I’m sure you are thinking from the title, “There are benefits to anxiety? How could there be benefits to having anxiety?” Well, after many years of counseling with many different counselors I can tell you that there are benefits, but of course this has taken me years to figure out. I talked earlier about my experience with anxiety. Plain and simple…. It. Stinks. Sometimes you are suffering and you look just fine to others but there is an inner battle raging.
The major benefit of anxiety is sensitivity. When I am sick, which doesn’t happen often, I can feel it. If something physically is wrong, I catch it immediately. Once when I was in 5th grade I found a lump in my breast. It ended up being no big deal. The point is that I noticed it. I notice every change, bump, or difference which means I should catch a major illness early if it should ever occur.
I am also very sensitive to others. When I have a conversation with someone I can sense if they are upset or if I say something wrong. I also notice if they are off. A friend of mine seemed off once and I asked her if she was ok. She later told me I was the only one that had noticed that she was acting different. I constantly am putting myself in the other person’s shoes and trying to think what I would need or want in their situation and acting on it.
I get a lot done and am constantly busy. In order to cope, I like to have order in my house. I can’t relax if its overly messy or disorganized. I am always tackling a project or continuing to do things because it helps me feel less anxious. I can accomplish a lot in a day from cooking, cleaning, homeschooling, exercising to writing, playing, reading, etc. I don’t care to sit idle and I like to keep my hand busy. Sometimes I crochet while I watch TV or sit.
Now you may wonder how I know I’m more sensitive than others. Well, a couple years ago I had enough and I finally made the decision to go on zoloft. It was so awful to try and start the medicine and I slept a ton, but I will say it was like someone turned a switch off in my brain. I stopped having the running list and I really didn’t care about the things I used to. I wouldn’t notice all the little things I did before. My husband would ask my a question and I usually said “I don’t care.” He was always a little worried because usually I would care! I would say something and it wouldn’t really cross my mind to care what they think. Before medicine I may replay the conversation constantly in my head. I just came to not care period. Well, that became an issue and took away a lot of who I was away. So after about 6 months I decided to go off it. I was having trouble sleeping on the meds and we wanted to have another child. I also kept forgetting things. When I explained all these “side effects” to a friend she simply told me this is how most people are and how they feel on a regular basis.
I know some of you may not think of these items as benefits to anxiety but they really are. They help to shape me as a person and without these I would be completely different.
Do you suffer from anxiety? What benefits do you see?