How do you explain anxiety to normie?

I went for a walk today with my in laws dog. When I got back my heart was beating really fast but not from the exercise but the anxiety. My mother in law thinks its just an excuse she said she just doesn’t get it. My partner gets anxiety, everyone else is just telling her i’m making excuses to not go outside. She understands that I have to have another person there just for reassurance that no one is following me.

I don’t think it’s possible to make non-empathetic people understand without treating them in an unethical way to “make” them understand. So I think it’s one of those things where it’s best to just accept the reality that they can’t, and then figure out how to handle it.


you’re probably right, but its just so frustrating

Yeah it is. The way I automatically coped with it growing up was to just see them as really stupid. It was easier than seeing them as evil. But it also made me a bit narcissistic. Sucks.

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I try explaining it like this: have you ever had a dream where you wake up in a dark room and you can feel there is something or someone in the room with you. You try to turn on the light but the switch won’t work. You keep trying but nothing happens and all the time you know there is something in there somewhere. That panic in the dream is anxiety.

Sometimes it helps.


There must be something she fears or hates doing. Everyone has something. Tell her to think of that thing, and having to do it a lot every day. How would that make her feel? Or, maybe she could imagine being in the middle of a room surrounded by crowds of people who are all staring at her, jeering and laughing at her. How would that make her feel? I have to skip running even important errands sometimes because I can’t bear the thought of going to a public place. Taking walks is torture sometimes, especially if I have to cross a street. It’s a level of discomfort over every day activities that most people only feel in extreme situations. If she could imagine an extreme situation and how it makes her feel, then maybe she could start to understand.

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Her worst fear is driving at night or cleaning their toilet after her husband makes stains in it (no joke)

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My husband cleans up after himself, thank goodness! :grin: Well then she can know how it feels. I assume you wouldn’t scoff at those fears of hers, and she needs to be understanding when it comes to what makes you anxious. Same feelings, different circumstances…

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I talk about getting stressed out by doing things. Then my brother says 'Stressed! " and names all the things he’s done in a day that pile stress on him. But. But. I try to explain that I begin with a base line of stress. It’s my original condition. It’s different. He sort of understands. But then he says - But don’t you understand that people get mad when they see you lying on the bed while they are vaccuming the rug??? Yes, I understand that. But I’m doing what I can do . And all that noise of the vaccuum cleaner is driving me up the wall.

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Tell them it’s a vague, undefined fear of something happening in the future. You shouldn’t try to explain feelings. They just are.

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