One of the first things that you experience when you discover that you are suffering from an anxiety disorder is punishment. Yes, it’s true – Just think about it for a moment. If you’re younger and still living under your parents household and rules, then you have probably had your fair share of arguments pertaining to you not wanting to do something due to your panic attacks, such as family get-togethers, shopping, chores etc. If you’re older and living under your own rules, you probably experience punishment from others within your social circle or workplace as you may not be as committed to things as others, or won’t do certain tasks because of your fears.
Ever since the mere age of 7, I have been punished for my panic attacks.
Since an anxiety disorder is stemmed from fear, being punished for not doing certain things is actually only feeding into your panic attacks. Now, you can’t blame your parents for this because the trick is to face your anxiety and to not run away from it, and by punishing you, they see it as pushing you towards that and away from the dark, dark hole that anxiety can be. However, it is certainly the wrong approach.
(You can only hate your parents for punishing you for experiencing anxiety if they know that they’re actually making it 1000 times worse for you – So, get them to read this before you blame everything on them).
Let’s take my anxiety disorder as an example. It initially started with eating – eating around people, specifically in restaurants. Naturally, I tried to avoid restaurants as much as I could. This meant skipping out on family dinners, birthdays and many other occasions in which the average person would enjoy. The more I skipped, the more people grew frustrated with me, or upset at me – and it showed. As a result, I was now anxious about bailing and upsetting those I love.
My options were; go and have the world’s worst experience of anxiety, or don’t go and deal with people being mad at me.
… And so the cycle begins.
For the times that I did actually put on my brave face and go to a restaurant (I was actually probably forced – again, my parents thinking it was a positive approach to dealing with anxiety), I felt sick or had to run out in an anxious rampage and almost always received the,
“Ugh. Again, Chantal?”
“C’mon. Are you serious?”
“You better eat your entire meal!”
And if I didn’t? You bet! I was scolded.
However, it is important for you to realize that your parents don’t necessarily know what is going on. Don’t resent them for this! They are simply doing what they know and are trying to push you away from becoming even more anxious. Unfortunately, pushing you does the opposite. Punishing you does even worse damage.
So, if you find that you are being punished or scolded for not being the ideal human being in a situation that causes you anxiety, speak up. Let your parents know that they are only furthering your fear because on top of dealing with your own internal thoughts of worry, you now have an additional level of anxiety because you’re anxious about being scolded or disappointing your family.
This should be enough for them to flip a switch in the way that they help you deal with your situation.
Support, encouragement, and patience goes a long way.
Let them know that.
My family is totally going to feel like this anxiety disorder article attacks them, but it doesn’t because they didn’t know what they were actually doing to me as I was a little girl dealing with anxiety. The same can be said for your parents. They may not know that what they’re doing is actually furthering your panic attacks.
Share this blog post with them, and allow them to see your side of the battle, and take the time to read some guides on dealing with anxiety, such as Kiss Anxiety Goodbye.