How Chronic Anxiety Is Really an Ally
Updated: Jul 28, 2019
By Jordyn | @TheChronicallyUnimaginable | July 21, 2019
Anxiety exists in our minds to help alert to danger or situations that need to be solved. It is the core of the essential 'fight or flight system' that we all have. Anxiety is meant to protect us from immediate events, such as an oncoming collision or flood. In these situations, we benefit from anxiety so that we have the ability to make a quick decision to save our own life. However, due to genetics, lifestyle, and traumatic events, this protective system can get stuck in the on mode permanently. That is how people develop different anxiety conditions.
Having any type of chronic anxiety disorder is extremely difficult. Whether it be Generalized Anxiety, Social Anxiety, Panic Disorder, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety is a large burden to carry. As someone who has lived with chronic anxiety issues for her entire life, I can attest to this fact. I can also say that anxiety isn't the villain that it is made to look like. Living with anxiety has taught me quite a few things, but of all of them, the most important is that anxiety is a friend. You may be reading this now thinking that I'm off my rocker, but I'm serious. Let me show you why.
The first reason I have found anxiety to be beneficial is because it makes you more motivated. Motivation is hard to come by these days being like a well without water. However, when you have anxiety, you do not lack the desire to get a task done. This is helpful in school, work, and home life. Most people find it impossible to stay motivated for long periods of time. This is detrimental when working towards a long term goal such as saving for a new car, a promotion, or paying off debt. Those with anxiety are able to see that long term goal, because our anxiety keeps our thoughts in the future. Anxious people often crave being able to check tasks off their list. This is a trait I'm sure the rest of the world wishes they had.
Anxiety also causes people to be more aware. I know from personal experience that anxiety will make you look at all of the exits in a building and figure out the fastest way to get there in an emergency. You never know when that trait will come in handy. Our intuition is strong as well. We know when something does not feel right and we avoid it. Anxious people stay safe. They never risk it, ever. While it may be perceived as being overcautious, we can use this awareness to our own advantage. An example I like to give is from one of my favorite shows, 'Naked and Afraid'. Two people go out naked to an area and try to survive for three weeks. Contestants have contracted diseases such as Malaria, Dengue Fever, and Dysentery to name a few. Anxious people would not go on the show for the risk involved is too great. Our anxiety therefore would have protected us from getting said diseases.
Another amazing reason why anxiety is helpful is because of empathy. Anxiety causes people to go through a great struggle everyday. However because of this, we are much more lenient to things such as longer wait times, messed up food orders, and someone bumping into us on the street. We can see past the annoyance to the struggle the other person is having. Our anxiety allows us the ability to be supportive to others, rather than making rash judgments about them. We are great listeners and will help solve other's problems. This in turn provides strong friendships that last. Anxious people are also so accepting and loving of others. We always have a shoulder to cry on or suggest ideas to solve problems. At least from my experience, I know that anxiety makes me love helping others so that they don't experience the suffering that I do. While anxiety is hard, we often use it as a way to brighten other's days, therefore brightening our own.
The last way that anxiety is beneficial is because it makes us natural leaders. With the motivation I talked about earlier, we have the strive to succeed and often don't mind managing projects. I bet many of you reading this did all of your group assignments in school, because I sure did. We desire success. Success that matches our own standards, which are often very high. This gives us a leg up, so to speak, to gain the outcome that we want. We know how things need to be done to run efficiently and can make sure that everyone gets their part finished. Anxious people are natural born leaders because of their awareness, motivation, and empathy. We know how to help motivate others to succeed, how to reach the goals we set, and how to work effectively. Anxiety is surprisingly important in helping many people achieve what they set out to do.
Anxiety is not a walk in the park. Untreated, it can rule over your life and wreak havoc on your livelihood. However, the world is gaining more and more awareness about mental health every day. There are medications and treatments that help to make all forms of anxiety manageable. I wanted to write this today to show you that anxiety is not the enemy. Sure, it causes a lot of trouble, but it also gives you abilities that most people do not have. When we choose to look at our situation in a different light, our feelings about it change. So, I hope that all of you anxiety warriors out there know that you do not have to feel discouraged. We may go through so much every day, but we also get a lot in return.
Bio: Jordyn C. is a chronically ill blogger who runs The Chronically Unimaginable. She is very involved in the chronic illness, mental health, and disability communities. Jordyn is an active volunteer for the Chronic Disease Coalition and a Brand Ambassador for Ivye Wear. Her work has been published on The Mighty and on several guest blogs. She is actively looking for opportunities to share her story. You can find her on her blog, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.