My journey with anxiety was one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced. It was lonely, painful, soul-destroying and exhausting. It took me years to see my worth, rebuild my confidence, manage my anxiety and get to a point where I hand-on-heart believe my anxiety was a gift.
If you had told me this five years ago - that anxiety was a gift - I never would have believed you.
The conversation would have gone something like this:
Annoying, but well-meaning person: Hey Jade, did you know your anxiety is actually a gift? In fact, it’s given you countless gifts. Honestly, it’s probably one of the best things that’s ever happened to you.
Past Jade: Um, are you fucking kidding me? This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. I hate my anxiety. I hate it! It’s the one thing that has stopped me from being happy and from making new friends and from being me! I HATE IT.
It’s true, five years ago - I hated it. I honestly believed my anxiety was the root cause of all my problems. It took me a few more years to realise my anxiety was only a SYMPTOM of all my problems. Let that sink in for a moment. (Gosh I wish I could tell 20-year-old Jade that!)
My perspective on anxiety has changed a lot over the years, and now that I know what I know - I want to share it. Despite the fear, I want to share what I’ve learnt because I don’t want you to struggle with anxiety for as long as I did. I don’t want you to fear it, to be ashamed of it. I want you to work with it. To see it as an ally; a powerful reminder from your body that something in your life needs your attention. But I’ll share more about that later!
In the meantime, here are five gifts anxiety has given me:
1. It was my wake-up call and the beginning of my spiritual journey
My anxiety is how I discovered meditation, journalling, crystals, dance, oracle cards and a love of nature. Anxiety led me to so many life-changing books and incredible teachers. The pain, shame and struggle I experienced was the wakeup call I needed to change my life; to get my butt into gear. I wasn’t living a life that was in alignment with who I was and since that wake up call, I’ve been doing my best to listen to my heart and to show up for myself and my dreams! I’m not here to live up to the expectations of my parents or to be who other people want me to be. I’m here to live life on my terms. I’m here to live a life that I love.
2. It taught me to own my story
I kept my anxiety a secret for almost 8 years. I didn’t tell ANYONE other than the healers I was visiting. I kept telling myself no-one needed to know. I did all of the things I could think of to manage my anxiety. I drank the green juices, meditated, balanced my chakras, started exercising, got more sleep, read all the books...But this fear of people finding out about my anxiety, was causing my damn anxiety! And as much as I didn’t want to do it - there came a point where I had to bite the bullet and come clean. Over the space of a year I told almost every single person in my life. I shared my anxiety story with a room full of strangers at a Toastmaster’s meeting. Then I told my best friend, my husband, my family, and then my workmates, and then I did a post on Facebook…And each time, my heart would feel like it would jump out of my chest, and I could barely get my words out. It wasn’t perfect and I didn’t always say everything I wanted to say - but I was honest, I was sharing my truth and I was fucking owning my story. In doing so, I was telling the world and most importantly myself - that I’m not ashamed of who I am. I’m so proud of the courageous woman I’ve become.
3. Anxiety gives you a unique skill set
Anxiety has given me incredible self-awareness, but also a stronger awareness of the people around me. I can better feel and read the energy of another person. I have increased empathy. I’m kinder and more compassionate than my younger self. I’m a better listener - and listening is one of the greatest gifts you can give another person! Anxiety has also taught me vulnerability, resilience and bravery.
4. Anxiety IS my inner GPS
Anxiety put a spotlight on all the things that weren’t working in life; all the things I needed to address. Such as the sugary processed food I was eating, my lack of exercise and all the limiting beliefs I had about myself. In the same way, it guided me to new dreams, interests, life lessons, life-long friends and new opportunities. Anxiety is my inner GPS; alerting me to potential obstacles on my path, but ultimately leading me in the right direction - leading me home.
You know that quote - “If you know me based on who I was a year ago, you don't know me at all.” That’s what my journey with anxiety has been like. My growth game is strong as fuck.
5. Deeper connection
The vulnerability of sharing my story has opened the doors for deeper conversation. Almost every time I’ve mentioned my experience with anxiety, I hear: “Thank you for sharing this. I can relate to this. I’ve got anxiety too.” or “My son is struggling with it right now” or “my workmate has anxiety”. Our vulnerability connects us. Talking about our pain, struggles and lessons - it binds us. It brings us together like nothing else. It’s ironic because in the beginning, my anxiety left me feeling so isolated and alone, and now it is the bridge that has brought me closer to myself and the people around me.
I hope these gifts inspire you to see anxiety in a new light. In our society we demonise it. We’re taught it’s something we need to hide, that if we experience it - we’re less than. In my personal experience, it’s simply been a symptom of something I’m hiding, neglecting or ignoring.
You know I love a good journalling session! So please, if you’d like to dive deeper - grab your journal and pen and take some time out to answer these questions:
Why is anxiety showing up?
What does my body / inner wisdom want me to know?
What do I need to do to love, care and support myself right now?
What gifts has anxiety given you?
No matter where you are on your journey - I’m sending you so much love!
Let me know below if you can relate to this blog post. Did you get any insights from the journalling prompts? I’d love love love to hear from you! xx