It’s difficult, but you will be thankful you did.
DeSalvo, T. (2019, July 10). How to Divulge Your Anxiety to Those Important to You, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, April 5 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2019/7/how-to-divulge-your-anxiety-to-those-important-to-you