Edit: This post needs more examples and concrete information on what the realistic consequences are in practice in the 2nd model presented below. I haven’t been in a highly anxious state for a while now so it may take me a while to tease that out of my own brain and then compare notes with others. Until then, maybe kinda sorta please just trust me on this one?
I have a small amount of experience with anxiety and have spoken to lots of friends about the concepts involved. This portion of ideas about anxiety aren’t too common and are worth being aware of for people who have lots of anxiety in their life through anxiety disorders or other sources.
The model for anxiety that I think a lot of people with mental health issues operate under is something like the one below. We can call this Model 1.
Model 1 shows that as the amount of anxiety increases, the well-being of the person drops very quickly. The part of this model that I want you to pay attention to is the top left portion near the origin.
Under Model 1 people imagine that so long as there is only a sliver of anxiety in their system that they should be happy that things are not much worse. They try to tolerate it and don’t work too hard to remove that last sliver because they understand how terrible the real depths of the anxiety can get and that they are already doing “good” (for some value of good). One unit of anxiety is only something like -1 wellness on this model. That’s why I disagree with it.
A more realistic model for anxiety looks more like Model 2 below. A person’s wellbeing and ability to operate healthily has an large initial drop once only a sliver of anxiety has been introduced into their system. Even tiny amounts of constant anxiety can compromise a person’s ability to operate healthily, interact with others, and think as clearly as possible.
A person who is at 1 unit of anxiety will think that they are doing well compared to where they were when trying to function at 10 units of anxiety, but they miss the point that there are actual very massive benefits for moving from 1 unit back down to 0 units.
If you or anyone you know has lots of anxiety in their life through an anxiety disorder or something else, then I would strongly encourage you to ensure that the level of anxiety there is taken all the way down to zero and not left at just a sliver.
Note: If you have issues with anxiety or an anxiety disorder, then I strongly suggest you both check out this link and contact a medical professional for help with your problem. There are likely more and much better solutions available than you realize.