Saturday, 26 March 2016

Is There Ever An Upside To Anxiety?

I feel like the short answer to this is basically no, but given that Lizzie Pook (a fellow sufferer) has written an entire post on what she thinks that the upsides are, I figure I should probably give a little bit more from my side in order to create some form of balance. Like Lizzie, my anxiety wasn't always present; as a child I was confident, I had a lot of friends and I danced which - at the time - was the height of cool. As a teenager, self doubt crept in and by the time I got into sixth form, it was close to unbearable. I stopped going to school, avoided lessons and busy rooms, I didn't go to parties or clubs and when I left school I spent ridiculous amounts of time alone with my anxiety only worsening and worsening, which just about brings us to now.

Anxiety isn't a life sentence, but when you're in the midst of it you better know that it can feel a lot like one. It's limiting and distressing and more often than not, it's the only clear part of your personality that you can pick out. It's horrible and unpleasant, and if there was an upside to this illness I would shout it from the rooftops but, in my opinion, I couldn't disagree with Pook's celebration of these points any more. I have no doubts that the facts represented are true; I am often better at reading negative emotions in other people but that is because I tend to only see negative emotions irregardless of the situation. I may be seen as more truth worthy than others, but the fact is that is because I'm usually so worried about what other people's opinions of me spreading rumours will be that I go out of my way to avoid anything that might come across like that. I have a better memory that often specialises in criticising every slight fault I've ever made in my entire life and I'm less likely to be killed in an accident because I barely leave my house and, when I do, I'm so hyperaware of everything around me that it would be impossible to miss a car speeding towards me.

The fact is; for me, these pale in comparison to my illness. These slight upsides which, by the way, come with undeniable downsides tied to them, aren't enough for me to consider them a plus point of my illness. They are logical things that come as a reaction to the way I act and think due to my life changing mental illness, they might be seen as positive to those people standing outside looking in, but I find it hard to believe that this makes up for any of the suffering that it puts me through on a daily basis. Like Lizzie, I'm aware that my anxiety accentuates some of my positive personality points, it makes me less judgemental, more tactful, helps in some ways with my creativity - but the fact is that it brings more bad than good. For almost every good point there are two bad to counteract it - my illness can make me selfish, shallow and self obsessed; it makes me angry, spiteful and bitter. There are good points to it, but as fortunate side effects, and there are far more in the way of bad.

Anxiety is soul destroying, and life changing and it affects every single person that I come into contact with. It's isolating, and saddening and it's like watching your life be wasted from inside the safety of your bed. In my opinion, any upsides are purely coincidental and I'd give every single one up in order to have my mental health back. I get wanting to grasp the good in a situation, but in this one the good just isn't worth everything else that comes with it.

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: Living With Social Anxiety

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