Monday, October 17, 2011

Fear Itself

"Fear never wrote a symphony or poem, negotiated a peace treaty, or cured a disease.  Fear never pulled a family out of poverty or a country out of bigotry.  Fear never saved a marriage or a business. Courage did that.  Faith did that.  People who refused to consult or cower to their timidities did that.  But fear itself?  Fear herds us into a prison and slams the door." 

I read  this quote a couple of years ago in a book by Max Lucado called Fearless.  It took me 6 months to read Fearless because everytime I read a portion of it I, ironically, experienced major anxiety.  I would read a bit and then have to put the book down and convince myself not to burn it!  I would go days and weeks before picking it up again. 

Fearless is about letting go; having faith. The act of letting go, or the lack of the appearance of control is what causes me to experience anxiety, so the very essence of the book makes me nervous.  There were times, when reading the book, that I thought maybe Max Lucado had been stalking me because his examples and scenarios were right on point and lined up with my life.

I am admittedly a fear-based individual. Not fear-based in that I hide out or am afaid of the dark.  In fact, most of my friends and family would prefer that I check in with them more often, spend less time alone at night, or cease taking random trips without letting them know. Some of my earliest memories are of fearful situations.  Some of my earliest coping skills were derived from handling situations no one should ever have to handle, especially at a young age.  I struggle, yes struggle, with anxiety, both situational and chemical and tend to think in a worst-case-scenario mindset.  Fear.

It's tough for someone who doesn't experience random panic to understand all that's involved; the energy it takes to get through every day and experiencing heart palpitations in your twenties. That lack of understanding is why I often joke about anxiety or am anxious about sharing about it in a real way.  I don't like having to justify it, hide it, show it or listen to everybody's opinions about how to "fix" it and I definitely do not want to be labeled by it.  If I can make it funny then there's some relief.

Everybody has something that they have to deal with.  One of my "things" is anxiety and panic attacks.  I realized  recently there are people in my life who deal with this same issue. Reading through the last couple years of my blog posts, I discovered multiple, vague references to anxiety, OCD and panic.  While this coping mechanism of deflecting how serious it is might work for me, I think it may be an injustice to anyone out there who may be dealing with the same types of issues but who may not find any humor in it.  Someone who struggles with it may just need to know that someone else is struggling or coping, too. We have different coping mechanisms and varying triggers but I hope we can relate to one another.  The hope is also that those who don't struggle with or relate to this topic in any way will at least gain a topical understanding and have compassion.

Mind of Me is obviously a blog about what's on my mind and what makes me, me.  I try to be real; I try to take individual experiences, good and bad, happy and sad, funny or devastating, and transform those experiences to appeal to the masses; to help us relate to one another.  In order to be true to that, I have to acknowledge that I also have to be real about anxiety, the triggers, my past.  It can't always be funny or topical.  Sometimes, it just is. . .what it is.  That becomes all too apparent when you freak out in the check out line at Whole Foods, for no reason. 

While difficult to deal with, anxiety also makes me stronger.  My defiance towards it makes me adventurous.  Anxiety is the reason I purposely put myself in scary or uncomfortable situations and the reason I take on new things; to prove to myself that I can.  I refuse to be completely owned by it.  I refuse to live in that prison Max Lucado referenced in his book. 

Every part of me wants to give a thousand disclaimers about how much I've grown, what I can handle, that I'm not crazy, but you know what?  I won't.  Disclaimers are ultimately fear-based, preventative measures to possible negative reactions from others.  If nothing else, this post is just to get it off my chest and to hopefully inspire someone else to feel okay with themselves despite the struggle.


  1. Thank you for sharing. I deal with this on a teensy level. In fact, my anxiety about my run had a lot to do with driving to get there and with the big crowd of people that I would be caught in the middle of and very little to do with the act of running. Keep going strong, but I have to agree that you need to check in with your loved ones :)

  2. This is interesting. The internal struggles people go through without often showing outward signs of the inward state. I've never struggled with anxiety, but I can relate to an inner struggle, although mine was shorter in duration. For 2 and a half months after my oldest child was born I struggled with severe post-partum depression and self-harm ideation. But kept it to myself until it was over. Obviously your level of self-knowledge and related choices have made you stronger, Jess. Way to go!