I'm Thankful for My Anxiety
Is it possible to be thankful for anxiety? Since Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and it’s because it’s tempting to write about what I’m thankful for, I’m going to give in to that temptation. And because I’ve never been one to shy away from taking contentious positions, I’m going to go right out and say that I’m thankful that I have anxiety.
Why Most People Aren’t Thankful for Anxiety
Many people may find that statement confusing, or outright disagree with it. To be fair, I understand why that would be the case. The conversations around mental health tend to be dominated by the negative impacts on those who have them. Honestly, that makes sense – if mental illness is characterized by a deviancy in the brain that causes a detrimental impact on one’s life, then the negatives are just going to move to the front of the line.
As someone who is mentally ill, I’m just as guilty of this as anybody else. I don’t go out of my way to actively define myself as mentally ill; therefore, I think about the fact that I’m mentally ill when my mental illnesses are actively preventing me from doing something I want to do. Furthermore, when something good happens to me, I hardly ever attribute it to mental illness.
Why I’m Thankful for My Anxiety
Maybe it would be helpful to reframe this exclusively negative picture of mental illness. Admittedly, this is hard to do, but I find it healthier to look at mental illness from a more ambivalent perspective. For those not sure what that means, ambivalence is when you feel two simultaneous ways, both positive and negative, about something at the same time. Despite the fact that the negatives are so prominent, developing an ambivalent attitude by accepting the negatives while finding and embracing the positives, is not impossible.
For me, I wish I wasn’t so anxious that I sometimes have to do nothing but lay under my blankets and ride out the stress. But at the same time, I love the fact that because I get so anxious and need to withdraw from all others, I get to spend a lot more time indulging in my passions. I love the fact that because I get so anxious around confrontations, it’s helped me cut out toxic people from my life. I love the fact that because anxiety will often strike at the most unforeseen moments, it’s forced me to really get to know myself and figure out just what I can do to help me feel happy.
Obviously, I wish I could take away the bad things that anxiety causes. At the same time, I would never in a million years take away the positives. Without anxiety, who knows if those positives would even still be there. Because of that, I wouldn’t want my anxiety to disappear. I accept the bad and embrace the good. And that’s why I’m thankful for my anxiety.
DeSalvo, T. (2019, November 27). I'm Thankful for My Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, July 6 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2019/11/im-thankful-for-my-anxiety