Trigger warning: this piece discusses themes of anxiety, medical procedures and trauma.
We all have fears and things that, if possible, we’d really rather not do. Unfortunately, however, sometimes we have no choice. If you’re someone who struggles with mental health issues, sometimes our fears can have more of an impact.
A few weeks ago, I had to have some blood tests done. For me, this is trauma on top of a phobia, so it’s safe to say there was a lot of anxiety about it! However, as I hadn’t been feeling great, it was something that I really had to do. It was a decision I made the morning of. I didn’t want to draw out the anxiety, so when it was suggested I go in that day, I reluctantly said yes.
The moments before leaving, the car ride, the waiting and then going into the little room filled me with anxiety. I was incredibly aware of everything that was happening around me in those moments, and I experienced every symptom I have come to know as anxiety, whom I share a love-hate relationship with - anxiety loves to hang around with me, whereas I really don’t enjoy anxiety’s company.
As the phlebotomists got everything prepared, everything inside me was screaming for me to leave, to escape, to get out of there as fast as possible. But I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to get it over and done with and not have it hang over my head for days, weeks, or months.
In the minutes that felt like hours, I tried to keep myself calm. I was fighting against my anxiety, against my trauma, against the panic I felt in every fibre of my being, the sting of the needle and everything else in those short minutes. So many thoughts raced through my mind. However, the main thought I had afterwards was, “I did it.”
I had made it through something that has, for as long as I can remember, given me incredibly high anxiety levels. I did it. It took a bit of time to come out of that pure anxious state, but I did it.
It then got me thinking about fear, specifically, facing your fears. If you’re someone who struggles with any form of anxiety or anxiety disorder, even thinking of facing your fears probably sounds almost as scary as actually doing it. But trust me when I tell you that facing your fears and overcoming them is so rewarding. It’s important to realise, however, that facing and overcoming fear doesn’t mean you get rid of it, it just means that it can’t stop you from doing what you need to do. It can’t control you.
“But Claudia,” I hear you say, “facing our fears is scary, how do we do that?” And I would say, I don’t know. I’m still facing my fears, and I’m still learning how to best handle situations that fill me with anxiety. This is totally normal, it’s impossible to live a life free of fear or anxiety, but it isn’t impossible to get past it. It isn’t impossible to break free of the control that fear has over you. It isn’t impossible.
If you have something that’s causing anxiety for you, know you’re not alone. If there’s something that you have to do, but it’s bringing up past traumas for you, know you’re not alone. I can’t offer you advice on how to make the fear disappear, but I can tell you that facing it, little by little, lessens its impact. By facing it, you’re saying that you’re scared, but you’re not going to let it stop you from doing what you need or want to do in life.
Voices of Hope wants you to know that you do not have to do this alone. Click here to ‘find help’ - it’s not weak to speak!