Is It Normal To Feel Resentment Toward Loved Ones Who Don’t Understand Anxiety Disorder?

Written by Jim Folk
Last updated September 15, 2022

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Video Transcript

I haven’t told my family members that I’ve been struggling with anxiety for years. And now that I’m working on my recovery, they constantly give me a hard time for not doing everything they want and needing time to “destress.” They often say, “Everyone is stressed from time to time, and they don’t stop doing family things because of that.” Their impatience and constant needling really bother me. My question is, is it normal to feel resentment toward loved ones who don’t understand anxiety disorder? I think my resentment might be affecting my recovery.

Unfortunately, yes, it’s common to feel resentment toward those who don’t know you are struggling with anxiety disorder and are impatient with you, and those who know you are struggling with anxiety disorder but don’t understand how devastating it can be, so they minimize it.

I dealt with that a lot during my years with anxiety disorder, and I initially felt resentment toward them, too. I often thought, “If they only knew how bad anxiety disorder can be, they would be more understanding and patient with me.”

Even with people who knew I was struggling with anxiety disorder, it was difficult because they’d often say, “I’m anxious from time to time myself, and it’s not that bad! Why don’t you just get over it?”

I even had one person say, “I had a panic attack once, and I got over it. Why haven’t you?”

I often thought of telling them there’s a vast difference between feeling somewhat anxious and having ONE panic attack, and having horrendous anxiety and multiple thousands of panic attacks every year for many years!

However, in time, I realized that no one would truly understand how bad anxiety disorder can be until they went through it themselves. And that was the harsh truth I had to come to terms with.

Eventually, I did come to terms with that and offered grace.

Whenever I heard those insensitive comments, I thought, “Offer grace. They have no idea what I’m dealing with. Be patient with them just as I would like them to be patient with me.”

Despite coming to this realization, it took a long time to get rid of my resentment toward those making insensitive comments.

Many of my anxiety clients felt the same way, and we hear that often from therapy clients and Recovery Support members. Again, it’s a common situation.

My (Jim Folk) recommendation is to be as gracious and patient as you can toward those who don’t understand what you are going through. It’s unrealistic for them to understand until they experience severe anxiety disorder themselves. Thankfully, many won’t.

So, do your best to be patient with those who are insensitive. And once you have recovered, you might be able to explain to them what you went through so that they have a better idea should they encounter someone else dealing with anxiety disorder.

If they understand, great! If they don’t, at least you tried.

Nevertheless, continue to work on your recovery and offer grace. Being patient and offering grace can eliminate feelings of resentment.

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The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources

Return to our Anxiety Frequent Questions archive.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including this Frequently Asked Anxiety Question.