Mind & Spirit

Conquering fear

By: Canadian Living

Author: Canadian Living

Mind & Spirit

Conquering fear

By: Canadian Living

Nearly half of all Canadians are afraid of heights and 38 per cent are afraid of germs, according to a survey by the National Geographic Channel.

In the March 2006 issue of Canadian Living magazine, we asked our readers to share their greatest fears and their methods of overcoming them. Read on for a pair of reader responses and then share your fear and coping mechanism with us by using our Feedback tool, located at the top and bottom right of this page. Then read other reader responses in the feedback section at the bottom of the page.

For still more help, learn how to overcome your fears in 5 simple steps by clicking here.

Reader responses

Claudette Barnes wrote:
I am 31 years old and allergic to pain! Prior to donating blood, I had visions of giant needles slowly piercing my skin! Luckily, greater than my fear of needles is my fear of living life without a purpose.

This desire to overcome my fear became stronger as I learned more about the importance of giving. I resolved to give blood because a close friend is a cancer patient and Canada needs 80,000 new donors, up to three lives can be saved with one donation and it only takes one hour! Moreover, a co-worker donated blood just one time and helped save the life of another co-worker who had the same blood type!

Inside the clinic, Judy Burton (manager of donor services at Canadian Blood Services) took my hand, talked to me gently and before I knew it, the needle was out and my donation was complete!

A comfortable bed, delightful conversation and snacks -- Canadian Blood Services should change their name to CBSS: Canadian Blood SPA Services!

Claudette Barnes
Radio Personality
St. John's, Newfoundland

From Carol Lynn:
I think my greatest fear is being too intense sometimes and having people I come in contact with misunderstand me. I find it hard to communicate on these occasions. During these times I try to remember what my intentions are and let go of the worry cycle.

Having two lovely grown daughters with families and a husband who tries to understand me, helps me deal with this. They love me unconditionally. I would love to have the confidence to not always worry about what I say.

Carol Lynn

Read on for more reader responses.

Luana wrote:
My greatest fear is another panic attack.

For five years I have dealt with panic attacks. They began for no reason -- a fear of fire and a fear of traffic and car accidents. Mind you, I have never been in a situation with either!

When I was 19, I got my driver's license learner's permit. I saved up, bought my first car and learned to drive. Soon after, and before I ever made it to testing for my license, I began to become so afraid of other drivers' actions that I avoided driving. I stopped because I was afraid that my reactions to other vehicles would be unsafe on the road and it was probably a very good decision.

After I moved in with my now-husband, we had a small second-story apartment. A few months after moving in, I realized that if there was ever a fire, there weren't many ways out. My nightly dinner cooking went from enjoyable, to microwave only, to non-existent, just in case I started a fire. I would lay in bed at night, thinking of my escape route and how I could get the cats out of the window safely, so they still couldn't get into the street and then be hit by a car in my efforts to save them.

About a month ago, I was home alone with my young daughter. We were playing in the rec room. Suddenly, I was convinced that the house was on fire. I looked around, and swore I smelled and saw smoke.

I ripped out all of the electronics' plugs and scrambled on rubber knees up the stairwell with my daughter, striving to remain clam. My heart was pounding, my legs weren't working and I could hardly breathe. I took my daughter to the neighbour and asked her to watch her a moment. At this point, I knew it was a panic attack, not fire, but I was convinced I was going to die, or at least pass out, from the pounding in my chest and the absolute terror I felt. I was afraid for my daughter to be alone if I were to lose consciousness.

That was judgment day for me; my job as a mother is to protect my child, and to give her a safe home. How could she feel safe if I didn't?

I made an appointment with our family doctor and felt strangely shy and embarrassed while trying to explain what was happening to me. I was waiting to hear, "It's all in your head; you're stressed out, just relax." But instead, I heard "You are very strong to have tried to manage severe panic like this for so long. You have severe panic disorder and you are perfectly normal and we can help."

I was elated. Normal? Strong? Those are the last words I expected to hear, and they made me feel so very hopeful. I didn't need to be ashamed!

I am now taking Paxil, just once a day, and will be seeing a psychologist in the new year. I already feel much better and each time I'm in the car on a busy street, I'm waiting for the panic to strike, but it hasn't. I still do not drive, but I am hoping that when I am sure that I am doing well enough, that I will go for my license.

I am so glad that I finally asked for help, and I realize how I could have helped myself long ago, if I had not allowed shame to get in my way. I am doing better every day, and I
have a normal life now. I can do normal things with my family that I was too afraid of before!

Luana McDonald
Peterborough, Ont

Read on for more reader responses.

Pam wrote:
I can't remember any particular incident that set off this fear but for as long as I can remember, I've been terrified of the dentist. It's especially difficult because my dentist is a really nice lady!

I need to take Ativan in order to go in just for a cleaning -- and the more work that needs to be done, the more drugs I'm begging for.

Ativan helps me to relax (although I usually cry during the drive over to the office) and I don't remember a thing afterward. In fact, I remember so little that when I stopped at the dentist's office one day to drop off some papers, a lady came around the corner and said hi to me and I couldn't place her. She started to laugh and said "I'm your dentist!"

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's terrified but I still hate going!


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Mind & Spirit

Conquering fear