Today, let’s talk about the “Upside to my Anxiety.”
Most of us are fully aware of the downside of Anxiety and Depression. I think we can sum it up by saying that mental health issues create a barrier to living a healthy, happy, balanced and progressive life. But, I think it’s important to focus on a peculiar benefit of my Anxiety. What I’m referring to is the notable increase in creative expression.
When you are living with an untreated anxiety disorder or depression, after a while, you start to feel a bit like a survivor. In fact, this survivor mentality is what keeps us going. It’s the fighter within that is searching for a working solution – against all the odds. When we first start dealing with anxiety and depression, we are desperately looking for a coping mechanism that actually works. In the years before I was fully introduced to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, I noticed that the only thing that would really help reduce my anxiety levels was to immerse myself in somethings that could truly distract my mind. And, soon, I noticed that my natural survival response was to distract myself with a creative project. This didn’t happen because I felt particularly inspired to create. In fact, the creative decisions were often somewhat random, spontaneous, emergency responses. My search for relief would manifest itself as a search for new forms of creative expression. The amount of mental focus that was required by the creative process became my goto distraction because it did a great job of occupying the space that my distorted mind would automatically fill with negativity.
Music, Art, Writing, language learning and even simple things, like rearranging my personal space, seemed to make my anxiety, momentarily, subside. Why did this work so well? Well, I believe that these activities created a feeling of control and order that I felt was lacking when I was in the depths of an anxious or depressed episode.
Overall, My experience with anxiety and depression has taught me that one the best things that one can do when they are stuck is, do anything creative in place of doing nothing. In fact, doing nothing can be dangerous because it gets you nowhere and it leaves just enough empty space for your distorted mind to fill with negativity.
While I’m grateful that I was able to improve my situation by doing creative things, I want to remind you that, the real way to overcome anxiety and depression is to seek out help from professionals, such as your General Practitioner, a Psychologist or a Psychiatrists, that can help you find the tools that work best for you. Sometimes it takes a little time to find the perfect set of tools, but keep trying. You will find them if you just keep at it.
In the mean time, try doing something creative when your mind starts directing you towards negativity. You will be amazed by the kinds of things you can do.
I first talked about “The upside to Anxiety” on 12/11/14:
In the above video, I give an example of the kind of creativity that came from dealing with Anxiety and Depression. Below is one of the songs that I wrote in 2000.
Here is another example of one of my creative distractions. I created a “Tilted Nature” photography series. The idea was to shoot nature at a tilt in order to emphasize that we need to look at everyday things from a different perspective.