Anxiety – my greatest ally in life

Jenna Keane
By Jenna Keane
Aspiring author, freelance journalist, lifestyle blogger. I believe that mental health needs to be perceived as being part of who we are as human beings. It is part of our all our lives - not something that we should be ashamed of, or something that we should fear. Once I learned to accept that for myself, I began using it as a tool for positive change. You can follow my journey at facebook.com/Jenasjournal

Anxiety: It’s all about perspective.

My anxiety made me quit my job. Most people will perceive this as a negative statement. Reactions such as “The poor girl, that’s awful” come to mind. When we think of anxiety, we think of it being something negative. In my life, for the most part, it is something completely positive.

“Jenna, I have to hand it to you, you don’t hang around. If you’re unhappy, you’ll change it” – that’s what my Dad said to me when I told him I was quitting my job, again.

24 hours later, sitting across from him at the kitchen table, having actually quit my job, he wasn’t as positive. “What will you do? Do you have another job lined up? How will you survive? Are you ever going to find something you like?

Of course, he eventually calmed down – he was just, worried.

Worry is a funny thing. It does funny things to people.

It can make them stay in jobs that they hate. This is all because of the ‘What if’s?’ – The fear.

Fear, worry and anxiety – all branches growing on the same tree (the tree we have all learned to hate and would now like to chop down).

But, it’s all about perspective.

I quit my job because I was absolutely incapable of sitting at a desk, answering a phone and replying to emails. Now, again, it’s all about perspective. I’m not saying I was incapable of the actual doing of the job. I was more than capable. I was actually really good at it. But inside, I was drowning – much like the way I would drown in a bottle of wine each weekend (and some (most) evenings).

It didn’t make me happy.

Because I wasn’t happy (and continued to pretend I was) my body started to react. Hello, Anxiety. Nice to meet you. Every day that I had to face my office, my anxiety was right there, beside me in the bed, grinning at me, rolling it’s eyes, being all like “I dare you to ignore me for another day” – always threatening me with the possibility of a panic attack.

Why? Because it cared about my wellbeing. It wanted me to stop and reassess my life. It was begging me to start exercising, to stick to a healthy diet, to do what makes me happy, to get my ass to therapy and start figuring stuff out. And the more I ignored it, the worse it became.

I believe my anxiety is my ally in life. It prompts me to change the things that cause me to be anything less than happy. These days, whenever I start searching for a new career, a new job, a new college course or volunteer position, my anxiety jumps straight in and demands that I refocus. It demands that I calm down and just go with the flow.

It reminds me that writing is my happy place, and that working in an office is not. Whenever I decide that today is going to be a Netflix and eat chocolate day, it’s there, sitting beside me and demanding that I go for a walk. Whenever I’m feeling a little lonely, and thinking I should text that ex from back in the day, it’s there, jumping out of my phone screen and slapping me in the face.

Of course, I didn’t always see it this way. And it wasn’t always this way. My anxiety has mortified me more times than I can count. Think sweating (profusely) in a public place (not after exercising, no) Think head in hands in the toilet at work. Think pulling in on the motorway and calling an ambulance – because you genuinely believe you are having a heart attack, at 25 years of age. My anxiety has made me make awful decisions – one after the other, on a complete rotation.

But the sweating was coming from my insecurities. The head in my hands was complete depletion at work. The pulling in on the motorway and having a panic attack was because I was physically sick, and refused to slow down. The awful decisions kept being made because I kept running away from what I really wanted – scared that it wasn’t the right thing, fearing that I was incapable of doing the ‘normal’ thing.

So what will I do now? Now that I’m jobless. I genuinely don’t know. And for the first time ever, I don’t really care. I’m taking it day by day, piece by piece, with my anxiety sitting right beside me – as calm as I have ever seen it. And this is because I’ve slowed down and I’m finally taking care of myself. I’ve finally stopped trying to achieve that corporate status, that high paid position, that 9 to 5 day that I’ve tried to convince myself that I’ve wanted for too long.

And what do I actually want? Who knows! But what’s the point in worrying about it anyway?

You can follow Jenna’s journey at facebook.com/Jenasjournal

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