Anxiety is my superpower.

I opened my computer the other day to check something and somehow found myself on Facebook (how does that happen?).

I followed a link someone had posted to the page of a blogger I have long admired but rarely read (not sure why): Glennon Doyle Melton (of Momastery).

I scrolled down, glancing at the small amount of text she had prefixed her latest blog posts with, until one stopped me in my tracks.

This is what I read;

‘Yes, I’ve got these conditions—anxiety, depression, addiction—and they almost killed me. But they are also my superpowers. I’m the canary in the mine and you need my sensitivity because I can smell toxins in the air…’

Without reading the post in full, I slammed my laptop shut.

I shuddered, consumed with fear, with doubt.

I couldn’t read another word.

It was too close to home.

If you replaced the word ‘addiction’ with the phrase ‘addiction to self-salvation projects’, or ‘addiction to overwhelming and misplaced responsibility’ it could be me.

Suddenly the words I put on the page and sent out into the ether felt ridiculous.

They felt small and insignificant. They felt inconsequential and unnecessary.

Glennon’s way with words and ability to connect made me feel foolish, as though I was a poor copy. I wanted to shut my blog down and post one final statement, as a parting gift:

For all further support and encouragement – see Momastery

I felt like an imposter, a fraud. As though my stories were too small and too personal. That my contribution was not needed.

What right did I have to be setting myself up as any kind of voice in this arena? I don’t know enough. I haven’t read the right books and my life is messy. I certainly don’t have all the answers figured out.


Alongside these feelings of self doubt, one other thing remained.

A word burnt into my retina remaining long after the laptop was closed.


Anxiety is a part of me. I don’t know how long it will be for. Maybe forever. Maybe not. But it is one of the things that makes me unique, that gives me insight, that alerts me to potential harm, that softens me to other’s pain, that allows me to see emotional truth quicker than some others.

And, I am beginning to realise, it is my superpower.

I have learnt to identify with my pain, to see it as a path to healing and understanding. I have accepted my weakness and realised that my experiences can be helpful to other people.

But, superpower?  This is another league. Another level.

And the more I have thought about it, the more the word has rolled around on my tongue, the idea rattled around in my head, (whisper it)… the more it has begun to feel like the truth.

Maybe this idea was a bit too hot to touch when I read it in Glennon’s post, a bit too bright to look at. Maybe, alongside the self-doubt, this white hot truth caused me to look away, to shield my eyes from the reality.

But, my anxiety is my superpower.

Like any superpower it can be destructive and I have known many, many of those moments, when this force threatens to swallow me whole, to destroy the very essence of who I am.

But like any superhero, the more I take this knowledge, these experiences, and use them for the benefit of us all, the more I see the force for good it can be.

My vulnerability is transforming my anxiety into a superpower.

My writing, and talking, and witnessing, and sharing, converts the power-sapping kyptonite of my anxiety into a force to be reckoned with.


So I’m going to keep on writing, despite the doubt and fear, and despite the feeling of being an imposter, because superheroes need to use their powers otherwise they end up fat and disillusioned like Mr Incredible.

I will write when I feel inspired and try to write when I don’t. I will write as honestly as I can. I will write because it makes me feel alive.

I will write pointing to the potential dangers and hazards ahead. I will write to shout about the unhelpful ways of living that have made me ill. I will write because “me too” is a powerful phrase.

I will write even though someone else can do it better. Even though someone else has thousands more followers than me. Even though my offering feels paltry alongside theirs.

I will continue to write. To sing like the canary in the mine. Because, anxiety is my superpower and I’m going to use it.

If you enjoyed this blog post why not subscribe to my mailing list? (no spam or nonsense – ever, promise!).

Subscribe today and receive a week long meditation, direct to your inbox, a series to bring help and hope.

Sign up today and start tomorrow with Seven days of Hope.

  • Lynda Mullin
    Posted at 23:27h, 22 August Reply

    Bless you, my sister. You are both sensitive and powerful and I honour you for your willingness to take your vulnerabilities and turn them into eloquent encouraging words for the benefit of others. Who knows but someone may be turned back from the brink by reading them.

