Anxiety: Friend, Foe, or Super Power

Anxiety has been both friend and foe all my life. Lately, it has also become my super power. As far back as I can remember I have had anxiety attacks. I didn’t know what they were or that other people felt the same way, I only knew that there were times when I felt unbelievably afraid. Most of the time I struggle to find the best way to bring the anxiety down to a level that is tolerable. When I can reach a level that will allow me to function, I try to find the trigger. I don’t usually find anything specific.

I have found that the base of my anxiety is usually fear. However, there are times when it is just my body or mind telling me that the path I am about to step out onto is not safe, these times the anxiety has been a guide post rather than a barrier. On a few occasions the panic would begin when I started to do something that made me feel unsure. Those times when it seems like a good idea, but, it is a really, really bad idea. When that has happened I have felt the anxiety rise and stay at a level that I could function with, but was very uncomfortable. On those occasions all I need to do is reevaluate what I am doing and change direction. The anxiety lessens and I can breathe easy again.

I have what my daughter calls “stealth anxiety attacks.” Being able to appear calm when inside I am falling apart is one of my safety mechanisms. It is easier to stay safe from a predator when you appear calm. Vulnerability, for me, during a panic or anxiety attack has been known to be dangerous. Due to my stealth anxiety I usually need to announce that I am having an attack.

There have only been a couple of times when I couldn’t ride it out or calm myself. The one recent time that I couldn’t ride it out alone and find my way to the other side, I was fortunate that two of my older children were there to help me. They stayed with me, rubbed my back, and talked to me quietly. When I had calmed enough to move and start to function again I climbed into my bed. My son sat on the end of the bed and massaged my feet while giving me the PG-rated version of Game of Thrones. Since it was the PG version it didn’t take him long to go through the first four seasons. I was asleep before the end of the story. This was an aberration. Usually the attacks are not this intense.

I have begun to view my anxiety attacks as neither a good or bad thing. They are a real pain at three in the morning. But they are very helpful in understanding when I have reached the edge of my comfort zone. If I can bear the feelings and move forward I can move my comfort zone out a little farther, widening my world, giving me options and choices.

I have begun to look at anxiety as my super power. It tells when I am doing too much, moving into uncharted space, and when things are not going in the right direction. Through meditation, and on occasion medication, I can figure out where the anxiety is based. It is not really as easy as it sounds. It takes a lot of practice and it doesn’t always work. Fighting it all the time doesn’t work either. Somewhere in the middle is an answer. I know that when I am awake at three in the morning that there is nothing I am going to be able to do to fix whatever problem has me by the throat.

By seeing anxiety as a super power, I am trying to take away the scare factor and see if I can’t turn it into a guide instead. When I have anxiety because I am going into unknown territory, like the doctor’s appointments for my heart, I ask questions and get knowledge. For me knowledge and planning take away some of the anxiety. There are times when getting information is not possible. For those times I just try to make things as safe as possible, find out as much as I can, and hope for the best. Which also means having a lot of anxiety.

Whether I view anxiety as a friend, foe, or Super Power, it is a part of who I am. And learning to accept that has helped me navigate my anxiety a little easier. So, what is your anxiety; Friend, Foe, or Super Power?

7 thoughts on “Anxiety: Friend, Foe, or Super Power

  1. What a wonderful post … I love the way you write. For me, I have given my anxiety and depression a name. She is called Betty. Betty used to live with me all the time. Now she resides outside in a shed which is firmly locked and bolted. Occasionally I can feel and hear her come and I know that she is never far away, but I finally have found through every single thing that I’ve been doing over these past couple of years has made me stronger and now she is weak. I’m nearly there. But my goodness, that Betty is quite the bitch!! Katie x

  2. In recent years I’ve learned that when I get anxious if I accept it, sit with it, feel it (sometimes like a meditation), name it – that makes it okay – can’t fight it, can’t say go away…either it will go away or it won’t, but I can go on okay – it’s the fighting it that makes it grow.

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