Thursday 15 March 2018

Anxiety is Addictive

By Sarah Fader

In a funny way, anxiety can be addictive. It’s something about that rush, that feeling that you are high on adrenaline even if it’s a negative feeling. You get used to running on anxiety autopilot and you want to keep that ship going.

You are accustomed to panicking; you leave things to the last minute so that you can get that energy rush in order to make it happen faster. That's the weird thing about mental illness, it can work for you instead of against you and it's unpredictable when it will do that. Being aware and talking about what you're dealing with is essential to coping with mental health issues.

Back to anxiety; when I was in college I used to wait until the last minute to do my term papers because I felt like that adrenaline was something that was going to help me. Now I know that it’s not necessarily helpful but actually makes me more anxious and can harm my mental health.

Still, there is this addictive quality to panic. Even though legitimate panic attacks are an awful feeling and we don’t want to feel them if possible, there is something to be said for anxiety being a motivator to achieve things. Anxiety is excess energy and even though it is sometimes extremely unpleasant it can push us the point of completion of tasks.

There are other times when anxiety does not help us get things done but rather furthers your fear of your self and anxiety, to begin with.

I’m trying to catch myself when I am procrastinating doing a task that I don’t want to do. It’s a difficult pattern to break but I know that in the end even with anxiety feeling addictive it’s not worth that pain and anguish I feel when I’m trying so desperately to finish something at the last minute.

So what about you? Do you leave things to the last minute because you’re so used to doing them that way or do you plan and not given to the addictive quality of anxiety? If you do, think about changing this and see if it helps you feel a little bit better.

About the Author

Sarah Fader is the CEO and Founder of Stigma Fighters, a non-profit organization that encourages individuals with mental illness to share their personal stories. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Quartz, Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, HuffPost Live, and Good Day New York.

Sarah is a native New Yorker who enjoys naps, talking to strangers, and caring for her two small humans and two average-sized cats. Like six million other Americans, Sarah lives with panic disorder. Through Stigma Fighters, Sarah hopes to change the world, one mental health stigma at a time.


1 comment:

  1. Anxiety/panic attacks are an interesting state of mind. The overproduction of adrenaline used to make me sometimes want to be in a football match during one. I've had one or two while at the gym and lifting was easier, I could go further and stayed longer. If only they weren't so horrible north of the time.

    Educational article Sarah, thanks. I'd love to contribute to Stigma Fighters and share some of my story, perhaps write an article for you. I've got lots to say about my experiences with mental illness and recovery, I have also recovered from anxiety and panic attacks.

    Please take a quick look at my website I have made to support my book about my experiences with mental illness and recovery, it has book extracts, but also articles I have had published online with other websites. It would be nice if you thought my writing style and ethos and all that might be appropriate for Stigma Fighters. I'm very much about sharing and destigmatising!