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Help - trying to support friend with severe anxiety(9 Posts)
A close friend has always been anxious but recently it has spiralled out of control. It is all centred on her work and as I am in the same profession she calls and texts many times a day asking for reassurance, she has irrational fears that because of things she has done or not done at work that she will go to prison, be struck off from the profession, lose her job etc. I believe the fears are totally unfounded and irrational and often about things she did years ago, she gets obsessed about one issue and will repeatedly ask me questions on it from slightly different angles, or bring up the same worry weeks later. I give her my professional opinion each time that she's done nothing wrong but i feel it goes in one ear and out the other and is v frustrating.
I have finally managed to get her to book a counselling appt and made the first call for her (she has since spoken to the counsellor on the phone and will see her next week), however my question is for anyone who's suffered this level of anxiety, how can I help her? A friend read some of our texts (I am feeling a bit stressed and helpless by the bombardment of worries) and thought that I should refuse to answer so much, and that I might be enabling her worry....i feel like at least I can give her actual assurance from a professional view that she is worrying about nothing (altho she says she knows before she speaks to me its irrational, she just cant control it). I feel like i'm an on tap counsellor and not equipped to deal with her level of stress! Can anyone help as to how I should respond to her to help her?
Gosh, that sounds like quite a stressful situation for you.
I have anxiety but I'm the opposite to your friend - I internalise and keep stuff to myself.
Perhaps you do need to be cruel to be kind, to a certain extent. Perhaps respond that you're in a meeting/busy/didn't see the phone???
From personal experience the issue is for the person suffering to deal with ultimately, but in times of panic it is great to find an ally to lean on.
Is it not possible for her to take some sick leave? She sounds incredibly anxious to even consider being at work?
You sound like you have the patience of a saint but I can imagine its becoming quite stressful for you, and that isn't right.
Sorry, I know that's not a lot of help.
She's needs CBT not just counselling. A trip to the doctors can get a referral and they can discuss if medication will be helpful to her.
You reassuring her feeds her anxiety but don't stop. She needs to be in the right place to work on it and a Cognitive behavioural therapist will help her do that, then you can support her by working on tackling it in the ways they suggest.
I just wanted to say how wonderful it is that you are sticking by her. Anxiety can end up pushing people away but this is the time she needs support the most
Thank you for the replies! The counsellor is trained in CBT according to her webpage. She went to the GP once and and he didn't refer her so I think she felt reluctant to go again.... Wish I could have shown the GP all her texts! She has booked 3 weeks off work for a big holiday coming up soon so I think she's holding on til then and I said its a chance for her to catch her breath and reassess things. She is reluctant to go off sick but I think she definitely needs a break!
I've stopped answering her texts and calls after 8pm.... Said I go to bed early with kids as the baby wakes me up a lot on the night.... This is true but I do sometimes read the texts and need to wait til morning to reply when I have replenished my reserves of patience!
Can anyone tell me what sort of techniques might be suggested in CBT? I did some googling about this and anxiety disorders generally and came up with trying to get her to focus on how unlikely it is that her worst fears will come true, I don't seem to be making much of an impact though! And I fear it sounds unsympathetic.
They discuss with you why you are having these issues and what causes it/feeds it.
It is about exposure. But it is controlled and manageable. You find small things that make you anxious and bear the anxiety for short periods of time working up to more and more. They don't throw you in the deep end! It is hard and you have to work at it but they give you techniques on distracting your mind and changing your thoughts. You get homework every week and it is a commitment.
My area does self referral. You can ask for a pack to fill in and send off at the docs. Maybe ask about that?
Just to add that CBT is about the 'future' rather than the 'past'. Less about procrastinating about why something happened, looking for a reason etc., and more about how to change the thought process going forward.
I'm only a couple of sessions in so currently looking at my various triggers for anxiety and the next session will look at how to work on these.
I've had traditional counselling in the past which delved into my upbringing, bad things that happened but it didn't bring me to closure or help me to get past the issues just by talking about them. This is where CBT is meant to be much more successful because it doesn't seek blame, more about how one can retrain the mind to cope day to day. (Might not work for everyone but as someone who's had anxiety for 10 years I'm really quite hopeful).
Thanks, thats really helpful info. I will be asking her how how goes at the appt and hopefully I can support her with some of the techniques... I think I will ring her GP surgery as well and ask the reception if they know who they refer to for CBT in case this counsellor does not work out.
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