This is Taboo Topic Tuesday, a weekly series that tackles a “taboo” subject and gives tips on how to talk about it with your vinas (sans judgement). Have an idea for a topic? Tweet us @ilikevina using the hashtag #TalkingTaboos and we’ll get talkin’!
Having an anxiety disorder is never easy. One of the hardest things about it can be talking to other people about your illness. Talking about it – or even thinking about talking about it – can be just another source of anxiety. It’s a vicious cycle. However, part of being vulnerable with your vinas is being open and honest, even about mental illness.
When I first told one of my vinas that I often struggle with anxiety, it was over text. The conversation was flowing, and I was really feeling like I could trust her. Of course, I was nervous for how she would respond, but I let out a major sigh of relief when her response was a compassionate one. Not only was she both sympathetic and understanding, she admitted to her own struggles with anxiety. We started swapping our anxiety horror stories and bonded over our experiences.
There is so much misunderstanding about mental illness due to its social stigma.
If you’re talking about it with someone who has never experienced bad anxiety, it can be hard to know where to begin. Confiding in someone with your diagnosis can help your vinas better understand what you’re going through. Here are some tips for women struggling with an anxiety disorder and for the vinas who support them:
1. Both should remember that anxiety is a mental illness and is never personal. Having anxiety is neither your fault, nor the fault of your vinas, family members, or significant other.
2. Talking about any type of mental illness requires complete openness and a non-judgmental approach. Be open to learning and know that it’s okay if you can’t sympathize. On the other side, remember it’s okay if you can’t explain your anxiety perfectly.
3. Be patient. For those with anxiety and those without, patience and understanding when discussing mental illness is key. Try not to become frustrated if it’s hard to talk about and be supportive of each other.
4. Anxiety cannot be automatically turned off. It may hit when you or your vina is least expecting it. Learn how to help your vina by asking her when she isn’t feeling anxious what will help in that moment. For vinas with anxiety, be communicative about your needs when you can be.
Remember, being honest is the most important thing in any friendship. When talking about mental illness, being open and non-judgmental will make the conversation much smoother. Do you or your vinas struggle with anxiety? Let us know how you deal in the comments below. Also, if you have an idea for another Taboo Topic Tuesday, tweet @ilikevina using the hashtag #TalkingTaboos and let us know!
(Feature illustration by Bing Nguyen)