Written by Alyssa Friedman
Having an anxiety disorder can be extremely exhausting and frustrating; the feeling that you’re constantly filled with nervous energy never seems to fade away. Anxiety can surely be a burden, and what I’ve learned is that it is a part of me that shapes how I behave in every aspect of my life. Instead of focusing on how physically and emotionally draining this is, lately I’ve really been thinking about how many positive qualities I have because of it. So here are 5 reasons why I am thankful for my anxiety:
1. I am very in touch with my body
Headache in my temples? Neck tightness? Nausea? Lump in my throat? These are the majority of my physical symptoms that I can almost always attribute to the way that I’m feeling that day. I’ve become pretty talented at analyzing the aches and pains in my body and recognizing that no I am not in fact dying (even though sometimes it feels like it), but it’s just my good friend anxiety reminding me of its presence. Sure these aren’t always good feelings, but sometimes it takes recognizing the negative physical feelings to know that I need to take a step back and perform some self-care. It’s all about being in touch with your body and what it needs from you.
2. I can understand the feelings of other’s better, even if they’re not the same as my own
Dealing with anxiety is something that not everyone understands, and knowing this I have greater sympathy for people that are dealing with their own struggles. I understand that sometimes days off from school and work are really important, and that having a person to talk to and lean on is essential. I’ve also found that I can pick up on the ways others are feeling without them being outward with it. Being very sensitive to other’s feelings is something I attribute to knowing what it’s like to overcome my own.
3. Sometimes I know how I’m going to feel before I feel it
Certain environments and situations are infamous for making me feel extra anxious, and knowing what those are can sometimes help me prevent it. If I know that the place I am going is going to be very crowded and loud, I can prepare myself ahead of time. If I know what to expect, I am more likely to be able to handle it much better than walking in blind. Also if I inform the people that I’m with that a certain situation makes me feel nervous, they can be extra supportive through it and understand that I may need to step away without questioning it.
4. I have greater appreciation for the times I feel relaxed and joyful
There are many hours I spend in my own mind worrying, but there are also many hours I spend carefree and happy, and knowing what it is like to feel tense and anxious allows me to better enjoy the times I am not. My good days can be treasured more because I know that there are times when they are few and far between. It is easy to overlook the days where not much goes on, but I’ve learned to hold them closer to my heart.
5. I am able to form bonds with people I wouldn’t have otherwise known
Being open about my anxiety has allowed me to meet people I would have never met otherwise. I can now say that I have friends across the country and in other countries that can relate to the way I feel, and having their support is something I never realized would make such an impact on my life. There are also people that I’ve known for years who are dealing with struggles similar to my own that I never knew about and wouldn’t have if I wasn’t open about my own.
Sure, there are times I wish more than anything that I wasn’t an anxious person, but over the 19 years of my life I’ve learned that with the bad comes the good. There are aspects of myself that I’m not sure would be there if I wasn’t a worrier, and that’s taught me to be thankful for every aspect of myself, because they’re what make me, me.