Anxiety: Symptom or Illness?

Anxiety, Symptom or Illness?

This article is inspired by the show “What if Anxiety Is a Gift & Capacity You Are Refusing?” on The Art of Dissatisfaction. The author of this article is neither a medical or mental health professional and the ideas presented here are for pondering only. If any of what you read below resonates with you, please contact Tammy for more information.

Tammy did some research on anxiety in preparation for a client and then for this show. To start her research she went straight for the dictionary where she found that a synonym for anxiety is to care. Reading further, she discovered that it is “a burdensome sense of responsibility for others” or an “implied sense of responsibility for the safety and prosperity of others.” Have we twisted caring into obligation and come out with anxiety? And that led me to consider the question: is anxiety a symptom or an illness? I also wonder if depression is the hopelessness caused by not being able to be responsible for everyone’s safety or prosperity. For now, let’s stick with our exploration of anxiety.

Healthline and many other sources describe symptoms of anxiety as, but not limited to, the following:

­    – nervousness, restlessness, or being tense

­    – feelings of danger, panic, or dread

­    – rapid heart rate

­    – rapid breathing, or hyperventilation

­    – difficulty focusing or thinking clearly about anything other than the thing you’re worried about

­    – obsessions about certain ideas.

With the idea that anxiety is an intensity of caring, it makes sense that it’s symptoms seem to relate to a fixation on whatever it is you are anxious about. So, could anxiety, as presented by these symptoms, be as basic as being a signal that we care … a lot? Could it be a symptom that we have lost our objectivity? And could the intensity be brought about by the capacity to see the whole picture in one shot rather than what is just in front of our eyes?

What is the difference between a person with anxiety and one without? Perhaps it is the level of perception of the circumstance and the amount of caring and objectivity that we attach to it.

What else is possible here? Can anxiety be a signal rather than a diagnosis to be treated? I think so! Anxiety could be a signal for many things:

­    – that there is a disconnect between what we perceive and what we see or hear

­    – that we have made judgements that the circumstances are wrong or bad and must be changed

­    – that we have lost our allowance of others to make their own choices

­    – an awareness that we care for this situation, or that it is important to us.

Have you ever noticed that you get anxious before speaking in front of an audience of potential clients or people you admire? That anxiety can simply be a signal that this is an important moment for you. This can be a very good awareness that turns up your conviction rather than assuming it’s anxiety and shutting down your brilliance. Have you noticed how often we jump in and help people before being asked? (or is that just me) We assume that they need help or that something must be changed. Could it be that our intense caring is actually not a kindness to the very people we care so much about. Our anxiety has us thrust our “doing” into their lives and takes away their choice? WOW! This is a brain twister indeed!

Did you know that we can care for others and not have to do anything about their lives and choices?

It seems most likely now that anxiety is an actual malfunction of caring. Anxiety takes us further away from being effective and kind to those we care most deeply for. And if we are often anxious, is it just a habit now? Is there a way to break the habit of dropping into obsession and recognize the symptoms as signals that we’ve lost our objectivity? Likely there is! Just like committing to eating well or walking daily, caring and being in allowance can become a lifestyle that dissolves those old habits. We can begin by catching the moment we notice anxiety bubbling up, take a moment to become aware of what’s happening and choose your next step accordingly.

Listen to the show that inspired this article here.

Find all The Art of Dissatisfaction shows here.

Written by Carol Glover.