I’m Learning That Huntington’s Anxiety Doesn’t Need to Be Contagious

One way to better control anxiety is by letting some things go

Carlos Briceño avatar

by Carlos Briceño |

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Twenty minutes.

I was leaving work 20 minutes later than planned, which meant I would be late to pick up my wife, Jill, at home. We had dinner plans that evening with friends, and I knew she would be a nervous wreck by the time I arrived.

Being late has always bothered her, but since being diagnosed as gene-positive with Huntington’s disease in 2018, it’s gotten worse.

As I got into my car to drive home, I called to tell her I was leaving. She is not the type to complain, but I always know when she feels anxious. When she answered, she sounded a little worried. I started to apologize for leaving later than expected because I was held up by a meeting.

“It’s not the end of the world,” she said, sounding relieved that I was OK. “All that matters is that you get home safely.”

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As I drove, I noticed my muscles were tense. I’d been bracing for her anxious reaction, but now that I knew she wasn’t anxious, I took a deep breath and relaxed.

When I picked her up, I apologized, and she told me again it was OK and that she felt bad I was feeling anxious. I told her I was more concerned about her anxiety.

She told me that being late happens sometimes, and she’d texted our friends to let them know we were running late. Her calm when faced with running behind was new to me, so I asked her about it.

“I’m working on controlling my anxiety and the things I can’t control,” she said. “I’m working on just letting go and increasing my patience.”

I was impressed by her self-awareness and ability to work on aspects of herself that she knows could be healthier. She admitted it wasn’t easy, but knows it’s important for her to conquer as many issues as she can while she still has the ability to do so.

Unfortunately, anxiety is a common symptom in Huntington’s patients, and Jill knows it can become an out-of-control monster.

As we arrived at the restaurant, Jill grabbed my face and looked at me with her beautiful brown eyes and said she loves that I don’t want to do anything to upset her, but that I would need to learn to avoid letting her anxiety become mine.

As her Huntington’s progresses, she knows she will have less control over her emotions, so she’ll need me to keep calm and carry on no matter what she’s feeling.

Note: Huntington’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Huntington’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Huntington’s disease.


Herwig Lange avatar

Herwig Lange

Wonderful story! Avoid stress. Communicate, when things run a bit different than expected, to avoid getting nervous or anxious!

Carlos Briceño avatar

Carlos Briceño

Thank you for your expertise Dr. Lange. It’s amazing how much stress can affect every part of your mind, body, and soul.

Darlene Wilt avatar

Darlene Wilt

My husband had so much anxiety which I did not recognize until later. He had been showing symptoms of the disease 15 years before he was diagnosed. By then it was so hard to help him avoid stress.

Carlos Briceño avatar

Carlos Briceño

Thank you for sharing your story with us. I am sorry to hear your husband and you suffered for so many years. We keep working on educating everyone we meet about HD and it’s symptoms and we encourage our readers to do the same!

Kathy avatar


Wow is one of the best articles I’ve read. I am a person with late onset. I totally agree that we needed to re-look at what onset means. I you you might include me in that conversation. It has been an interesting journey to get to 64. Thank you for all you do and for helping me along the way.

Carlos Briceño avatar

Carlos Briceño

Thank you for reading our column and telling us about your journey. I am sorry you are suffering from HD but I am glad you are willing to speak up about what you think needs to be improved. Talk to anyone and everyone you know to help educate them. That includes your doctors and medical professionals you see.


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