Shortly after signing up for this website, I stumbled across information on the idea of there being secondary gains (and losses, and according to one website) the associated with my anxiety and depression. Secondary gains  are the oft unintended but alluring side benefits of NOT getting better. For me, the secondary gains for my anxiety include having an excuse to not do something I didnt want to do in the first place for non-anxiety related reasons , garnering sympathy, validation and compassion,  and being able to justify my lack of progress in my career, marriage and life in general.  In effecte  i have learned to manufacture anxiety in certain situations because I  benefit from it somehow.

This is both a damning and freeing realization; damning  because now that I am aware of it, it is no longer possible to pretend that I don’t have any control,  because clearly I can “manufacture”  anxiety to get out of things i dont want to do and freeing because if this was learned it can be unlearned.

I do suspect that unlearning will be a difficult road though, because it will require a taking on an unprecedented  degree of ownership over my life.  Its easier to wear this uncomfortable but familiar blanket of anxiety than it is to try to be comfortable with the unfamiliar but i am tired of living like this so i figure I will give it a shot.

(As a sidenote, i am a little concerned that i am going to get shit for this or that people are going to be mad that i would suggest,  even if only for myself, that anxiety and depression can become self-serving  and as such, self-perpetuating .  It feels blasphemous almost to go so far asato even suggest such a thing.  I suppose i will find out if my concerns are valid after i poke the publish button.)

2 Comments
  1. HereIgoAgain 2 years ago

    This is a valid point, and one that I did consider. However, for me personally, I feel the secondary gain is part of the disease and something else that has to be fought to overcome. I think the greater benefit would come from overcoming that need as well.

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  2. bridgie101 2 years ago

    A surprise I gave myself in life in my forties was to lose all choice in the matter. I had to do all those things that terrified me. I lived outside my comfort zone for a number of years, and I would have anxiety so bad at work sometimes it would just about make my bowels move. I always made it to the loo, but just trying to describe the extremity of the anxiety.

    Well guess what. My comfort zone shifted. It took a few years. It has taken all up about seven years. I am now confident, relaxed, mostly unafraid. I get situations where I think I will get a panic attack, and I don’t. I think I will obsess, and I don’t. Something has changed.

    I think a lot of our fear can be ‘manufactured’ but by manufactured I mean it’s nurture, not nature. And we can outgrow it, and fight it off, and un-self repress, which a lot of it is about. Having a morality that’s too small for our lives. Having an attitude about what is acceptable behaviour, that means we are not compassionate to ourselves, or others sometimes. Getting a bigger point of view, becoming less moralising, pushing ourselves and others less. Letting ourselves take time to unwind.

    And interacting. Always interacting. It’s crippling to an anxiety sufferer, but it really does wear away and leave you in the end, getting on with people really well and having a happy life.

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