Facing Fears and Moving Forward

fearFacing my fears can seem really daunting sometimes. That cautious inner voice, the sweaty palms and the flood of adrenaline once had a role in keeping me safe. However these reactions have now become a hindrance to a smooth transition forward. The inner voice is the most annoying culprit these days. I’m hoping if I keep burning its soapbox and cutting off its audience, it’ll go back to where ever it came from.

Fears are the creation of our thoughts. So surely if we are strong of mind, we can live without fear? Logically that sounds more than reasonable, does it not? I think so, and I consider myself a pretty logical kinda person. Thoughts can be pretty powerful though. They seem to permeate the body, setting adrenaline flowing and the heart to beat faster. Shaking hands, nausea, cold sweats, and a dry mouth quickly follow. Now the body’s freaking out, the fearful thoughts amp up, in absolute drama heaven! At this point one of two things will happen:

• my Virgo side will come out and I’ll retreat, crying, or

• my Leo side will come out and I’ll get this shit sorted.

Naturally the second course of action feels so much more proactive, but they both have purpose.

Raising Jessie over the last seven years has spiked my interest in psychology and what makes us tick. I’ve found I have a much greater capacity for acceptance and tolerance of myself when I understand why I work the way I do. It doesn’t ever justify anything, but I can only change what I comprehend. I was first diagnosed with depression and PTSD in 1995. I didn’t take prescribed medication until I was diagnosed again in early 2003, and then again in fear2015. I’d written the words on forms and things, said the words many times no doubt, and seen various counsellors over the years, but didn’t ever actually look into depression or PTSD in regards to myself.

I don’t recover well from hurtful or unjust words or situations. Buddha’s story about the angry man is in my mind now, but its theory isn’t always easy to practise! That saying “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, hasn’t applied to me as yet. I interpret that line to mean that we gain resilience after going through tough or traumatic situations. Am I wrong in my interpretation? Instead fear can set in, disguised by various emotions and reactions. When the stressors feel to be dominating or numerous, my resilience drops dramatically. If the situation involves broken trust, my brain becomes the most frantic as secure boundaries are demolished in an instant.

Some days I’m better off keeping to myself, but the time always comes when we all must make a choice – succumb to fear which gives it more and more power, or push through and empower ourselves. I think moving forward requires permission to self to forgive our shortcomings and be kind to our multi-faceted selves. I need to work on these things! Labelling ourselves as one thing is so short sighted, especially when that label isn’t flattering.

As a beautiful friend said to me yesterday, “even while depressed or negative we are 100 other things – most of them fucking wonderful.”



Health Over Habit Would Seem The Easy Choice

healthI was going to start by saying that none of us choose to be unhealthy. But I guess by the choices we make, some of us do. I don’t think I stopped for a second and thought ‘do I choose current and future health or to suffer from the current and long term effects of this?’ However, they were still  choices I made. Having known the risks for so long now, it can’t be anything else!

I had my first choke on a cigarette when I was 8. It wasn’t enjoyable. At that age I had the brains and the peer support to not do that again. But then came adolescence. The brains went, and I persisted with the choking and spluttering until I was smoking. There was no peer pressure – some of the boys smoked but none of the girls in my group did.

healthMy health wasn’t something I considered when I was younger. I guess I’ve always had it, so didn’t respect its value. I’ve had a head in the sand belief that I’ll always be okay. Despite signs showing the contrary. I advocate going to the doctor asap. Don’t let things get worse. Yet it took me four months to have a chest x-ray done. And this persistent cough was probably around for that long before I got the referral. But better late than never, x-ray – tick.

Results in, the medical centre called to make an appointment, nothing urgent. Nothing urgent. What a relief! So I decided my cough was nothing and I was healthy. It was two weeks before I went in.

Because of the frame of mind I had previously put myself in, the diagnosis really shocked me! My doctor read out the specialists letter and explained what it meant. Stage 1 COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), emphysema. Emphysema is a frightening word – its meaning even more so. To further motivate me to quit smoking, he showed me the x-rays. My lungs were transparent which they shouldn’t be. That means the lung walls are damaged and very thin. The diaphragm is meant to be curved, which helps expel air from the lungs. Under my left lung it was flat. Under my right it was close to it.

The tears were rolling down my cheeks the whole time and I’d been given the healthbox of tissues. Granted I was running on 4 hours sleep and had been at the police station prior after a sickening event the night before. But still, I knew something wasn’t right, and I’ve had people telling me for ages to stop smoking. My pharmacist has even given me nicotine patches for free, but I’ve chosen to keep up the habit. So crying like a two year old who’s just realised they rooly trooly can’t have everything they want, just doesn’t fly. After 33 years of filling my lungs toxic chemicals, this news shouldn’t have been surprising. Time to put my big girl britches on, think about how much I actually like breathing, and stop fucking smoking!

Now that I have a health issue that affects a vital organ, it makes the decision to choose health over habit very easy. If only ceasing that habit was just as easy! The patches are in use and I have a script for Champix. It’s not just about the nicotine addiction – as I’m using patches, that’s the breezy part of it for me. All the other reasons I smoke is what I’m struggling with. But as long as I’m persistent in creating other “go to’s” I know I can kick it.

What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself  – Abraham Maslow



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