Thursday, December 3, 2015

Anxiety Makes Good Things Feel Great

Silver lining in a cloud
Silver lining, courtesy of ImUnicke
If you suffer from anxiety, you probably read the title of this post and thought I was a bit nutty. It's really hard to see a silver lining when it comes to a severe anxiety disorder, such as the OCD from which I suffer. However, the silver linings are part of recovery, if you can believe it, and one of them is that you can appreciate the good so much more when you've had repetitive, terrifying emotional experiences. Hear me out.

Have you ever had a really bad cold, the kind that makes it hard to breathe or even think? You take medicine and it alleviates some of the pressure, but you don't take a really satisfying breath for days or maybe even weeks. Then one day, you are finally able to breathe really clearly again. It's so satisfying that you swear you didn't even feel that good before you got sick. Because you felt like sh*t for so long, something as simple as breathing felt awesome. That's how I feel when I come out of anxiety or depression.

When you're anxious, you can't see anything good. Life is a fog of scary physical symptoms and even scarier intrusive thoughts. Alternatively, if you suffer from depression, you are tired and unable to enjoy anything. You're lucky if you care enough to brush your teeth and put on pants that have a zipper. You fight through it because that's the only way to keep living. Then one day, you wake up and you're able to think a positive thought or two. If you're like me, those positive thoughts are like that deep breath after a severe cold. I might not notice them for long. They might not change my life, but they feel awesome. As I start to get even better, I am so happy about little things. It takes awhile for me to get back to the big things, like traveling long distances, but the little things, such as feeling comfortable around my family, are huge accomplishments and feel like winning the lottery.

Try paying attention to the good feelings you experience as you come out of the fog of mental illness. You might notice an extra shine to them, a silver lining, if you will.