Tuesday, 4 November 2014

5 Things I'm Thankful To My Anxiety Disorder For

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This post was originally going to be the story of how I got diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder but a few paragraphs in I deleted everything I had written. The reason? Well if I'm honest it made for a really quite dull and depressing read! I don't know about you but I only tend to read stories that have happy endings and I haven't quite reached my happy ending yet. I'm getting there though, don't you worry!

Instead I've decided to focus on all the positive things I've gained from living with an anxiety disorder. Yep you heard me! Here's 5 things I'm thankful for my anxiety disorder having taught me:

1. Empathy. I've always been quite an empathetic person, some would say 'sensitive', but I've become even more so since having to deal with an anxiety disorder. My anxiety levels can leave me feeling short tempered, angry and antisocial amongst other things. So now when I come across a stranger who's rude, instead of feeling angry at them I think 'Who know's what they're dealing with?' or 'Maybe they've had a bad day' and instantly my anger extinguishes.

2. I'm a pro in nerve-wracking situations! My family and I often joke that I probably cope better during nervous situations than most other people because I've had so much practise at it! For example I passed my driving test first time this year and I think the only reason I passed first time was because I had had practise at dealing with those kind of nerves before.

3. Honesty is the best policy. I used to be one of those people who liked to keep their feelings hidden from everyone around them until I was forced to talk about my feelings to a professional. There's something about pouring your heart and soul out to a complete stranger that feels absolutely incredible! You'd be amazed at just how many people you meet who have their own stories about anxiety or other mental illnesses and just how kind and understanding people can be once you start being honest.

4. The strongest people are fighting a hidden battle. Some would call people with mental illnesses weak, they say to 'just get over it' or 'pull yourself together'. I'd say that people living with mental illnesses are some of the strongest people you'll ever meet. They have lives to get on with, people to see and things to do, all the while fighting daily with an illness they have no control over. If that isn't a sign of strength then I don't know what is!

5. The realisation that nobody is 'normal'! For the best part of two years I berated myself for not being 'normal'. Thankfully I eventually came to the realisation that normal doesn't exist because my interpretation of normal is completely different from everyone else's. Neither is right or wrong, I'm me and you're you and that's ok!

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