A parenting blogger has shared an emotional letter addressing every man who is supporting a woman with anxiety.
Laura Mazza, who has anxiety herself, provided an insight into how men could better support a partner with the mental illness, by being patient and helping out when needed.
In the letter, Mazza, who is married with two children, described anxiety as “heartbreaking” and added that many sufferers wish they could “just feel free” and no longer be a prisoner to their thoughts.
After pouring her heart out on social media and sharing her experiences of the condition, Mazza thanked everyone who had responded to the post adding that it made her feel less alone.
In the letter, which opened “to the man whose wife or partner has anxiety”, Mazza explained that there are a number of things men should know about supporting their partner through tough times.
“Anxiety isn’t a one size fits all, it isn’t consistent and it isn’t always easy to tell,” she wrote. “You might think she just snapped at you, but it was anxiety that did it, you might think she’s angry, but it’s the anxiety that’s got a choke hold, you might think she’s not enjoying herself when you go out and it’s your fault, but it’s not. It’s anxiety.”
She likened anxiety to a “freight train in her head, full steam ahead, over and over” which can be exhausting.
“There isn’t a day that goes by where she doesn’t think,” Mazza continued. “She thinks about everything, and usually it is the worst case scenario. She worries that something will go wrong. That some days if she leaves the house, something will happen. Kidnapping, deaths, falls, cars spinning out of control, that’s why she can’t just leave the house or just go out, even though you’ve suggested it with good intentions. But it’s not so easy.”
Mazza asked men to really see their partners and understand the things that could become too much for them, whether that’s crowds of people or organising dinner.
“Help her by holding her hand and tell her you’re with her. Do it with her, take over, tell her to sit down for a while and breathe,” she wrote.
“If you see her struggling with appointments, reschedule them for her, encourage her to take it slowly. Too much is overwhelming for her, even though she has good intentions. Don’t make her feel bad for missing an appointment, a party, whatever. She wanted to go, but she couldn’t. She already feels bad. Tell her it’s okay.”
Mazza acknowledged that sometimes the answer won’t be obvious, and sometimes nobody will know what the answer is, but patience is key.
“She doesn’t want her anxiety to define your relationship and when you’re patient, you’re telling her you’re willing to do the same,” she added.
Her post was shared tens of thousands of times, with many commenting on how she had coherently conveyed their feelings. “Holy hell. How have you organised all my jumbled thoughts and put them into something understandable?” one commenter wrote.
Later, Mazza took the opportunity to thank those who had commented. She also addressed men who are experiencing anxiety.
“I don’t doubt the struggles you face every day,” she wrote in a separate Facebook post. “I’m in awe of a man who is brave enough to admit he has anxiety especially when society always speaks out against men having a mental illness. It’s definitely not a weakness, and really we are in the same boat.
“You are worthy in all of this, all of you are. Men and women, single, married, childless. You matter.”
Useful websites and helplines:
- Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
- Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
- Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: email@example.com