I love Facebook, I like to keep in contact with everyone and see what people are up to. However, for me the winter months and Facebook cause me extreme anxiety. You see, during flu season, many people update their status to let you know they spent the night throwing up or their kid has step throat. I am deathly afraid of germs, and particularly afraid of the stomach flu. Just hearing about the stomach flu sends me into a full panic attack. The other night, a few people on Facebook all updated their statuses as having the flu and I was so scared I had to take some anti-anxiety medication.
I know it may sound weird to those of you who do not have an anxiety disorder, but panic over things you think are no big deal are what people like me have to deal with every day. It is a debilitating anxiety which gets in the way of your life and your ability to function. It drains all your energy to have to live like this and it is a constant battle to figure out how to live your life in the midst of extreme fear 24/7.
What is most helpful to people with anxiety is not when people argue with us that our fears are unfounded or silly, but when people are compassionate about what we are going through. When you provide a listening ear, help us calm our mind, or help us focus our attention on something else. Or if we are so anxious as to be unfunctional, if you let us distance ourselves from the situation for a while so we can practice some relaxation techniques and try to sort out fear from reality. And lastly, a hug always works.