Anxiety as an “Unexpected Gift”

I read something today that really resonated with me, and as part of my Blogging 101 assignment I thought I would take the concept of that post and express my own thoughts about it. You can find the original post here.

The author, Asher, talks about how his Bi-polar disorder has affected his life in a big way, in both very negative ways, but also really positive ones.  He mentions that the disorder can provide times of extreme clarity, insight and creativity, and that the positives of Bi-polar are often dismissed in discussion.

Asher’s main point is that living with Bi-polar has enabled him to take control of his own life and define success in his own way.  I would argue that the same is true of living with my anxiety, albeit on a smaller scale.

When I first found out I was an anxiety sufferer (although I had suspected for years) I had to take time out from my university studies as I kept having acute panic attacks.  During that time of my life I had placed myself under immense pressure, and was following a career path which wasn’t right for me.  It was a very difficult year of my life, but made me stronger, and changed me in ways I didn’t expect.

  • I got an admin job on a 6 month temporary contract, which although relevant to my studies, was not what I envisaged myself doing long term.
  • I re-evaluated my career aspirations in light of my anxiety – not I hasten to add because I felt like I needed to settle for something else as I was unable to do what I had planned – that wasn’t the case at all.  If I’d decided to pursue that career, I could have done.  But the presence of my anxiety, made me have to address the elephant in the room.  Even with techniques to control it, I still had to live with it.  Was this career aspiration going to suit my mindset long term? Did I actually want this job, or did I like the idea of it? My conclusion: the idea was better than the reality.

I finished my studies and am now, funnily enough, working with my employer from my year out. However, my role has developed in many different directions. I’m now involved in event planning, social policy and research work, strategic planning, fundraising.  These are all things, which my anxiety helps me to do – I know that sounds odd!  One side effect of my anxiety is that I like to plan for lots of different eventualities (usually catastrophes).

Now managed, anxiety doesn’t control my life as much as it did, but I have been able to hone it as a skill for my work.  I’m doing a job that I love, that I never would have imagined doing. So for me too my anxiety is an “unexpected gift.”

Thank you Asher for making me realise!