Ever since I could remember, it always seemed that I had fear looming over my shoulder. When I was young, it personified itself in what some would call “childish” fears. Fear of the dark, fear of losing my mom in the supermarket, and fear of being home alone, fears that many people could say they felt at one point when they were younger. Eventually, the fear seems less bad and goes away. As I started getting older, I realized that the fear really didn’t go away, but transformed and evolved into something more serious.
I spent most of my childhood around my parents. I was a nervous wreck when my dad or mom would leave me for even a second. I mean I would really stress out. I can remember the feeling of complete hopelessness when I couldn’t find them. Now that I can analyze those feelings a bit better, I can see that there not as normal as I painted them to be. It turned into an irrational fear of losing people around me, as well as of just being alone, period.
Growing up, I constantly felt that there was something holding me back. I felt very nervous, anxious, and worried. My family would make fun of me because they thought I was just being dramatic when I wanted to control everything. I planned everything ahead of time. Now when I look back, that obsession with controlling things came from the fear that something could go wrong.
There goes the word again: fear. It could really appear in so many ways. The first time I felt that I had an anxiety attack I was in high school. I was in school and I started having a lot of chest pain. I couldn’t breathe and was completely out of it for a few minutes. It really does feel like the entire world is falling apart. It seems like a surreal feeling. I have had a handful of anxiety attacks in my life as I have learned to handle the triggers that cause me to go into full anxious mode. It was more of an internal battle and understanding that I needed to take control of this. I can’t live life worried every second over things that I cannot control.
So I have a mantra when I feel like I am getting anxious and fear is hovering over me:
- Write down the problem.
- Read it out loud.
- Say out loud how this problem is making me feel. This helps me make note of my feelings. I have tried to suppress my feelings before, and it never works. This usually helps me to understand more about the problem and starts calming my nerves.
- What can I do right now to calm myself? I pray, sing, and dance. I sing horribly but this helps me clear my mind so that I am not just focused on the problem at hand but I pretend I am a great singer on stage. Its really quite freeing. LOL
- What can I do right now about this problem in specific? This could really just be, nothing. There is freedom in knowing that somethings don’t always have to be controlled. Sometimes, waiting is all we could do. This could be calling someone, or this could be physically doing something. I have realized that sometimes we blow problems out of proportion. We let the anxiety take control of our minds to the point we believe the problem is bigger than us. That we have no control or power over it. But when I start dissecting my feelings as well as looking at the problem with a clear focus, I start to see that I have the authority to calm the waters around me. Sometimes you think you are sinking, but you just need to step out of the boat and walk on water.
Of course, panic attacks can just happen and you don’t even have a chance to go through each of these steps. I can’t say I always follow this. But I try to remind myself to do one of these.
The thing about fear is that it comes in many different ways. Sometimes it just creeps up on you, sometimes it feels like it is looming over you constantly. But every time fear is present, it says the same thing: you are not in control, this problem is bigger than you, there is nothing you can do about this, you cannot control your emotions.
But the truth is, you can. You just have to give it a try, and tell your fear that it doesn’t have a hold on you. I work everyday to fight my fear. I don’t always win, but I always learn a better way to handle it when it starts to creep up again.