Remembering I can conquer fear

She used to drown in panic when faced with the everyday. Read how she got her head above water, and realised she has what it takes to conquer fear.

Two boys in a swimming competition
That first glass felt like a swimming pool full of marbles.
I had become afraid of speaking in social situations, afraid to eat in, afraid to sleep, afraid to leave the house, afraid to be in crowds. For every situation there was a "I can't, what if". Soon my fears became a trap and I felt damned if I did, damned if I didn't. I reached a stage where I was terrified of even eating in front of other people.

"This has to stop", I told myself one day, "you can't go on like this; everyday your world gets smaller".

I figured it had to be like learning to swim, just throw yourself into a lake and if you don't kick and keep your head above water - you drown.

And so began my mission to conquer fear.

My first big challenge was teaching myself to eat in public. I started gently, gradually building up the challenge and pushing my own comfort zone.

It started with having a glass of water in front of friends in my own house. That first glass felt like a swimming pool full of marbles. It was nothing short of torture trying to drink with people around me.

Once I'd mastered that I moved on to having water at someone else's house. Then in a cafe full of strangers! I then stepped up to coffee, after that I added a biscuit and so on. Each time I'd achieved something I told myself "Well, that's one less thing to be scared of."

I was doing so well; I was getting this glorious sense of achievement that had me buzzing with excitement.

And then two people I vaguely recognized walked passed and spotted us. My friend waved and they came and joined our table. Suddenly my very small and manageable sandwich felt like it had grown to the size of a family caravan, my knife and fork felt like telegraph poles and I was convinced I would choke.

I took a deep breath, speared a mouthful of caravan with my telegraph pole and said to myself "Kick, don't drown".

I swallowed.

And didn't choke.

I could have climbed onto the table and burst into a rendition of "˜I will survive"! I decided how ever that I should at least finish my sandwich first. In my mind, I had passed the ultimate test and that meant there was no challenge I couldn't attempt.

Now when there is an obstacle in my path I remember that feeling of being terrified, and the feeling of having conquered my fear. I never want to go back to that feeling of being trapped, so no matter what lands in my way I kick, keep my head above water -and swim
Last reviewed: 16 February, 2014
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