How I almost let fear destroy my life

*This is my first post addressing mental health on thefitsavvycoach. The goal is to share my journey with you guys to promote healing and encourage conversation*

The other day I watched Harriet, a biography of the life of Harriet Tubman, abolitionist and political activist. This movie is actually one of my favorite historical fiction films for many reasons. Most people are tired of ‘slave movies’, but I don’t consider this the typical slave movie. I’m not ashamed of this movie. I’m proud of it.  For me, this movie is about courage and I wish I had a scant of what Harriet Tubman had.

There is a scene in particular that stuck out to me. When Mindy (before she was Harriet) runs to the church to escape the plantation. The preacher gives her advice she least expects. He gives her direction and he also gives her a dose of courage:

“Fear is your biggest enemy,”  he says.

I found it strange that he didn’t say timber wolves or white people were her biggest enemy, he said fear. Could fear really be someone’s biggest enemy I wondered?

Later in the movie, there were more scenes confronting the theme of fear. I couldn’t imagine being an enslaved person escaping the South without money or food in those days. BUT it was done! After the last scene of the film with Harriet and the Union army freeing more slaves, I realized something about my own fear. Fear will destroy you if you let it. 

A lot of people when they meet me or interact with me think I’m standoffish or distant, but the truth is I’m someone carefully planning what to say so I don’t run away.

I think many of us have regrets, my biggest regret is that I didn’t confront fear early in my life. It could have saved me from much heartache and pain.

When I think of myself, I don’t consider myself a courageous person. In fact, I’m scared of many things. Bugs creep me out. Roller Coasters are freaky. Shoot..as a young adult I had insomnia; I was terrified of monsters and Freddy Krueger. You are probably thinking why in the world is a grown-ass woman afraid of the dark. Stick around y’all, I am beginning to tell you….

How anxiety destroyed my confidence

In college, my sophomore year, my fear got so bad, I started forgetting things. I started doing exercise rituals (I was an athlete and I got carried away with working out). My anxiety interfered with my ability to play basketball. I don’t know what was going on, I couldn’t play. Let me pause right here to say, struggling with mental health issues as an athlete is difficult.. Back then it was hard to manage.

My fear got so out of hand, I ended up in the hospital (due to an accident) from there I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and OCD. I was twenty years old.

That changed my life and the next 4 years were the most excruciating years ever. I did much of everything alone with a few people as support. Of course, my family didn’t believe the diagnosis, but I knew in the back of my mind I did have an anxiety disorder. And my anxiety kept me back from pursuing a lot of things as a kid; I was painfully shy or obnoxiously outgoing.

Growing up I didn’t master traditional activities like other kids. I didn’t learn how to ride a bike well until I was 21. Swimming started when I was 26. It took me 28 years to pick up roller skates and at 23, I trashed another blog before I put up this one, because I was petrified of two things, rejection and praise.

Confronting Fear with a plan

I may look tough but on the inside, I’m rattled with high levels of anxiety and anger. Anxiety came first, but anger became later because I resented the fact I couldn’t get out of my own head. My emotions…I feel so deeply that I find it hard to express them. I’m an awkward person because I’m constantly thinking about the worst. A lot of people when they meet me or interact with me think I’m standoffish or distant, but the truth is I’m someone carefully planning what to say so I don’t run away.

My life is full of highs and lows. Balance always seemed to escape me. I shied away from many things regardless if I had the talent or acceptance or not. . My creepy crawler fears turned into something more serious.

Ultimately, my beliefs conflicted with who I was. I thought before my diagnosis I was a crummy ugly person, and indeed did I turn into one. Now that I’m in therapy (I have been in therapy for 1 year now). I’m challenging my limiting beliefs and my old self. Some days  I feel like I’m Wonder Woman, other days I don’t feel so wonderful at all.

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