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People With Anxiety Are Hiding These 24 Strengths

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We often focus on the pitfalls of struggling with anxiety — the racing heart, the worry, the spiraling thoughts and the doubt and uncertainty that seem to hover over us like a grey cloud. But sometimes, it can be important to search for the silver lining within the struggle; to find a new perspective that might make that cloud a little less daunting. Because sometimes our greatest struggles can also be our greatest strengths.

That is why we asked people in our Mighty mental health community who struggle with anxiety to tell us one strength people may not realize they have because of their anxiety. After all, we cannot know the good without the bad, peace without chaos, compassion without heartache, or what it means to be resilient without hardship. And in my eyes, that is a truly beautiful part of what it means to be a living, breathing, feeling human.

And if you’re still searching for that silver lining, keep searching, we believe in you.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. “Being compassionate, empathetic and strangely determined. Everyone comments how I do a great job at work or with my daughter, and I keep thinking that I need to do more because it’s never enough. Because of this fear, I end up making giant strides forward, surpassing everyone’s expectations and getting into better positions quicker than expected.” — Cait L.

2. “My strength would be strength. I get up every day and go about my day, with most people not ever knowing I have been severely affected by my mental illness since the age of 18. Most people don’t have a clue that this is the reason I don’t work. Not because I choose to be a stay at home mom. I’m good at faking it.” — Mindy C.

3. “I’m able to notice the signs in another before they notice themselves. And I can help them calm down, often stopping a panic attack before it even starts.” — Kassy P.

4. “As a teacher, I’ve been able to get through to a lot of the students struggling with anxiety, ADHD and other disabilities because of my level of understanding and empathy. Sometimes just being able to be a positive role model makes a huge difference for them!” — Lauren S.

5. “The ability to forgive unconditionally. To be patient with people, especially children. I’m always complimented on my ability to ‘constantly’ talk to everyone, and my willingness to do a job/task to perfection, all of which I do because I struggle with anxiety.” — Brittany H.

6. “I’m great at calming myself down before presentations at university, which used to make me so nervous my hands would shake and I’d feel sick to my stomach. But now I’m usually more calm than a lot of other people in the room.” — El S.

7. “Ability to have fun. I am 30 years old, but I don’t dress or act like it most of the time. I wear my hair in funky styles, wear fun shirts, bright colors and enjoy youthful things. I do this because it makes me happy and calms me down sometimes to have these types of things.” — Aimee D.

8. “Other people’s anxiety trumps mine. I automatically can overcome almost anything when I see someone with anxiety struggling, because I know how they feel and want to alleviate the feeling.” — Kayla C.

9. “I have fantastic emergency instincts. Since I think about everything that could go wrong in any situation, I’m constantly prepared for a disaster. I know all the exits and I’m trained in CPR and first aid. This has actually saved the day on multiple occasions. I don’t have obsessive urges to think about bad things that might happen anymore, but going through them in my head in the past has helped me be more sure of myself. In fact, last month, I actually saved a squirrel that was hit by a car! He has since recovered and was released last week!” — Sarah A.

10. “I still push myself to see the brighter side of life. There is no other way to go once you’ve hit the lowest point but up.” — Isabelle R.

11. “My superpower is cutting people out of my life when they are a disturbance to my peace. I work hard to maintain my peace and don’t tolerate anyone who tries to bring chaos into my home. I also have major depressive disorder, so I also have to deal with that.” — Mary F.

12. “Having the patience to actually deal with my own anxiety. Without patience, I probably wouldn’t be here right now.” — Hayley T.

13. “I am extremely observant. I am so e extremely tapped into my surroundings that I notice things that most people don’t.” — Dianna M.

14. “I’m very in tune with other people’s feelings. I can notice a change in a instant because I had to keep up a facade for so long, so it’s easy to pick out in others. I’m also the best shoulder to cry on since I know everyone needs a good venting session once in a while.” — Leondra J.

15. “I am resilient. People don’t see the internal struggles I have on a daily basis. They don’t see me fighting just to be able to leave the house and go to work or to be social. I am resilient because I keep rising up even though my anxiety and depression tear me down.” — Jackie S.

16. “I’ve learned not to take my own thoughts too seriously, because when I’m experiencing anxiety, they have little to no basis in reality. I know my thoughts and feelings don’t determine what is real.” — Misty S.

17. “I’m a ridiculously awesome friend and girlfriend. I know that being loved simply isn’t enough to squash depression, but I want to make life easier and as comfortable as possible for whoever I love in my life until it passes. It’s not a thing that goes away because something good happened or because someone told you that you’re pretty or you’re strong. It goes away whenever it wants, for no reason at all except that your body has balanced back out and ‘this one’ is over. It strikes whenever; it has no sympathy or reason. It can last as long as it wants. And while it’s here, I’m going to make you as comfortable as possible. Because while you’re ‘in it,’ you’re a passenger until it leaves you. But I’ll try to make the scenery more enjoyable until the ride is over.” — Sarah B.

18. “My work ethic. Everyone calls me a work horse. I’m in the restaurant business so I can handle taking 13 tables while also helping in the kitchen and bussing my own tables and taking to-go orders. My anxiety helps with this because I can never just relax and take it easy. I’m so used to being scattered all over the place, so this feels like nothing to me. I see others try to do what I do and can’t.” — Kristen D.

19. “Loyalty. I care so much about my relationships, as broken as they are, and will not let the relationship fall. It hurts like hell when others leave the relationship, but I remain so invested in the relationship that it’s hard to get rid of me. I am a friend that can be counted on for almost anything, and nothing will cause me to break a relationship if it means something to me. Borderline causes my interpersonal relationships to be a little more rocky, but I try to stick through it.” — Katherine C.

20. “I’m now really amazing at talking to strangers. It still terrifies me, but I’ve built myself so many tricks and rules to follow that now I get complimented on my ability to talk to strangers and supervisors.” — Eden S.

21. “One thing I’ve noticed is that during horrible situations, I am much calmer than most people. It’s like, I worry and worry, and when a disaster hits, I go into action mode and my anxiety is gone. I find myself taking charge instead of falling apart.” — Trece D.

22. “I understand my 10-year-old daughter’s anxiety thanks to having it myself. The night before returning to school is a particular trigger for her, so last time she started panicking, I talked to her about cavemen and the fight or flight response. Rather than it escalating like it can do sometimes, she understood it was her brain playing tricks on her, so we ran her a bath and I got her a hot chocolate to calm her down. I just wish she didn’t have to go through it at all.” — Nicola G.

23. “I wake up super early in the morning due to anxiety. It comes in handy when I have to wake up early for work, and if I’m feeling well enough, I can prepare a little more.” — Victoria G.

24. “I feel like still being able to smile some days is a huge strength. Whether it’s a real smile or a fake one, it can be the hardest thing to do at times.” — Lisa M.

What would you add?

Unsplash photo via Dylan Hikes

Originally published: September 19, 2017
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