Anxiety disorders are complicated. There’s no easy fix to feeling anxious and it’s hard for people who don’t understand anxiety to comprehend why it can be so debilitating. Because these people don’t really know how to react when someone is anxious, they can end up saying some really hurtful things. The last thing that you want to hear from someone is to “just get over it.” Ugh! Gut-wrenching!
Statements like this often come from well-meaning friends and family who don’t totally understand what anxiety feels like and what it is. It’s not as simple as “putting it out of our mind” or “calming down.” If it was, we wouldn’t have anxiety!
Having someone say “just stop worrying” invalidates so many emotions that a person has while experiencing anxiety. It’s not something that people can easily get over because it’s a physiological response to stress.
Anxiety is a chemical thing and it affects the wholeeee brain. There’s a reason that many people feel better when they’re on anti-anxiety medications. That’s because the meds help balance out the brain’s chemicals and bring them to a state of equilibrium.
Opening up about anxiety disorders isn’t easy! It’s a really vulnerable and raw part of ourselves that a lot of us try and push away. Crying in front of someone is hard enough, but having anxiety or a panic attack can feel like you’re bearing your soul to another person.
When you share your anxiety with someone, this means that you have an immense amount of trust in this person. But when this person says to “just get over it” it feels like your emotions don’t count or aren’t worthy of being experienced.
8 Ways to Respond to ‘Just Get Over It’
Dismissing someone’s experience also reinforces the idea that the mental health issues they’re facing aren’t worthy of being treated with therapy or medication. If you can just “get over it,” then it’s not thaaaat bad, right?
That’s absolute crap! You should be able to feel however you need to feel in order to dive thru what you’re going thru. Your emotions ARE valid and your anxiety isn’t something to be discounted.
We’re going to help you out by giving you a few things to say when someone invalidates your anxiety. Hopefully, these phrases can help you combat any future crap anyone says to you.
1. “Please don’t say that. I really need your support right now.”
This shifts the focus back onto the person that has just told you to get over it. By asking for their help, it will hopefully get them to spring into action and support you how you need to be supported.
Asking for their help will let them see that you’re going through something that you can’t always handle on your own and that you trust this other person enough to assist you in a really vulnerable moment.
2. “Anxiety is something I can’t control. Saying things like that really hurts.”
People might not know or understand that you can’t control your anxiety. Remind them of this!
Also, communicating how their words impacted you will hopefully help them realize that words hurt. They might think that what they say isn’t that big of a deal, but it is to you. Hold them accountable in a kind way to help them realize that you need love and support when it comes to your anxiety — not criticism.
3. “My mental health deserves to be treated with as much respect as my physical health.”
Mental health is just as important as physical health! This can be a hard concept to convey to some people because not everyone sees it that way.
Saying this phrase will hopefully remind the person you’re speaking with that you consider your mental health to matter as much as your physical health. They might not, but you do, and that should be respected by them.
4. “You can’t see what I’m dealing with inside my head.”
They won’t know your experiences because they can’t feel what you do. Mental health is considered to be an invisible struggle because you can’t see how someone feels. Remind this person that they really have no idea what you’re going through, and just because they can’t see it doesn’t mean that it’s not real.
5. “Science proves that anxiety is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.”
If none of these phrases have worked, hit ‘em with the facts! It’s been proven time and time again that anxiety is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. There’s nothing that you can do about it. Your brain is just trying its best.
6. “Instead of saying things like that, I’d prefer that you ask how you can support me.”
Correct them! It’s like training an animal. Instead of allowing negative behaviour to continue, correct them with what you want them to say instead.
This also gives them a literal script for what to say to you the next time that you need help with your anxiety. Keep reminding them of this and reinforcing that instead of telling you that your anxiety isn’t “that bad,” they can ask you how you need to be supported instead.
7. “Please try to understand what I’m going through. It’s extremely hard for me to manage sometimes.”
This statement is useful because it directly asks the other person to have more compassion for your situation. The downside to asking this is that the person you’re speaking to might not see anxiety as something to be compassionate about.
However, that’s their problem to bear and not yours.
8. Describe how you feel.
This might be hard for you to do because it can be painful to vocalize what you’re feeling inside. But if all else fails and you feel like the person you’re speaking with STILL doesn’t get it, tell them how you feel.
Maybe after describing your emotional state, they’ll become more empathetic and compassionate to your situation. Showing them the truest form of your mental state might be the only thing that gets them to understand and send a little bit more love your way.
When someone doesn’t accept your mental health struggles or show understanding and compassion, it can hurt soooo badly. The best thing that you can do at this point is to try to accept that they won’t be able to meet your emotional needs.
Maybe this is because they don’t have any problems that affect their mental health or they were raised in a way where mental wellness wasn’t a priority. Either way, try to remember that your emotions, feelings, and anxieties are valid and that you’re worthy of seeking treatment and help.
No one should tell you that your feelings aren’t real, and we are so sorry that happened to you. Stay strong, believe in yourself, and reach out to people who you know will support you. You’ve got this!