Is there light at the end of the tunnel for the overly anxious?
By Ben

A lifetime of being a chronic worrier and overly anxious has been a significant hindrance on my progression.  It’s why I’ve spent the last twenty years doing soul-destroying warehouse jobs for an easy wage.  It’s taken me till my mid thirties to start thinking about doing something genuinely worthwhile with my life.  But now, I’ve been going to college for the last three years.  I’m starting a degree in counselling and psychotherapy next month, with a view to perhaps a career in CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).  I’m going to learn the academic requirements of what I feel I know a lot about already.

Overly Anxious, OCD and Depression

As well as a lifetime of being overly anxious, I do feel I’ve had issues with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and depression as well.  I feel the OCD may have branched out from the extreme anxiety, and the occasional bouts of depression may have been the net result of the over-worrying nullifying the few pleasures I have in life.  During a low period in my mid twenties, I told my dad, whom I’ve only ever visited a few times a year, that I felt depressed.  He said to be careful labeling myself as such, because that can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I think there is some truth in that, but, on the other hand, it can just be an admission that I need help, which is surely a healthy attitude.  For example, as I’ve explained previously, my diagnosis for GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder) didn’t come until my mid thirties, and since that diagnosis last year, I feel I have made progressive steps towards curbing the illness.  I know this can be a self destructive thing to say, but had I realised what I was suffering with at a much younger age, then I may have started making positive steps at that point, and I may have realised that binge drinking was only making me worse.

I do wonder if most people have mental illness, at least at some level

For me, the definition is the repetition.  To use a really poor metaphor, if you don’t cross that road because your mind has told you to be careful, then that’s fine.  But if your mind is telling you to never cross that road or is always worrying about crossing that road, then that’s something else entirely.  One needs a label in the case of mental illness in order to find some kind of resolution, I guess.  Although I don’t think it’s a resolution in most cases, but more of a revolution, and by that I mean a realignment of one’s perception.

I strongly feel that a lot of our mental illnesses are an outcome of living life guided by our primal urges, such as desire, fear, greed and selfishness.  These traits unite us all and come very easily to our psyche, but they are not the only ones we have.  We also have traits that come less easily, like love, empathy and selflessness.  Over the last year, I have tried to live my life focusing on the latter and resisting the former.  It has not been easy, because the former is addictive and the latter is not, but I have noticed an improvement with my mental health and my general outlook on life.

I didn’t realise that mental illness becomes an addiction in itself

Furthermore, I didn’t realise that mental illness becomes an addiction in itself.  By addiction, I mean that we form a bond with the mental illness.  We see it as a part of who we are, and can’t imagine a life outside of it, as it’s now become a comfortable thing in our lives that can be relied upon.  We, as humans, have an innate requirement to form bonds, so I would suggest to anyone reading this to try and form healthy bonds instead, such as a healthy relationship or friendship, or to a project or task you feel is worthwhile.  Learning something new or going back to college or university can be very helpful, and seek a career you’d feel passionate about.

We need healthy bonds

As far as the people in your life are concerned, it’s not about the quantity, but the quality.  You could have your parents, siblings or friends around you, but if you’re not close with any of them, then that’s a problem.  We need the healthy bond a good relationship or friendship would bring.  Try not to bond with someone or something which you know deep down will be ultimately self destructive.  Being happy, or happier, takes some effort and possible discomfort, but is ultimately rewarding. Good luck.

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