7 Things Anxiety Taught Me About Myself & Life

hand holding a blue pencil colouring in an adult colouring book which reads Celebrate The Good Times

It’s easy for us to look at anxiety as the enemy: the panic attacks, physical symptoms, intrusive thoughts and everything else that comes with it. It’s easy to remember anxiety from only negative memories. Afterall, it’s these negative experiences that leave us in fear, feeling our lowest, and not knowing how we could ever possibly get out of this black cloud of doom. Despite all that, anxiety actually works to our advantage. That’s right, we can learn to appreciate anxiety, if you’re willing to. 

I knowingly suffered from anxiety for two years before seeking help through CBT therapy. I say “knowingly suffered” as therapy taught me I’d likely suffered from it for far longer. But, I didn’t understand anxiety enough to spot the signs. Even when I did, I was still in denial for a while. Over time however, anxiety taught me a lot about myself, but also taught me how to appreciate small things in life I once took for granted. That’s what this post is all about: what anxiety has taught me about myself, and life, and how we can start to look at anxiety as this positive beam of light to help make coping with it that little bit easier.

7 things anxiety taught me about myself and life

  1. I’m an empath
    I wrote a blog post which goes into this in more detail, but anxiety (and therapy) taught me I’m an empath. Not only that, it taught me how being an empath heightened my anxiety, which helped me fix a big part of my recurring issues. Read my post about anxiety and being an empath.
  2. Sleep will overpower anxiety
    It’s easy to say, “get a good night’s sleep and you’ll feel better”, but getting to sleep, or staying asleep, is a whole other challenge. BUT, having said that, knowing just how much sleep benefits you and how it eases anxiety, may help just a little. At my lowest, I’d had four nights in a row of no sleep. I was the most exhausted I’d ever felt (explained more in my post about my panic attacks). Once I’d had a decent sleep, I felt so much better. The anxiety symptoms had eased, my mind was no longer in this viscous, over-thinking cycle of intrusive thoughts, and for once in a week, I finally felt myself.
  3. Avoidance is your enemy, not the anxiety
    When you understand what triggers your anxiety or a panic attack, it’s easy to avoid said things for as long as possible – or in some extreme cases, for life. Same for avoiding doing what you were doing at the time of a panic attack (even if that’s not what triggered it). We connect things with bad experiences, even when that thing caused us no harm. For example, my last big panic attack, I was just sitting on the sofa watching After Life 3 bloopers on TikTok at 5.45pm-ish, and bam! Out of nowhere, my heart was pounding, racing at 149bpm, amongst a handful of other symptoms.

    Moving forward, my anxiety heightened at 5.45pm everyday, I was scared to sit on my own sofa, I deleted TikTok, and I couldn’t bear to even think or talk about After Life 3. Why? Because I’d associated everything I was doing in that fearful moment as the reason for my panic attack, when it had nothing to do with it. Once I started to sit back on my sofa, watch a couple TikTok videos again and not keep watching the clock, the anxiety at this time of day lessened as each day went by.
  4. Having your own creative space is so beneficial
    I’ve blogged since 2014, but after a long hiatus and deleting my original blog, I found myself starting again with this blog. For a couple months, I found myself writing posts about anxiety, but never publishing them. Simply writing them, getting my thoughts out of my head and into words, helped. But once I plucked up the courage to make them public, it helped me in so many ways.

    Instagram has also played a huge part of this – the people I’ve spoken to via DM’s and engaged with on the platform are amazing. Which brings me on to my next point.
  5. Anxious people are great friends
    This isn’t saying non-anxious people aren’t, but when you’re going through something and you meet like-minded people who are also going through something similar, you feel a strong connection with them. After finally speaking to a friend about what was going on, I soon found out how much she was also going through, and naturally found our friendship became stronger and closer. 
  6. The important of going with the flow, living in the moment
    I used to have everything planned out, day by day, and would get stressed if we didn’t follow an agenda. I never truly knew why and always put it down to me simply being organised. But organisation had nothing to do with it, it was a control issue. I didn’t like not knowing when we were doing things, or what we were doing. Since therapy, I’ve learned to simply go with the flow. We want to go out for lunch but haven’t booked a table; take a chance! We want to view that show-home but haven’t booked an appointment; just show up and see what they say! I haven’t planned our weekend; simply do what you want to do, no agenda. It’s a far easier way of living, that’s for sure!
  7. You might not actually want what you set out to do or achieve
    Starting over is okay. Were you working towards big career goals? Or were you planning to buy this dream house? Or working towards any other life goals you now believe you don’t want? That’s okay. For a while, I believed I wanted to work up to senior management level in my career, and I was doing everything to prove myself as an employee. After taking a break from work to focus on my mental health, I reconsidered all of that. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to have a fulfilling career, but perhaps not with the same vision as before. 

What has anxiety taught you?

Share this post?

Leave a Comment

  • Trudie says:

    This is a really great blog post. My anxiety levels have increased since the start of the pandemic and at times are still high. Learning that being friends with other anxious people is a positive thing is also good to know and I fully agree with you here. I too have experienced sharing anxieties with close people in my life and the great thing is being able to work on these areas together. Secondly, knowing that it’s not a bad thing to start all over!

    • Kay Caton says:

      Thanks for sharing, Trudie! I’m sorry to hear you’re anxiety has heightened since the pandemic and you still struggle occasionally today, but it definitely gets easier once you discover what works for you <3 Working together with others, whether close friends/family or even strangers you chat to online, really does do wonders! x

      • Trudie says:

        Hi Kay, my anxiety has improved over time for which I am grateful. Online chatting during lockdown and now seeing as many people as possible in person really does help! Also I find that taking time out to go on walks and meditate also helps! x

  • I really like this post. It shows that even when we experience something negative (like anxiety) something good can come from it. I agree with avoidance being the enemy. I’ve struggled with driving anxiety for the last year to the point where I couldn’t even drive over a bridge. It’s not gone away but I can now drive over *some* bridges haha it’s so important to not avoid things if possible!

    • Kay Caton says:

      I can understand the driving anxiety. I can’t relate to the bridges part, but for me it’s being stuck in standstill traffic or drive thru’s – any situation when I’m in a car and can’t easily escape/pull over/drive away when I feel I need a moment! x

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.