Dear Diary, Mental Illness
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Dear Diary: Set Yourself Free From Fear

set you freeFear is a nasty emotion. It’s something that makes us irrational, timid and feel less than we are. It’s a emotion that can turn calmness into madness, and madness into sorrow. People act differently when dictated by fear, and that fear can manifest itself in other ways, such as anxiety, depression and phobias.

So many of us struggle with fear running our lives. The what if’s, the could be’s, the ultimate “but” statements. It sends us into this constant struggle of wanting to face our fears but being too scared of what facing those fears could mean.

This actually reminds me of when I traveled by plane recently for the first time in about 8 years.

My entire life was run by my fears, and plane travel was one of them. For our honeymoon, I boldly declared that if we had to fly there, we couldn’t go there because I wasn’t stepping foot on a plane. The fear was very bad, to the point of when my husband mentioned flying I would start to worry. I couldn’t even drive up to an airport without anxiety, and if you told me I had to fly? You probably would have thought you’d just given me a life ending ultimatum by all the tears I would cry over it.

But in August I had a realization: I couldn’t keep letting my fears drive my actions. My husband had the opportunity of a lifetime that required both of us to travel across the country, by plane, and I didn’t want him to miss this opportunity because his wife was too afraid to fly. We booked the flight, packed our bags and the morning of the flight arrived far too quickly.

After arriving at the airport, I did what any rational person would do in that moment and panicked. I barely looked security in the eyes as I passed by, my hands shook, I was all over the place – simply put, I was shutting down.

I had my husband stand behind me, essentially pushing me onto the plane while I cried like a baby, hugging my pillow pet and wishing I could be any place but there in that moment. A child laughed at me while I cried in the seat behind them, and as we took off I literally felt like that was the end. I was going to die, never see my family again, and leave my relatives with an eternal sense of sorrow because of my passing.

Strangely enough though, after about 30 minutes of being on full, hardcore panic mode something incredible happened. I stopped panicking. I could open the window and look outside, I could sit, semi-anxiety free, in the seat and actually focus on something other than the catastrophic thoughts in my mind.

It was almost like I had exhausted the anxiety I was capable of producing in a given scenario. I coasted through the final 3 flights and had never been happier than I was when we touched back down in our hometown 4 days later.

So why did I tell you all of this? Why in the world does this matter?

Well, because for most of my life I feared flying. I didn’t want anything to do with it. I missed out on opportunities because I didn’t want to fly, passed on trips and weddings. I took the stereotypical route for our honeymoon (to Disney World) because I couldn’t imagine flying somewhere like California or Nevada.

So I finally just made the decision that I didn’t want to be bound by my fears anymore. I could no longer justify “not liking to fly” as a valid reason to not explore the world. I had to find a way to rid myself of this insane panic I had around flying, so I faced that fear.

That’s where this week’s post is originating from. I learned through personal trial a very important lesson that I think we should all hear at least once:

Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free.

We get so caught up in what we can’t do, what we shouldn’t do, or what we believe we’re unable of accomplishing, that sometimes we completely block out the notion that we can actually overcome the fear.

We want to be set free from our fear, our anxieties, our doubts, but we don’t want to reach for it because of the fear of what it would make us feel while facing it. Most fears can be defeated if we just have the courage to take that step. Now, while I’m still not exactly thrilled about getting on a plane for 6 hours, I know that I can handle it. I can manage the anxiety, I can cope with the fear, and I can make it out the other side.

It was through that experience that I remembered that fear is simply an emotion. It is not a physical barrier, or a person that stands in our way. Sure, it can tear us down, wear us out and make us feel like we’re less than who we can be, but you know what else?

Fear can make us brave. It can make us strong, knowledgeable and passionate. Fear can give us new life, spark a yearning to want more than we have, and to do more with what we’re given.

Fear can paralyze us, but it can also empower us. Only you have control over how it manifests itself.

Set yourself free from fear by choosing to be bigger than what your mind is telling you. I believe in you, and I know that as scary as it may seem to conquer that fear, it is such a wonderful feeling to feel free from the one thing that held you back for so many years.

Until next time, Internet.

If you would like to email me, you can send any questions, concerns, comments or suggestions to contact@hashtagfearless.com. I will do my best to respond to you within 48 hours, but if for some reason I cannot get back to you in that time frame, I promise I will always respond as soon as possible. You can also find me on  FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram

Lastly, I run an Emetophobia Support Group on Facebook. Emetophobia is the intense and irrational fear of throwing up, and it is one struggle I am passionately engaged in. The group is a closed, by request only group to help facilitate sharing and support by all members. It is also private, meaning that the posts you and others make will not show up publicly in your newsfeed.

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