  • Shaena
    Posted at 07:02h, 23 August Reply

    Eli, I loved this. Looking at my depression in this way really changes things. It makes me less scared and more proud. Thank you for your words and honesty…xx

  • lizziedoodles
    Posted at 11:44h, 23 August Reply

    Please keep singing! We need your voice, it matters. Just because it isn’t the loudest or most followed doesn’t mean that we don’t listen for it. My voice is even smaller, and even further back in the choir, but all together we can make a sound that moves people, and your voice helps me.

  • lizziedoodles
    Posted at 12:31h, 23 August Reply

    Please keep singing, we need your voice and your words matter! I am an even smaller voice, even further back in the choir, but all singing together can create a sound that uplifts people and makes us feel better in the process.

  • michael0715
    Posted at 22:00h, 25 August Reply

    It’s interesting that you see your anxiety as a power, and I can appreciate the comparison but in my own experiences I struggle to see my social anxiety as anything other than a burden. I literally can’t build relationships, or communicate the way I’d like. I never realize my potential as my anxiety stops me even getting started. Far from being a force to be reckoned with I wake up every day a nervous wreck, and after a day’s work interacting with other people I am mentally exhausted.
    I don’t want to discourage you from writing, quite the opposite. In fact I’d love to hear more of your perspective on this.

    • thehippochronicles
      Posted at 22:14h, 25 August Reply

      Michael I absolutely know how you feel. I have had many, many times like that. Times when I could barely leave the house, when I struggled to eat or do anything really. This, if I could continue the analogy, would be when I feel the anxiety is winning, when it is sapping me of any strength- like kryptonite! I have put lots of strategies in place to get to a place of relative health and it is only from this place that I can see the power and insights it gives me. Unfortunately the two aren’t mutually exclusive. I had a rough night last night but am feeling good again today. We are an unusual lot who are able to use our weakness as our greatest strength. And sometimes the strongest, wisest thing to do is to look after yourself and get the help you need (for me the help has been chemical, psychological, and environmental). Look after yourself, even if you don’t feel it, you are doing great- I know this because I know how hard it is! X

  • Azeline Collins
    Posted at 07:58h, 26 August Reply

    “…Us too.”
    All our Expert by Experience Tutors at Oxfordshire Recovery College are using their mental health problems as superpowers, I am pleased to say. Of course, we’re not all experts at being superheroes yet but we definitely keep practising and encourage our students to embrace their superpower too – because who would want to become ‘fat and disillusioned like Mr Incredible’?..

    Thank you so much Elli for your account. It was powerful to read and resonated very true. So much so that we would very much like you to make 22nd Aug a National Mental Health Superpowers Day..! What do you say?

    Keep singing and please do get in touch if you ever happen to be in Oxfordshire. We would love to welcome you and introduce our recovery college team to you.

    Best wishes,

    • thehippochronicles
      Posted at 08:59h, 26 August Reply

      Thanks Azeline, what a great comment. I love the idea of a National Mental Health Superpowers Day. Thank you! X

  • Abby Buter
    Posted at 00:43h, 27 August Reply

    I loved this! Thanks so much for sharing. Glennon’s idea of anxiety being her superpower has meant a lot to me and helped re-shape the narrative of anxiety that I was telling myself. So glad I found you through hope*writers. I really related to everything you said here!

  • Issy Bee
    Posted at 18:57h, 02 September Reply

    I loved this. Your line ‘I will write because “me too” is a powerful phrase’ is so brilliant and meaningful for me. Thank you! Keep writing! (From a fellow writer and sufferer) x

  • Amber
    Posted at 12:15h, 03 May Reply

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Vulnerability. Humility. Perseverance. You have described me and inspired me in this piece.

    • ElliJohnson
      Posted at 12:41h, 03 May Reply

      Thanks Amber. xx

  • Nicole
    Posted at 02:23h, 19 January Reply

    Wow! What a powerful way to look at your anxiety. I’ve always looked at my anxiety as a disability, something that holds me back. But changing my perspective and looking at it as an advantage could make all the difference.

Post A Comment