4db01f582ae0b87300214b096aace2f0I know you can’t resist her strength. She seems to take on the world with her small hands and big ideas in her head. Her struggle makes her both complicated and mysterious. That confidence determination is uber sexy, I know.

But don’t date a girl with anxiety disorder. Because sooner or later, that confidence will begin to dwindle.

The cold reality of life’s stresses, the sudden onset of a panic attack will turn your lover into a paranoid mess.

Don’t fall in love with a guy who has depression. His sensitivity and eagerness to be vulnerable with you will of course draw you in. You will blab to your friends how emotionally tuned in your man is. He will open up to you and let you into the dark corners of his soul. He will reveal to you things he wouldn’t dare tell his own sister. You will have the rare privilege of seeing him at his best and at his worst.

But after a while, with the strains and pressures of life, that “privilege” of being your boyfriend’s ‘go-to’ when he is struggling with a bout of depression will soon become a burden. And you will resent him.

As someone who struggles with anxiety, I can tell you that mental health disorders, like any health disorder whether that be a physical disease or bi-polar disorder, can negatively impact family members and loved ones of someone struggling with a mental health disorder. While my caveat serves as a reminder to all that loving someone with anxiety or depression is not for the faint of heart, I hope that it challenges you to understand that people who suffer from these disorders need a real support system. Family members are one aspect of that support however they cannot become the sole provider of support, as this can result in a situation like the ones mentioned above: family members will feel burdened down and weighed down.

If you are a family member of a loved one who struggles with anxiety disorder, you may struggle to find the words to say or the endurance to get through another day. I have listed 5 tips of things I think you should consider. Above all else, try not to conflate your loved one with their disorder. Their disorder is not who they are, it is merely something they struggle with.

  1. De-compartmentalise your loved one from their anxiety disorder

Remember when you first met your girlfriend? She was so high on life, passionate about every little small thing. Her enthusiasm for life was contagious. She is still that girl. Remind her of that – she may have forgotten.

  1. Be patient and be merciful

I know it’s not easy for him to tell you he doesn’t feel loved by you. I know it’s frustrating to hear that he feels like no one cares. Don’t take it personally. It may have nothing to do with you. It may have everything to do with you. Be patient with him. You getting frustrated and defensive will only make things worse for him and most likely result in a shutdown of communication between the two of you.

  1. Mental health disorders are no different than physical disorders

You wouldn’t get mad at your boyfriend if he expressed pain and frustration over a broken leg would you? Remember that just because you can’t see his depression doesn’t mean he’s not struggling. There is a very real stigma in our society about mental health, and without realising it you are probably buying into it. If you find yourself get short-tempered or upset with your boyfriend over his depression, chances are you’re letting that stigma influence you without even knowing it.

  1. Avoid the ‘B’ word

Never ever ever under any circumstances utter the dreaded ‘B’ word when you find yourself feeling weighed down by your girlfriend’s anxiety. Don’t tell her that she’s a burden. Chances are, her condition will impact you in a negative way at some point in your relationship. Unfortunately, one of the bi-products of being in a relationship is that you are exposed to all the dirty dishes of someone’s personal life. You will end up fighting their inner demons. You might even have to carry the load for them at times. But informing them about the weight load is probably unwise and may even prove detrimental to your relationship.  The last thing she need is someone telling her something she already knows. She already knows this is heavy stuff. It’s why she debated with herself about telling you in the first place. She felt safe with you that she could divulge the most inner secrets of her heart. Don’t turn around and tell her how heavy her baggage is. Instead, help her unpack.