Would An Anxiety Chat Room Help Me Cope?
By Julia Thomas
Updated February 10, 2020
Reviewer Lisa Cooper
You may have run across an anxiety chat room online and wondered whether there would be any value in discussing your worries and fears with people you don't know. After all, coping with life's dangers and uncertainties is a difficult task when you suffer from anxiety. When you feel alone, every day can feel like an endless struggle. People with sunny dispositions find it hard to understand your concerns. Yet, there is hope. Help with your anxiety may come from someone you've never even met before.
Do You Want to Overcome Your Anxiety?
It may seem silly to ask yourself if you want to stop feeling anxious. It's a horrible feeling. But, the truth is that you might find that you're not ready to let go of the fearful thoughts that keep you emotionally paralyzed. You might feel that you understand the dangers better than others, and that if you don't keep thinking about them, the worst could happen. Or, you might feel that if you think about it long enough, you'll find a way to avoid disaster. Although you may not be ready to let go of your worries, the fact that you're considering anxiety chat means that you're ready to join in the conversation.
Do You Want to Talk to Someone Who Understands What You're Going Through?
The people who spend time in anxiety chats deal with fear just like you do. They might even feel anxious about the same things you do. They know what it's like to feel like your nerves are on fire or like you're headed for a breakdown. Be ready for people to call you out on your anxieties, though. Many of them might already understand enough about anxiety to know that much of it is groundless. As you stick with the chat room over time, you might find yourself telling others what they have told you - that it will get better.
Finding Help Beyond the Anxiety Chat Room
People who feel the same way as you are feeling can help, but this may not be sufficient to help you address all that you are dealing with. Someone who has been trained in helping others deal with anxiety can provide a higher level of support and teach you techniques to deal with your anxiety. You can keep touching base in the anxiety chat room while working with a licensed counselor to address the negative symptoms you are experiencing.
Healthy Communication in a Chatroom
If you do decide to interact in an anxiety chatroom for support, it is best to start with a few ground rules for your communications. First, you need to remember where you are. Remind yourself of the following considerations each time you get ready to login to the chatroom.
- Do you need to stay anonymous?
There are many reasons why someone might need to remain anonymous when discussing mental health issues. It is not always easy to keep people from knowing who you are, especially if you have a job where you deal with the public or a high-level job in a company or organization. Even if you are not much of a public person, talking about people by name can cause you to accidentally reveal who you are. Giving specific places and times can do the same thing. So, rather than telling details that are not essential, keep to the type of situation, what happened that caused you distress, and your feelings about it.
- Random means random
When you are talking to random people in a chatroom, it's likely that you don't know them. It is not certain, though. There is a chance that someone you know or someone who knows the story will wind up in the same chatroom. Remember that random means it could be anyone. Some of those people could possibly be people you know. The beauty of individual therapy is that you are less likelybe in a position where you might reveal things to a friend, family member, co-worker or boss who might use the information against you or feel hurt by the things you have said. You are only talking to a therapist, whose name and reputation you know, in a secure video or phone call or live chat.
- Who's talking and who is listening?
When people go to an anxiety chatroom for support, they may be more interested in talking than listening. They want to tell their story and express their feelings. Few people who have conquered their anxiety continue going to these chatrooms. When they do, they rarely listen, but instead get a quick view of the problem and tell what worked for them. Although that is helpful, it does not replace a therapist who spends time just listening and seeking to understand you and your challenges. In a therapy situation, the focus is on you, how you think and feel, and what you want for yourself. The therapist takes care of their own needs apart from you, but another person in a chatroom might expect things of you that you are not able or willing to give.
- Communicate clearly
You are under no obligation to say things a certain way or to say anything at all if you do not want to participate. However, if you do chat, you will get along with others and benefit more if you express yourself clearly. Your story is your story. You get to tell it however you want. Yet, if you do not get to the heart of the matter, no one will gain anything from your telling it, and they will not be able to help you in any way, either. When you express feelings, let the chatroom participants know your comments are not directed at them. If you are offering suggestions, try to be clear about whether you know something or only wonder if it is a possibility.
- Most chatroom participants only know what works for one person
When you go into a chatroom, you may find one or more person who has found some solutions to living with anxiety. While that is admirable, it might not help you at all. They are likely only able to speak with confidence about what they personally experienced. A counselor, on the other hand, has worked with many anxiety sufferers. They understand that each person is different. Each has different experiences, challenges, symptoms and solutions. They work with you to find the techniques and strategies that will help you specifically.
- All advice is not created equal
Some people in an anxiety chatroom will give you advice that makes sense and works out beautifully. Others may lead you down a path that increases your discomfort now and in the future. Just because someone tells you it worked for them, does not mean it will work for you. In fact, they may be fabricating information to sound intelligent. Within the chatroom, you need to weigh each thing you read and evaluate the information. You have a choice to listen or not- to act on it or reject it. Go into the chatroom with an open mind, certainly, but also go in with an active mind, ready to disregard bad advice.
Another problem with advice from strangers in a chatroom is that you are not able to determine what background or knowledge this person has related to the topic. A licensed counselor can give you advice based on years of experience and education related to helping others deal with anxiety. They can share with you additional insights about anxiety that they have learned within the psychology profession. They can also support you as you make changes.
Some counselors do not spend a lot of time giving advice directly. They often create a supportive environment where you can discuss all your issues freely and openly without fear of embarrassment or judgment from others. They guide you to a better understanding of yourself and your problems so that you can come to the best conclusions for yourself.
Making the Transition from Anxiety Chatroom to Counselor
For many people, participating in an anxiety chatroom is a good first step toward bettering their mental health. Once they explore this virtual space, they realize they need more direct and professional help. Fortunately, it's easy to make the switch from chatroom to counselor. You can stop hiding details and talk more freely and openly. You can start expressing feelings you've feared would be harshly judged by people in the chatroom. You can trust what the counselor says more than you could ever trust a random person who interacts anonymously with you online. It only takes a few moments to set up your online counseling. Whether you spend time in an anxiety chatroom or not, the best source of help is from a certified professional who puts the focus where you need it - on you.