l’ve had severe anxiety for as long as I can remember. It used to manifest as various phobias such as needles and test taking when I was younger. However, in high school was when I really began to fully acknowledge and seek help for it. I could tell the intense feelings of dread and panic I felt when in social situations and even sometimes in daily life were not normal.

Over these past four years of college my anxiety has ebbed and flowed depending on my environment. I don’t handle change very well. I have had some of my biggest emotional highs and lows in college. During my sophomore year of college was when I discovered I suffer from depression as well. 

My anxiety often causes my mind to race with intrusive thoughts. I am constantly worried that people dislike me. That people are looking at me or judging me. I have real trouble seeing myself in a positive light and building up a sense of self confidence.

The truth is that the way I perceive myself is warped and shrouded with negativity. My self esteem is depleted and often dependent on my academic and career-related success. 

Anxiety in my romantic life:

Prior to being in a relationship, I found managing my anxiety slightly easier. It is not as if dating my boyfriend has exacerbated my anxiety. However, I do find it difficult to have to share my anxious thoughts with someone else and really let him in. It’s a vulnerable feeling to let someone see your insecurities and past trauma.

Accepting help from others has never been my strong suit. I like to handle my problems on my own and am terrified of burdening people unintentionally. Below are a few of the ways my mental health has impacted my relationship because let’s face it, dating with anxiety can be tough. 

I have a hard time believing my boyfriend when he tells me he loves me and that he thinks I am beautiful.

A huge side effect of my anxiety can be insecurity and a lack of self worth. Because I have a warped perception of myself, I need a lot of reassurance from others. Sometimes I need people to affirm me multiple times for me to really accept the compliment and let it sink in.  

I jump to conclusions.

Due to my intrusive thoughts, I am kind of the CEO of taking things the wrong way. Since my mind is often racing, I often make assumptions about how people feel about me that are not founded in fact. In order to combat these false thoughts, I try to be hyper aware of them.

Whenever my mind goes to assume that someone hates me because they aren’t texting me back or something of that nature, I balance out the intrusive thought with a realistic explanation. For example, if someone isn’t texting me back, maybe they are just busy with work. 

I can be needy. 

As much as I dislike that word, at times it can be accurate in describing my behavior. When I am particularly panicked, I often need comfort from people around me. My favorite ways for my boyfriend to comfort me when my anxiety is high is by holding me or distracting me.

This sometimes means making food together or watching TV. Regardless, spending quality time together tends to take my focus off of living in my own head and shift it to whatever the activity we are doing. 

I sometimes breakdown randomly and cannot fully articulate what I feel or why I feel that way.

Generalized anxiety is difficult because sometimes there are triggers for your panic, but sometimes there is nothing tangible that is wrong. Being unable to explain your distress to a partner can be super frustrating. I approach this issue by being honest about my confusion about where the anxiety is coming from.

Your partner is normally only trying to help when they ask what’s wrong. So, being transparent and asking for what you need in the moment is the best thing you can do to remedy the situation. 

Overall, anxiety and mental health issues in general can be a strain on a relationship. However, mental health should also not be the reason you hold back from loving someone and letting them into your life.

If you focus on being open and allowing your partner to be there for you when you’re struggling, you’d be surprised how positive the outcome can be.

Sharing your mental health struggles if done mindfully can deepen your emotional connection to and understanding of one another.

As long as you are mindful of how your struggles impact your partner and you ensure you’re not leaning on them to heavily for your own happiness, you should feel free to share your mental health experiences.

You’d be surprised how well people can be there for you if you just let them.    

  • Maggie Mahoney

    Maggie Mahoney is an editorial fellow based in Washington D.C. She is a soon to be graduating senior at American University studying Literature with a minor in Communications. Maggie is passionate about poetry, elementary education, blogging, and R&B music. She loves to cook and try new cuisines and considers herself a textbook Virgo.