Feeling anxiety is hard enough without having to talk about it. Sometimes, talking about anxiety can even make you feel more anxious! How is that fair? It’s not, but the truth is that sharing your struggles with someone you trust may be one of the best steps forward on a path toward finding freedom from your anxiety problems. But who should you talk to? Who is close to you, wants to help you, and has the power to get you the help you need? For a lot of our readers, the answer to this question is: your parents.
Whether you want to talk to your parents about your anxiety or not, sharing what you’re going through with them is usually a good idea. Though we don’t always feel this way (or believe it), our parents (usually) love us and want the best for us. Talking to them about your problem could be a source of much needed support. It may also be necessary for you to get access to certain resources. For example, if you are in high school or college, which means you may not yet be 18 years old, you may not be able to see a doctor without the consent of your parents or their insurance. If, however, you have such a poor relationship with your parents or legal guardians that you feel it would be dangerous or detrimental to your mental health to discuss the topic of anxiety with them, there are other people you can talk to. Reach out to TheHopeLine today for connection to resources that can help you.
How to Bring Up Anxiety With Your Parents
Once you’ve decided to talk to someone about your anxiety, whether it’s your parents or not, how are you going to broach the subject? It’s not exactly one of those topics you can just bring up mid-grocery shop… or maybe it is! Only you can sense how your parents are going to react when you bring up the subject of your mental health, so take a look at a few ways you could start the conversation, based on how open you think they’ll be.
- “You know how you’ve talked about your mental health before? Can I talk to you about mine? I’ve been feeling anxious a lot, more than I think is normal.”
- “We’ve never really talked about this before, but you seemed to understand when [family/friend/acquaintance] went through some struggles with her mental health… Do you think you could listen to me talk about my anxiety for a minute? It’s gotten bad enough that I need you to hear me out.”
- “I know you don’t believe in a lot of these mental health disorders. I’ve heard you say things that make me feel like I can’t talk to you about this, but I really need to have a conversation with you about anxiety. I’m not doing great, and I need your help fixing it.”
Choose a moment when you can be alone with your parents to minimize distractions and make it clear to them that this is going to be an important conversation. If they react well, you can proceed with the conversation right then and there! It’s also okay to ask them to set up a later time you can meet with them if you or they need to prepare mentally and emotionally for the subject. Once you’ve done this part, congratulations! Bringing it up is often the hardest part of these conversations, and you’ve shown bravery and self-esteem by doing this. Don’t forget to take a moment to be proud of yourself.
How to Address Your Parents Questions
Once you tell your parents you have been struggling with anxiety, it’s likely that they’re going to have some questions. That’s fair! Recognize that it’s a big deal to find out that your child is struggling, so your parents might have to process some emotions too. They might feel guilty, angry, sad, scared, etc. The important thing is to make sure you separate their emotions from yours in this moment and remember that their feelings about your anxiety are not your responsibility. If they need some time to calm down before your conversation can proceed, try saying something like this:
- “I understand this might be scary to hear, but I need your help, not your panic. Can you let me know when you’re ready to talk about this?”
- “I can’t help that this is the way I’m feeling. I’m sorry that it makes you feel ___, but the reality remains the same: I’m struggling with anxiety. Your reaction to this is one of the reasons I’ve waited so long to talk about it with you. I really need your support right now, so when you’re ready to help me, let’s talk.”
- “I’m scared too. I need my Mom/Dad right now, not more fear. Please tell me you can help me figure this out.”
When your parents are ready to talk, their questions are going to include everything from the first time you realized you might have anxiety to the most recent episode that led you to discuss the matter with them. Be as specific as you can when you describe your experience to them. If you’ve had anxiety or panic attacks, tell them, especially if they may have unknowingly witnessed one. If you know some of your triggers and stressors, talk about those too. Honesty and detail are really helpful in these discussions because the more clear a picture you can give them, the more they’ll be able to understand your predicament. If, however, their questions become aggressive, accusatory, or non-supportive, you are allowed to stop answering them. Try bringing the conversation back to a productive place by saying something like this:
- “I feel like you’re interrogating me instead of trying to help me. Can you ease up on me a bit?”
- “I know this isn’t exactly a fun topic, but the volume and tone of your voice are making this worse. I haven’t done anything wrong. In fact, I’ve come to you for help. Can you please be more kind right now?”
- “I’m getting tired, and I think we could use a break. Can we talk more about this later when we’re both more rested and rational?”
Again, congratulations. You should be very proud of yourself for having this chat with your parents. Asking for help is difficult, especially for those of us with anxiety! You’re another step closer to healing your anxious mind.
Ask Your Parents for What You Need
Remember that you decided to talk to your parents about this for a reason: to get more help than you had before. After you’ve addressed the problems, ask your parents to help you find a solution. If you know what you want, tell them very clearly what that is, whether that be therapy, medication, a change in schools, etc. Explain why you think these changes will help you, and ask them if they have new ideas to offer. Keep in mind that there’s no magical cure for anxiety, so your parents aren’t going to be able to snap their fingers and rid your mind of anxious thoughts right away. This is going to take time and patience.
If you’re not sure how to ask your parents for what you need, try phrasing it in one of the following ways:
- “I’ve been doing a lot of research on my own, and I think a proper diagnosis is the first step to figuring this out. Can we make an appointment to see my doctor?”
- “A lot of the factors that cause my anxiety are coming from [school/work/family] stress. Can we make a change there, and see if that helps? What would it take to change schools/my job/our family dynamics?”
- “I’ve done lots of reading about this, and I think if you looked at the research, you’d understand what I need. Can you please look at these verified resources before you give me an answer about solutions to my problem?”
If you and your parents aren’t sure where to look for solutions to your anxiety struggles, counseling is always a good start. You can look at our list of partner organizations or search for a family counselor through Focus on the Family to find a good fit.
Embrace a Hopeful Outlook
It’s normal to feel a little stuck when you’ve been battling anxiety. You may be exhausted from the daily struggle, but we promise, you aren’t trapped. There are so many tools available to help you combat this monster in your brain, and we can help you find them! Start with The Rooted Fruit’s tips for controlling anxiety and talk to your parents about helping you find a counselor or doctor to work with you. With these resources, you have every reason to believe that you can learn to manage your anxiety, and for those moments when it’s just too overwhelming to believe in a better future, look to these promises from God. He does not intend for you to live under the constant burden of anxious thoughts. You CAN be free of them! If you’re struggling to see that hope, or if you’re not sure your parents will be supportive when you talk to them, reach out to us at TheHopeLine today. We’d love to help you practice this conversation or help you find other resources as you bravely combat your anxiety symptoms.