One of the unexpected consequences of my illness has been fear. I have lost a lot of confidence over the months of enforced inactivity. Since January I have hardly left the house except to go to hospital appointments. I have driven no more than three miles at any one time. Driving any distance at all has been terrifying.
Thankfully, after a few longer drives, my confidence has returned but I don’t think I will ever take driving for granted again. I now understand agoraphobia – from which my late mother-in-law suffered – and have a lot more sympathy for her now than I ever did in her lifetime.
Travel is another and new terror. I am about to visit a friend in Germany and am extremely nervous. What happens if my flight information does not come through by email? What happens if there is a hold-up on my journey to the airport? What happens if my friend is not there to meet me at the other end?
There is a book by Susan Jeffers called “Feel the Fear and do it Anyway.” I read it many years ago, although I can’t remember a word of it now. Perhaps I should dig it out and reread it, although I feel the title says it all.
Acknowledging our fears goes quite a long way to helping us deal with them. It’s okay to say, “I’m afraid.” Once that’s out in the open, then it’s a much more straightforward question of “Am I going to let fear stop me from doing something I really want to do?” In this case I want to see my friend and I want to visit the beautiful Bavarian town in which he lives.
The Moodscope cards have been useful to me as my flight time draws nearer. The Scared, Afraid and Anxious cards have been scoring high. This has forced me to acknowledge and face the fear, rather than pretending to myself that everything is fine. It hasn’t stopped the bad dreams of being stranded, far from home, with no phone, no wallet and no shoes. In the dream, however, I’m quite stoical about all this and decide to just walk home. I meet some friends and they give me money for the bus fare back. I’ve decided to adopt this stoical approach in real life too.
Do you have fears that stop you doing things you really want to? Our fears are real and it’s never as simple as just feeling the fear and doing it anyway. We need to validate our fears; it’s okay to have them. Acknowledging them is vital. Identifying, analysing and dissecting them can also help enormously in overcoming them.
I’ll be honest with you: I’m still terrified of going to Germany; I’m just more terrified of letting fear stop me from going.