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!

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Me and My Shoes: An Impossible Love Story

I once watched an episode of SpongeBob that showed a deranged chocolate salesman pretending to have a rare medical condition where his skin was made of tissue paper and his bones made of glass, in a sympathy bid to make SpongeBob and Patrick buy his chocolate bars.  Every time he moved all you heard were his screams and glass shattering, as well as tragic violin music playing in the background.  This is the closest analogy I have found to the ordeal I go through wearing shoes.  That or a Greek tragedy, where you think two people (or in this case a girl and a pair of perfect shoes) are destined to be together, for them later to get smighted by Zeus/ killed by a Minotaur etc.

I love shoes.  I buy shoes.  I just can’t seem to wear shoes.  My feet hate me.  My feet want to be free.  My feet are so controlling that they impose conditions on when and how I can wear them – they basically hold my feet to (crippling) ransom!  When I buy a beautiful pair of new shoes I find myself crying at the till much to the horror of the assistant (“SECURITY!”) thinking, how will they punish me this time?!  Here are some of their demands:

  • Suede boots – You can be worn on a dry day between the temperatures of 10 and 15 degrees. If you violate these conditions you will receive a shock in the form of agonising cramps (too cold) or blisters (too hot) depending on how we feel.  Hell, sometimes we’ll throw a curveball and give you both.
  • Leather boots – You may be worn with socks not tights otherwise you will suffer the consequences. If you fail to adhere to our strict instructions we will peel off and send you the skin off the sole of your foot.  Please bear in mind, we may choose not to act on specific occasions to lull you into a false sense of security, but if you try it again you will be punished twice as severely.
  • High heels – You may buy high heels between 2 and 3.5 inches in height and you may NEVER wear stilettos. If you do not comply we will break your ankle(s)!
  • Doc Martins – We’re aware these are meant to be comfy, but we don’t really like purple.  So we’ll arbitrarily punish you for your fashion choices as we see fit.
  • Comfiest shoes I have ever worn – If worn more than 3 times in a row we will make you bleed until you are unable to wear them for at least a week.
  • Flip-flops and slippers – Basically made of foam and fabric, but we will find a way to injure you. Probably via a fibre infection in an existing wound.
  • Bare feet – Sheer unadulterated joy!

One day I will go to the Ball – probably in bare feet! FML!