“The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”
This is a famous Roosevelt quote, but it is also the underlining root of panic disorders. The fear of another panic attack is so intense that we become afraid of the fear. However, this fear of fear only makes us more afraid! I know it sounds like a Dr. Seuss book, but anyone struggling with anxiety disorders will tell you this is absolutely true!
People like me and like you do not like to feel afraid. There are the select few who call themselves ‘adrenaline junkies’ or people who love haunted houses and horror movies. These un-human species love feeling afraid and challenged, we’re not friends with these people, these people are crazzzeeee! Kidding!
So putting the beloved, non-judged, skydivers, and Chucky doll collectors aside – I can safely assume that the rest of us ‘normal’ people like to avoid feeling afraid.
The exhausting part about struggling with anxiety, is this list of fears to avoid are high and frequent! I was afraid of medication, new foods, driving, social situations, conflict and so much more.
Then I realized one day, as I hopped on a plane with my girlfriends, after struggling with Agoraphobia and had only made one successful trip out to Shoppers Drug Mart, that I was indeed brave!
People who face chronic anxiety are actually some of the bravest people I know.People who face chronic anxiety are actually some of the bravest people I know. Click To Tweet
I know that sounds odd, but imagine your greatest fear, heights, bears, lentils, or let’s use a jumping venomous dragon spider the size of your hand for dramatic illustration. Imagine having to face this spider every waking moment. You need to touch it and move it to get into the shower, you have to catch it and put it in a box for every meal, or you have to have it hang above your head as you drive.
It’s not every day that you encounter your greatest fears, and when you do we usually run away. However, for someone battling anxiety, this is their reality all the time. So in order for them to eat, sleep, care for their children, maintain employment, and nurture their marriages, they have to face these intense fears every day. This is bravery!
I said in my last blog post that being brave isn’t about not having fear, it’s about feeling the fear and doing the right thing anyway, the brave thing.
So to those of you right now who are crippled with fear, yet choose to face it everyday and keep going, you are indeed the bravest person I know, and that fight is going to get you through this I promise!
The secret to overcoming anxiety and panic came down to one thing for me, not fearing the fear. Facing the fear and not being intimidated by it anymore, accepting it, and learning to have authority over it, is what set me free.
When I focused on trying to not feel afraid, I stayed afraid, because I spent so much energy trying to fight it off. When I accepted that fear was a God given natural response, I wrote about in Understanding Fear, and when I learnt to allow it to visit and not resist it, I learnt not to fear it anymore and I got my power back over it.
Soon, fear learns that you’re not going to fight it, so it doesn’t pick fights as often, because it has learnt that no matter what it does, you’re not going to negotiate with it. Fear also learns boundaries, that it has all the right to pop in and give you it’s opinion on a situation, however when you say no, it leaves.
Since my battle with anxiety, I still have moments where fear creeps in. I still have moments where I am tempted to panic, because life just throws you some pretty stupid and just down right mean curve balls. I’ve had more than enough this year. In fact what lead me to my first nervous breakdown several years ago was mild compared to the stress and trauma I have gone through this year. I was honestly worried at first thinking to myself “this is a lot of stress for me, and I hope it doesn’t trigger another mental lapse.”
Then that worry turned into pure joy, when I realized I was fine! WOW God you have done a complete work in me!
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned;struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4
When I learnt how to accept and face my fears and not try to run or fight back, when I learnt to lay hold of the truth of God’s love for me I was set free, and I can’t ‘un-learn’ what I know.
A few months ago, for the first time in 2 years a panic attack started to creep in. My heart was racing, my throat felt like I was being chocked, and I felt faint and fearful. My initial thought was “oh, no!” THEN, I went “OH, panic, it’s just you. Go ahead, do your thing.” and as soon as I acknowledged it, accepted it and just let it be, it left and hasn’t come back since.
I’M NOT LONGER A SLAVE TO FEAR – I AM A CHILD OF GOD