At the beginning of my relationship, I experienced panic attacks almost daily. The strongest ones occurred on the weekends when I wasn’t distracted with work and weekday routine. Weekends were also filled with date nights, since we both worked on the weekdays. I hated hiding the fact that my panic attacks made it difficult to go out, but I had hope that the anxiety wouldn’t become a stressor in our relationship and I felt like telling him the truth was a major risk.
I was falling for him and talking about my anxiety came with the possibility of losing him.
During the first few months, we fought A LOT, to the point that we had contemplated on breaking up over and over again. Unfortunately, it took me a while to realize that my anxiety was the cause of these fights so The topic never came up.
My realization came on one particular Friday night when I cancelled date night because I wasn’t “feeling well”.
I was getting dressed for dinner when a panic attack suddenly hit me. It lasted a few hours and I was not in the proper mindset to go out. My eyes swelled up, my head ached, and the last thing I wanted was for him to ask, “what’s wrong?”.
Plans were officially canceled that night and he was not happy about it. He knew that “not feeling well” was a BS excuse because I had used it before. He said he knew I was hiding something from him and he was finally losing his patience.
Once he sent his last angry text that night, I got into bedfeeling guilty and pathetic for repeatedly making excuses.
This was my last chance to tell him the truth.
It was late at night when I finally felt the courage to talk him. I knew he would be sleeping so I sent him an email. It would have been best to speak with him in person, but I needed to do something to put my mind at ease for the night. The email also included a link to an articlethat provided an explanation of anxiety from a doctor. I figured that a doctor would be best at explaining anxiety during a moment when I felt too emotional to think straight. Here’s what I sent:
His response was all that I needed. The heart was his simple way of saying that he loves me no matter what and that he knew about my anxiety.
He was just waiting for me to open up and be honest with him.
It’s been a little over a year since that night and we still argue here and there, like any normal couple would. Only now, we are more mindful of each other’s thoughts and feelings during upsetting situations. Best of all, he’s made an effort to learn more about mental health and has become my biggest supporter.
He pushes me to fight my fears, holds my hand during panic attacks, motivates me to write, and encourages me to not run away from my therapy sessions.
Our two year anniversary recently passed and we decided to reflect on what we have learned about each other and relationships.
I shared that I learned about the importance of communication and to be more mindful when we fight.
As the one with anxiety, it’s important that I understand that he won’t always understand and that’s ok!
As for my boyfriend, he has learned to be more calm, patient, and understanding.
Although this is his first time being in a relationship with someone who has anxiety, he believes that this is the strongest relationship he has ever been in.
Even though people believe that anxiety only weakens relationships, I view that notion as a misconception.
Speaking from experience, dealing with anxiety in a relationship provides the opportunity to understand and love your partner more deeply.
All that is needed is honesty, communication and patience.