Fears Grow As Lockdown Eases
As restrictions start to lift following the pandemic, I am now picking up fear in many conversations – un-articulated but there in the subtext.
It’s understandable, of course.
We have faced a virus that no one can see, is potentially lethal, and we don’t know who might be carrying it.
And we’re not out of the woods yet, as the virus has proven it can mutate into other variants. But…
We must not let fear dictate our futures
What PTSD Taught Me About Facing Fear
This is serious!
I speak from personal experience…
Since the train crash in 1999, I have lived with PTSD. For the first ten years, fear dominated me. Only once I got it under control did I realise the detrimental effect it had on my life.
I have now faced my fears numerous times, and I’ve learnt to take steps to tackle them straight away, fully recognising the negative power they have the potential to unleash.
How fear limited me
Initially, fear for me was most evident when I tried to catch a train after recovering from the crash.
For ten full years, I managed to avoid train travel entirely, relying on car journeys instead.
In some instances, I would decline from doing something because there was no easy way to get there without catching a train.
But this avoidance led to other problems, including physical and mental weariness with concentrating on the road. And, of course, travelling by car has its own dangers, the thought of which caused me increased stress and, you guessed it, fear.
Or it simply meant I missed out on doing things I would have loved to do and meeting people I wanted to see.
Eventually, I had had enough. It dawned on me that rather than saving me from a possible death-inducing train crash again, my fears were stopping me from doing what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it.
This time of self-induced curtailment needed to end!
It wasn’t easy, but I faced my fear head-on, determined to defeat it.
I took baby steps to start with – going to a railway station, standing on a platform, watching trains come and go. I would arm myself with distraction aides, like listening to happy music on my headphones, using breathing techniques, taking a friend with me.
The first few times, I turned and ran away. But I kept making myself go back, pushing just a little bit further until eventually I got on a train and completed a short journey.
From that day forward, I kept using the train and took journeys of increasing length.
Two key steps
Nowadays I have no hesitation in taking a train if it is the best way to travel. I don’t think I’ll ever enjoy train travel again (that’s probably expecting too much) – my senses are always on high alert when I’m on a train. And, sometimes, my PTSD does trigger reactions.
However, I refuse to allow fear to win or stop me, and I remind myself that ‘this too will pass.’
This has also taught me a valuable lesson that has come in handy ever since. If anything happens that causes me anxiety or serious concern, and I feel fear rising, I:
- acknowledge the fear (important), and
- prepare to face whatever it is directly (come what may). I alter my actions towards the issue and work out what I can mentally arm myself with to face it, determined to get where I want to be.
Face the fear – don't let it stop you
I hope those of you who are feeling fearful at this time might draw comfort from my sharing. Please know that fear is something that can be, at least, squashed, so it doesn’t stop you from doing what you want to do.
The cousin to fear that I can see coming right around the corner at us is agoraphobia, but more on that next time…
What do you think?
If you have any thoughts on this unprecedented situation we’re all facing, I’d love to hear them. Drop them in the comments section below and let’s get the conversation started!
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