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Anxiety This forum is for seeking advice on anxiety and stress related issues.

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Oighearaois Offline
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Question Anxiety From my Friends' Anxiety - September 29th 2011, 12:22 AM

This thread has been labeled as triggering, particularly on the subject of self harm, by the original poster or by a Moderator. The contents of this thread might therefore not be suitable for certain sensitive users. Please take this into consideration before continuing to read.

My friends know that they can talk to me if somethingís bothering them and I try to help them in any way that I can (which is usually inviting them over and talking and changing their perspective on the situation theyíre in). Iíd listen to my friends Ďventí, say what I could, and then much later, when Iíd think over what they had said, Iíd feel more and more anxious. Knowing that there is something that could be said, words that my mouth could pronounce, that would make them feel happy if only I could find them. I started to fall into the habit of scratching my arm when I became nervous. I never scratched till it bled, but afterwards it really looked like I had. My boyfriend asked about it and I lied about why, saying it had been a bug bite that caused me to scratch. I donít know if he believed that and I felt horrible for lying to him so I told the truth less than a day later. He asked me promise to never to scratch.
Now the reason itís on this thread and not the SH one: I promised I wouldnít scratch, so I wonít. However, the feeling, not of wanting to scratch (that I can easily control) but of the anxiety over my friendsí anxiety, Iím not sure how to handle. It isnít very intense anxiety, but Iím still wondering what I can change with my thinking. I want to be able to have my friends free to talk to me about anything, I want to be able to at least try and help them, but I donít want to feel unnecessarily anxious afterwards either.
Thank you so much for reading this. Any thoughts?


V lɐɯɹou oʇ dn ʎɐʍ sıɥʇ V
   
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Re: Anxiety From my Friends' Anxiety - September 29th 2011, 10:33 PM

I am currently enrolled in a clinical psychology program, and I have worked with various organizations over the years that have allowed me to serve as a "therapist" of sorts. One thing I learned early on is that you are NOT supposed to have all the answers. You may WANT to say the "magic words" that will make everything better, but you never, EVER will have all the answers. You can educate yourself and provide resources to those who are struggling, but ultimately, your job is to offer love and encouragement. You are meant to be a listener, not a problem-solver. Your friends need to solve their own problems, and your role is to give them ideas on how to proceed. It is not your job to "fix" them or their situations. The moment you can accept the limitations of your role, you'll begin to feel less anxious. =)






   
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Re: Anxiety From my Friends' Anxiety - October 3rd 2011, 06:01 PM

I have this same problem, and what I've started to do is after talking to my friend, I put on some music, close my eyes, and breathe as deeply as I can for just a few minutes while keeping my mind blank. This sort of make a barrier between me-the-listener-to-anxiety and me-the-person-with-her-own-problems, so that I don't have to carry my friend's problems into my everyday life. I repeat as often as needed when anxious "You should have done better" thoughts get invasive. If I can't shake it, I try to turn it into a constructive action, like sending a friend a random email hug.
And the other thing is that, as someone who frequently has to vent to friends, I'll remind you that most of the time I'm not looking for a perfect solution. I know that there's no perfect solution and no matter how much you want to you can't say the words to make everything better (because there are no words). What most people need isn't a magic fix-it button but a friend who cares, which you obviously are. You're doing all you can, and even if you can't make everything perfect you're helping a whole lot. So remind yourself of that when you need to.

I hope you're successful in stopping scratching- do you have something less harmful you could do instead? (Knitting, coloring, etc)
   
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Re: Anxiety From my Friends' Anxiety - October 6th 2011, 12:11 AM

PSY: Thank you. It's nice to hear that I'm NOT suposed to have all the solutions.
Nora: Over 50 views and just 2 responces so thank you for responding! I'll try to get my mind clear after I listen to my friends, I had been dwelling on their problems trying to think of a solution that I hadn't thought of earlier but that's only going to make things worse. I haven't scratched my skin since I promised (though I've been tempted) but I did scratch a whole on my notebook's cover. I've been trying to write down what's going on through different peoples perspectives and it does seem to help, but it takes a while to calm me down.


V lɐɯɹou oʇ dn ʎɐʍ sıɥʇ V

Last edited by Oighearaois; October 6th 2011 at 12:20 AM.
   
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